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Election Postponement: INEC Chairman To Meet With Stakeholders Today



Following the decision by the Council of State asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to go ahead with the presidential election scheduled for next Saturday, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, is to meet today with some stakeholders to decide whether or not the elections would hold as scheduled.
Jega, according to a statement issued by Kayode Idowu, his Chief Press Secretary, will hold separate meetings with chairmen and secretaries of all registered political parties in the country as well as with all Resident Electoral Commissioners. It is expected that after the meetings, the INEC boss will hold a press conference to inform the nation whether or not the elections will hold as scheduled.
In a related development, the Presidency on Friday assured that it would not engage in subterfuge to prevent the conduct of the general election as scheduled but has pointed out that a number of factors make a shift in the date necessary to avoid throwing the country into confusion.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, also clarified that Professor Jega never insisted at any meeting held at the Presidential Villa Abuja that he would go ahead with the election on the present scheduled dates.
According to him, “In Jeja’s presentations to the council, the INEC Chairman stated clearly that for the electoral process to be free, fair, and credible, there are other matters which were not under the control of INEC, principal among which is the issue of provision and guarantee of security of lives and properties. The security chiefs were unanimous in their advice to the council that it will be impossible for now for them to guarantee security of electoral materials, INEC staff, and the voting population in the areas currently engulfed by the war against insurgency.”
Okupe further said: “For the avoidance of doubt, Nigerians are hereby re-assured that there has never been, and never shall be, any plan to cancel the 2015 elections, for any reasons whatsoever. It will not happen, and the May 29 date for the swearing-in is sacrosanct. All talks about interim government arrangement are pure fiction. The consideration behind the possibility of change of date is to allow those who may be disfranchised from voting on the 14th February to have an opportunity to exercise their rights to vote and participate in the general elections.
“The new wave of successes being recorded by the military in the war against insurgency, especially with the arrival of new effective combatant equipment and machinery, plus the newly revamped cross border co-operation with Nigerien, Chadian and Cameroonian military offer a very genuine hope that in a very short while, the situation in the affected states will be brought under control that will guarantee safety of the electoral process and electorate in the region of the North–East at a no distant future.
“We repeat that the only set of people who stand to benefit from a shift in election dates are Nigerians who desire to vote and have not been able to collect their permanent voters cards and other innocent citizens living in the war zone who may not be able to vote on February 14.We also wish to recollect that in 2003, 2007, and 2011, the elections were held in April, and the handover date was not affected.We, therefore, challenge the opposition to tell Nigerians, in clear terms, what dangers the change of date from February 14 portends to the electoral process or to the electorate.It will also be good if the opposition tells us who stands to benefit or be disadvantaged from any shifting of date and how.”

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