By Abdullateef Jos
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) is seriously perturbed by sudden postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday by the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) few hours to the poll.
A statement signed by Executive Director, CISLAC Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) on Saturday while expressing unreserved disappointment over the reported poor preparatory processes by the Electoral Body that disproportionately hampered adequate deployment of electoral materials to many parts of the country with resultant postponement condemn such abrupt decision informed by deliberate abuse of independent power.
It said that the action may discredit subsequent position by the Commission as an “Independent Body” before national and international observers.
The statement said it is not unaware of systemic conflict of interests and questionable procurement process imbibed by the various positions in the Commission creating tendency for mutual sabotage among the three (3) levels of appointees—National Commissioners, RECs and appointed relatives to the Directors in various Departments.
CISLAC said it is concerned by the wastages and losses the postponement would have caused the country, civil society and international community that have committed hopping financial and human resources to deployment and observation missions to ensure free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all.
“Given large presence of youth deployment for anchoring electoral processes and international electoral observation missions across the country, such abrupt postponement is a huge setback to our nation’s democracy which may breed electoral apathy and distrust at all levels.
With the new electoral dates, giving the space of a week extension, we are as well worried for the safety and integrity and security of elections materials which have been disseminated across the country.”
“We therefore call on the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency constitute an ad hoc Committee to investigate the sudden postponement to clear the Commission of public doubt that her decision was not informed by desperate desires of unjust individuals or groups who wants to assume or sustain power by all illegitimate means.”
The Civil Society Organisation demand adequate security for both materials and human resources deployed by the Commission so far to the field to avert susceptibility to violations and attacks by unpatriotic individuals or groups across the country.
It also called on the Commission to tender unreserved apologies to Nigerian and international observers, who have committed their time, presence and financial resources to monitor the electoral process with assurance that elections would hold as earlier scheduled. These apologies must also be rendered to Nigerian voters who have invested time and resources to sacrifice the day for them to discharge their civic responsibility.
“ We demand immediate assurances by the Commission that the new electoral date—February 23rd is certain, and the distributed sensitive materials will be kept under appropriate supervision and security till the new date.”
’’ We further encourage civil society groups, media, national and international observation missions to sustain surveillance on the electoral process to promote free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all.’’