By Stanley Nkwocha
The rescheduled 2015 general election hitherto scheduled for February 14, 2015 but now to start March 28, 2015 has generated much hue and cry across the polity.
The shifts which started with insinuations by the national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, became real following deep concerns raised by service chiefs to the INEC, expressing deep security concerns over the conduct of the elections : in very clear terms, lives and properties across board and most importantly INEC officials, staff, logistics and others could not be guaranteed.
Since then, consequences on the election shift as it affects the nation’s integrity, economy, political will, unity, the politicians themselves, the electorate, institutions, and the effects of insurgencies in the land has become subject of intense discuss.
The PDP and the APC have been at each other’s throat, over the cancellation taking variant positions on the shift of the polls with the director of media and publicity of the PDP presidential campaign, Femi Fani-Kayode, saying the decision was in the best interest of the nation.
Kayode said in a statement: “Since this decision has been taken in the interest of deepening democracy and in national interest, we accept it in good faith and we commend INEC’s courage and obvious commitment to ensuring a free and fair election.
“With this decision, INEC has allayed the fears of many of our citizens that they may not have had the opportunity to vote for the candidates and parties of their choice on Election Day.
“INEC has, by the decision, ensured that no one will be disenfranchised and has helped to guarantee the safety and security of every single one of our citizens during the course of the elections.
“The shift of date is a welcome development. It is solely the decision of INEC. The decision is not ours but we commend them (INEC) for showing courage by owning up to the fact that they are not ready to go ahead on February 14th. The shift will help INEC to organise themselves properly, to put their house in order and to put in place all the necessary arrangements for the polls. The shift will also enable the nation’s security agencies to do what they have to in order to secure the north-eastern zone and ensure that elections can hold there,” Fani Kayode stated.
However, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, chairman of the APC, has described the postponement as a blow to Nigeria’s democracy. In a statement after the Independent National Electoral Commission gave the new date, Oyegun asked his supporters to remain calm while the leadership continued monitoring INEC’s conduct.
Said Oyegun, “All Progressives Congress, APC has just heard over the news media that The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has decided to postpone the elections by six weeks on the strength of a letter by the security chiefs that they cannot provide security for the elections nationwide because of the commitment of its resources to fight insurgency in the north eastern part of the country.
“This is clearly a major setback for Nigerian democracy, and our Party is meeting in emergency session to study its implications and will inform Nigerians of its decisions in the next few days.
“In the meantime though what has happened is highly provocative, I strongly appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm and desist from violence and any activity which will compound this unfortunate development. We must not fall into this obvious trap. Change we must. They can only delay it; No one can stop it.
“I want to assure all Nigerians that the All Progressives Congress will not abandon its commitment to change and will sustain the struggle to establish a new Nigeria,’ Oyegun’s statement read in part.
On his part, Senate President, David Mark, solicited for understanding and unity of the nation, saying the nation must come first before any partisan consideration.
“ We all must take the path of caution in order not to jeopardise the process towards a successful exercise in the Nigeria project etc.
“It is a necessary step to avoid anarchy and chaos because of some shortcomings and insecurity fuelling the already charged atmosphere,” Mark said in a statement by his chief press secretary, Paul Mumeh.
Interestingly while all members of the PDP seem to be supporting the shift of the polls, their counterparts in the APC blame the PDP for the shift, saying they tactically secured the shift by blackmailing INEC.
While the politicians banter some businessmen are smiling to the banks as more added time means more supplies and added cash to the banks for the politicians. The economy is definitely on the watch with most also blaming the service chiefs for compromising national interest for politics.
As things stand, except the elections get underway in March, all fingers remain crossed as to the fate of 2015 elections. For now the debate continue.