The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) receives the news of the postponement of the nationwide elections of Saturday 16th February and March 2, 2019 with rude shock and describes it as a national embarrassment. It first came like fake news that was totally far from the truth thinking that the Independent Electoral Commission(INEC) got enough time to prepare for these elections, got the needed fund released to it early enough and had assured Nigerians that elections would go on as scheduled without any issue.
It is most embarrassing and shameful that a nation as big as Nigeria with many highly qualified professionals to organize elections will be postponing elections in the early morning of that election. It was never this bad for us before.
This unexplainable postponement is reprehensible, condemnable and unacceptable when smaller nations are doing better. With the 2015 election, the whole world is expecting a better electoral process but it seems the INEC is not ready to build on the 2015 foundation. What a pity!
Economically, this shocking postponement has led to the loss of billions of Naira in-terms of movement of election materials nationwide and the closure of our borders, seaports and airports. Many local and international observers have already come and would either be forced to go back and come again next week or stay for one week at extra cost. Electorates who travelled to their home towns to vote have to go back to their places of work now and come back in a week’s time. There is great question on the credibility of the elections now because of doubt on safe-keeping of these election materials where they were sent to. How are we sure the ballot papers, card readers and other materials will not get into wrong hands for election manipulation?
No excuse is strong and good enough to justify its postponement in the early morning of an election. This development has led us almost loosing confidence in INEC and its chairman. INEC has disappointed Nigerians and the international community. We hope we would not hear of another postponement again after this.
From all indications, INEC unilaterally postponed the elections without any input from other stakeholders such as the leading Presidential candidates, their parties, the National Council of States and others. We recalled that when it happened in 2015 for “security reasons”, the National Council of State was carried along.
How can you justify the ‘logistics issues’ excuse that came when all stakeholders were already in the fields. Although the Presidency has condemned the Commission but we recalled a controversial letter purportedly written by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to INEC asking the Commission to postpone the election with a view to accommodating Zamfara chapter of the ruling party. Is this postponement not a compliance with that request?
This kind of disappointment can cause voters apathy for so many reasons because it has raised serious question on the credibility and integrity of the Commission. In his address to the nation, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu even failed to tender unreserved apology to the nation for failing at the most crucial hour, taking the entire nation for granted! This is unacceptable, to say the least.
We urge all Nigerians to remain prayerful and focused. We believe with the prayers we had already offered, all would work out well for our nation in the name of Jesus. We urge you to remain calm and maintain peace where you are. Do not be discouraged but be determined to decide who presides over the affairs of this nation.
Barr Samuel Kwankur
Director of Legal and Public Affairs
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
16 February, 2019