The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) yesterday announces the postponement of the much anticipated general elections as a result of the inability of security operatives to guarantee safety of lives and properties.
“There are critical things that fall outside the control of an electoral management body, some critical issues such as security are not under the control of INEC,” Jega said.
According to him, INEC is substantially ready to conduct elections and it is capable of delivering free and fair elections.
“I’ll like to reiterate here that INEC is an electoral management body and not a security agency. In consideration of the advice by the security agencies, it will be unconscionable to have elections without adequate security,” Jega said.
According to Jega, the security agencies reiterated that they will be concentrating their attention to the insurgency and may not be able to play its traditional role in providing security during the elections.
He added that INEC cannot guarantee protection.
“Consequently, the commission has rescheduled the elections – presidential, senatorial and house of assembly elections have been moved to Mach 28 while governorship and state house of assembly have been rescheduled to April 11,” Jega said.
While reiterating the commission’s readiness and promise to deliver free and credible elections, Jega also urged security agencies to stick to their promise and commitment made to INEC.
“We wish to call on all Nigerians to accept this in good faith to deepen democracy in our country Nigeria,” Jega said.
He also told journalists that he is distracted by calls for his resignation.
“If there are sufficient grounds for me to resign, I’ll resign but I assure that I will not resign. Instead of me to show bias and support one party over another in this job, I’ll rather resign. I will not be distracted by calls for resignation, I will only resign if there are legitimate reasons,” Jega said.
He noted that the collection of permanent voter card (PVC) is not sufficient enough to postpone elections.
“The agency that is charged with security has said they can’t provide security on February 14, these are new issues to consider. We cannot deploy staff and materials with no guarantee of security,” Jega said.
He added that the security agencies have assured INEC they can restore normalcy within 6 weeks. He also announced that collection of PVC will also continue.
“It’s not true that 8 million PVCs have not been delivered, 96% has been delivered and sent to states for distribution,” Jega said. “INEC cannot be blamed for people not collecting their cards after it has been distributed.”
He assured Nigerians that everything will be done to avert additional shift after this rescheduling.
“If presidential and governorship elections cannot be held in 4 states in the northeast, the likelihood of an inconclusive election is high,” Jega said.
Concerning the fate of the printed ballot papers Jega said they are secure and kept in a vault at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) until collection 2 days before elections.