Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he was disappointed by the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled for yesterday by one week by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, announced the postponement early Saturday morning.
The commission rescheduled the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, February 23, 2019 while the Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Council polls earlier fixed for March 2 would now be conducted on Saturday, March 9, 2019.
Buhari, who was in his hometown, Daura, katsina State when the postponement was announced, regretted that despite INEC’s assurances that it was ready and the fact that many Nigerians had traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, while international observers were already in the country, the commission postponed the elections using logistics as excuse. The President reaffirmed his commitment to the independence of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot. He, however, urged all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at what he described as “this trying national moment in our democratic journey.”
Buhari also charged INEC to ensure not only are the materials already distributed safe but that they do not get into wrong hands. He further charged the commission to do everything to avoid the lapses that resulted in the unfortunate postponement in the first place.
Buhari said: “I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.
“Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.
“INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.
“This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.
“We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates. “While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
“I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development. I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.”