By Ohia Israel
- FOR TALKING AT RANDOM AND Calling for Postponement OF 2015 General Elections
On Thursday 22nd January the National Security Adviser, NSA Col. Sambo Dasuki added a twist to the General Election when called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to postpone the elections.
Speaking at a forum in London at Chatham House, said the call was to enable Nigeria’s electoral body room for proper preparations and distribution of Permanent Voter Cards, PVC.
According to Dasuki, he said, it will be advantageous if INEC postpones the election, adding “That is what we are encouraging at the moment.”
He also added that the system of PVC is the first in Nigeria where voters use a biometric card so as not to rig election. He said INEC had distributed 30 million cards and still needs to distribute more.
The NSA said though INEC has assured of success in the forthcoming election despite time constraint, he told the Chairman of INEC that it costs them nothing to change the date when there is still about 30 million people yet to collect their PVCs.
However, since the call by Sambo Dasuki, Nigerians from different spheres of life has condemned the call, one of those giving their voice is the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has expressed concern over the call for the postponement of the February 2015 Nigeria general elections by Sambo Dasuki, Presidential Adviser on National Security.
In response to a call Dasuki Sambo’s call, the Situation Room described the suggestion as an unnecessary interference in the independence of INEC as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution, stating that dates for the elections can only be set by INEC.
The Situation Room called on the political parties and civic groups including religious organizations, labour unions, to mobilize citizens to pick up their PVCs in the centres designated by INEC.
Situation Room called on INEC to put in place every measure to ensure unhindered and speedy distribution of any outstanding and uncollected PVCs.
“We continue to urge INEC to update the public on PVC distribution in States that have been most impacted by delays,” the group said in a statement signed by Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre.
Situation Room called on Nigerians to go out en-masse to collect their PVCs, and prepare to cast their votes for candidates of their choice in the upcoming general elections.
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organizations working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, Partners for Electoral Reform and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA). Others are Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than 60.
Also the All Progressives Congress (APC) has rejected the call by the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, for the postponement of next month’s general elections ostensibly to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) more time to distribute all Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), warning that under no circumstance must the elections be scuttled.
In a statement issued in Abuja lastweek by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the call by Col.\ Dasuki, during an event at the Chatham House in London yesterday, has exposed the hitherto clandestine plot by the Jonathan administration to push for the postponement of the polls, using all sorts of cheap tricks.
“Now that we have found the smoking gun, we are urging the international community, in particular, to urgently extract a commitment from President Goodluck Jonathan that the elections will hold as scheduled next month, and that he would respect the outcome, just as we have said,” it said.
APC said Col. Dasuki was only seeking to buy time for Jonathan campaign to gather steam by hinging his postponement call on the delay in PVC distribution, adding: “They know for sure that if they don’t postpone the elections, there is no way they can win. They are just terrified.”
The party also called on Nigerians to reject in its entirety the ongoing orchestrated plot by the Jonathan administration to postpone the elections, saying the constitutional crisis that would be triggered by such postponement was capable of undermining the nation’s democracy.
“After realising that it will be rejected by Nigerians who have borne the brunt of its mis-governance over the years, after realising that its campaign of calumny against our presidential candidate has failed, the Jonathan administration has now started to play its last card, which is the postponement of the election,’’ it said.
APC said the importance of elections cannot be over-emphasised, adding: “Election is the lifeblood of democracy, the mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates. It is the only way for the citizenry to renew and refresh the governing process so they can get the most benefits out of democracy. Therefore, anyone that tries to sabotage this mechanism is aiming a dagger straight to the heart of democracy.”
Also, the former Vice President and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar has said that the general elections in the country should hold as scheduled next month, and that government must not tinker with the option of postponing the timelines for the elections.
“Yes, we have a problem with the distribution of PVCs but the position of my party, the APC is that since we have a voters’ register then that should be used in conducting the elections. I also believe there is enough time between now and the elections to issue everyone with their PVCs,”
The APC Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) is opposed to the plot by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to postpone next month’s general elections as is currently being canvassed by the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retired).
In a statement signed last Thursday in Abuja by its Director of Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the APC Campaign said such a proposal as being contemplated is ill-advised.
“We smelt the plot that this unpopular PDP Federal Government would do anything to stay put in power, elongation of term had always been on the President’s agenda; no wonder he and his party want the election delayed or cancelled outright to effect and extension of their lacklustre administration,” Shehu said.
