Presidential, National Assembly Elections To Now Hold March 28
Governorship Polls Hold April 11
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has officially announced a shift in the election timetable, with the Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as Governorship and State Assembly elections now to holding on March 28 and April 11 respectively.
Addressing a news conference around 11.00pm Saturday, National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega said after an extensive consultations with stakeholders, the were postponed because in view of the security situation in the northeast states.
According to Jega, security agencies a letter to the commission said they could not guarantee the safety of INEC staff, election materials and the electorate and that since the electoral body could not compromise the safety of its staff, the election has to be shifted.
He explained that the security agencies said their personnel are already over-stretched on the account of the war on terror in the northeast, expressing hope that the situation would have significantly improve before the new dates of elections.
He said the National Security Adviser (NSA) and security chiefs have asked that they be giving six weeks to prosecute the war in the North East and that there was no way it could guarantee security while the military are fighting the insurgents.
Jega said it consulted widely before it decided to postpone the election date, adding that INEC postponed the election in line with Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act which said election could be shifted if there were genuine reasons to do so.
“We are concerned about our Ad-hoc staff which are mainly youth corps members and they are about 600,000 and we are concern about our electoral materials as their security cannot be guarantee by the security agencies.
“No matter our preparedness, if the security of our staff and electoral materials are not guaranteed, we cannot conduct the election. The shift in date falls within the constitutional framework of holding election 30 days before handover,” he said.
Jega added that left to INEC, it was prepared to conduct the election, but that for matters it could not control like security, there was need for a shift.
He said at the NSA wrote to his office to inform him that security could not be guaranteed on the day of the election because of the war in North East and that during the National Council meeting last week, the service chiefs also raised the same concern.
“At the last National Security meeting, I made a presentation in which I said for reasons under INEC control, we are ready for the election. As at now, we have distributed 45.82 million Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, and this is about 66.58 percent of the electorate. There are some other variables, not under our control, such as security, when they advise otherwise, we cannot deploy our staff to the field,” he said.