By: Babatunde Alaran
US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, says the words spoken about the election are as important in the democratic process as the elections themselves.
In a video message to Nigerians, the US envoy said citizens must vote to have an effect on the country’s electoral process.
“The elections are a remarkable opportunity for all Nigerians to come together and for every citizen to express their will. What the United States hopes to see in your elections this year 2019 are elections that are free, fair, credible and, above all, transparent,” he said.
“In this process, I know one thing: it is absolutely important for the citizens of Nigeria to personally take part, beginning right now by knowing what your rights are.
“On election day, you won’t have an effect unless you vote. It’s important that you work together to make sure that your votes are counted.
“As we get ready for your elections, one of the most important things is that there is a level playing field, meaning that no officials, no security forces, no electoral officials, no politicians seek to influence you in a way that is not consistent with the Nigerian law.
“Elections are only one part of the democratic process. The words and the actions that happen in these final days and all the work of government afterwards, are as important to democracy as the elections themselves.”
On the same day Symington’s video was released, Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, made death threats to foreigners attempting to interfere in Nigeria’s elections.
Speaking during an NTA Live programme on Tuesday evening, el-Rufai said as an independent and sovereign state, Nigeria would never bow to foreign powers.
“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags,” he had said.
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has replied Nasir el-Rufai, stating that it would continue its mission to Nigeria, not minding the threat.
The US has remained silent over the matter.
Election shift: I’m deeply disappointed with INEC —Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep disappointment over the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The President lamented that, despite giving all the necessary support to the electoral umpire, the exercise was postponed just hours to voting and after Nigerians had taken the pains to travel to vote.
“I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement,” Buhari said in a statement he signed on Saturday morning in Daura, Katsina State.
However, he asked INEC to ensure the safety of election materials already distributed and appealed to Nigerians to remain law abiding.
Buhari also stated that he had decided to relocate to Abuja from Daura to ensure that the meeting INEC called to hold with stakeholders was successfully.
His statement reads further, “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.”
Source: Punch Newspaper
President Buhari’s statement on postponement of elections by INEC
STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT BUHARI ON THE POSTPONEMENT OF GENERAL ELECTIONS BY INEC
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.
Daura, February 16, 2019
Election postponement: I’m disappointed….Balarabe Musa
Former Kaduna State Governor, Balarabe Musa, on Saturday expressed disappointment over the postponement of the general elections, but declared that INEC was never prepared for the exercise in the first place.
INEC had announced the postponement a few hours to the kickoff of the February 16 presidential and National Assembly polls.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while announcing the postponement in Abuja, attributed the step to “overwhelming logistics and operational challenges.”
The Commission fixed February 23 and March 9 as new dates for the presidential and National Assembly elections; and the governorship and state Assembly polls respectively.
But Musa, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Saturday, said he was disappointed, but not surprised, at the development.
“I am not surprised because INEC was never ready for the exercise, given the level of its preparations.
“INEC had serious funding challenges; what was appropriated to the Commission by the National Assembly was not adequate and everyone knew it.
“We are not even sure if the approved amount was released to the electoral body by the Federal Government.
“The logistics and operational challenges are glaring. There are also serious security challenges that may affect the agency in the course of the elections.
“The security services are facing the same funding crises and most of them are living in fear.
“You can also see the serious challenges being faced by the Judiciary, who are supposed to play a major role in the election process,” Musa said.
“So, I must say that I am disappointed; but, again, as I said, I am not surprised. I hope that all the stakeholders will take the necessary measures to help INEC address the issues before February 23, the new date for the presidential polls, because the President can only hand over power to an elected person.”
Musa called on Nigerians to remain calm as they prepare towards the new dates for the polls.
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