“Gone were the days when a few persons can hold the destiny of our dear nation to ransom. In fact, Nigerians would have called for an early election than February, if our political system is parliamentary. For Jonathan’s government is worse than a rotten egg. It’s smelly, full of sleaze, neck deep in corruption and uncaring. Two vital organs of government have downed tools for nearly two months – the health and judicial sectors and he does not give a damn!
“The nation’s currency (naira) is daily plummeting in value, the oil sector in virtual comatose, the economy runs on deficit, unemployment skyrocketing, insecurity on the loose, decaying infrastructure and a loss of sound national image. Nigerians have never had it so bad. Hence, any delay or postponement of the elections amounts to testing the patience of the people. We are all tired of a corrupt government, one full of ineptitude, incompetence and lack of ideas. Nobody can scuttle our hard-earned democracy in Nigeria,” he said.
The former Vice President, who landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport last Thursday after a medical vacation trip, said the call made by the National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki, for a postponement of the elections as scheduled next month, was uncalled for and portends a dangerous signal about the intentions of the Federal Government to conduct a free, fair and credible poll in February.
Atiku was quoted to have said in the statement signed by his media office that he is “strong, healthy and happy” to be back to lend his support to the train of change sweeping across the country.
“The duty of participating in the process of change which our great party, the APC is committed to supersedes every other consideration. For me, participating in this campaign is a call to national duty.
“It is a duty which we cannot afford to compromise upon and we must press into the consciousness of those at the helms of affairs that it is morally dubious and socially unacceptable to extend the dates of the elections by a single day from the scheduled timelines,” the former Vice President said.
Also lending his voice to the condemnation, the Chairman House Committee on Justice in the House of Representatives, Dr. Ali Ahmad opposed the call for postponement of election by the National Security Adviser (NSA), saying postponing the election would amount to rigging.
Ali who stated this in an interview with Journalists last Thursday said there was no excuse for the postponement.
“Any postponement of election from February 14 can only be achieved through a Supreme Court order or through a consensus arrangement agreed to by all stakeholders; INEC and all political parties. This is not an executive fiat, it is not an INEC thing, it is a Nigerian thing.
“So if there is a problem, bring it to the table because that date was agreed to by INEC and all the stakeholders. We know that. So if one party, PDP doesn’t feel like holding election and it is postponed, that is rigging; that is rigging.
“We have seen this thing one year ago that they don’t want 2015 election to hold, that is why the war in the north-east was orchestrated; that is why they haven’t done anything. Now the evidence is out, they can no longer hide.
“Now the NSA is unilaterally seeking for postponement, this cannot happen. Nigerians should rise. I can count 101 reasons why election should not hold.
“If it is PVC, INEC cannot force people to go and collect their PVC. It the temporary card is the issue, well let’s look at it, bring all the issues, let all the political parties sit down with INEC and let them find solutions, not PDP. One person cannot seek postponement of election and election should be postponed.
“Any postponement is rigging and nobody can determine what will happen thereafter. If it is war in the north east, nobody can tell us unless the President can tell me, ‘in the next 30 days, in the next 60 days, Boko Haram would be defeated.
“Postponing election for Boko Haram is a non-starter.
INEC is not complaining INEC has extended it till the end of January; it is making rapid progress which we have seen in the last one week. Even in Kwara, we have jumped from 40 per cent to about 70 per cent. In another week, it could be 90 per cent. 70 per cent is an A grade. So every person cannot vote, if you are there and you cannot collect your PVC or if your PVC is missing, there is margin of error.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, last Thursday, said it will not interfere with the operation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Coordinator, National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri, who stated this while answering questions from newsmen during a security briefing in Abuja, assured of adequate security of lives and properties before, during and after the election.
“I know that government will not interfere with the operation of INEC. Whatever decision that will be taken is solely the responsibility of INEC. It has happened in this country before, when INEC postponed the election in 2011 by a week. It was not the National Security Adviser (NSA) or President (Goodluck) Jonathan that is postponing it.
“INEC is under nobody’s instructions, because if the president is going to instruct anybody, he would not have travelled to Bayelsa in 2011 for accreditation and queue to vote before the announcement of cancellation was made. So, please, I will not confirm that and I am not going to talk about it,” he said.