By Monday Ijeh/Desmond Ejibas
Abuja, Feb. 16, 2019 (NNN) Sen. Magnus Abe on Saturday called on voters not to be discouraged by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) decision to postpone the 2019 general elections to Feb. 23 and March 9.
Abe, a member of the APC, representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NNN) in Port Harcourt.
He said that Nigerians should give INEC benefit of doubt to conduct free, fair and credible elections on the new dates.
“The important thing about election is that it should be done well, if it should be done at all.
“If there are too many loose ends that would be unacceptable to all participants and observers; then the right thing to do like INEC has done is to postpone it.
“But I think it would have made more sense if INEC had realised whatever challenges that they had earlier rather than wait till the last minute. The signs should have been there.
Abe said that Nigerians may not have been disappointed with the postponement if they had been informed at the build up to the polls.
The senator said that many had made arrangements as well as travelled across Nigeria and from abroad only to learn of the postponement.
“So, I think INEC owe Nigerians a clearer explanation of what happened. However, there is no time that INEC will hold the election that everybody will vote.
“An election is always decided by those who vote. So, at the end of the day, those who want their contributions to count will have to come out and vote.
“Voters are the ones who will decide outcome of the election. So, my appeal to all Nigerians who wanted to vote is that they should not be discouraged by the postponement,” he said.
Abe, who is the candidate of an APC faction in Rivers, said the delay would also provide an opportunity for aggrieved parties to settle their dispute.
“Like in Rivers state, it’s a good opportunity for the Court of Appeal to deliver judgement over some of the existing contentions bordering on candidature of APC in the state,” he said.
Also, Prof. Abdulhameed Ujo of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, told NNN that Nigerians should exercise patience over the postponement.
Ujo expressed dissatisfaction over the postponement, adding that it was unfortunate after a long period of preparation.
“Nigerians must be patient, this is our country, whatever happens, we should come together and work towards salvaging it.
“For those that have the opportunity to make contributions to the success of the election, this is the right time for it.
“We must rally round INEC to ensure that things are done better and quickly because we cannot afford to postpone the election further.
“For me, we should rally round INEC to succeed because further postponement will directly or indirectly have negative effect on every Nigerian,” he said.
He said that the postponement of the election was a manifestation of INEC’s failure to plan properly and use the right people for the job.
Ujo said that the explanation of the INEC chairman that the challenge was with the distribution of sensitive materials was not cogent enough.
According to him, this is the easiest thing to do in electoral process if you know how to manage elections.
He said that the first thing to do was to get logistics ready, adding that the electoral body had taken things for granted.
“I have a feeling that they took things for granted and with this happening, they may have a serious problem next week.
“Nigerian are already facing psychological problem and coming back to tell them that the election will be postponed again will not be good.
“I will advice that by on Thursday, they should make sure that everything is ready with most of the non-sensitive materials moved to the various states.
“By Friday night and early hours of Saturday, the sensitive materials should be on their way to the various polling units.
“In doing this, there must be good security arrangement to protect the materials the night before the elections,” he said.
NNN reports that INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in a news conference in the early hours of Saturday confirmed speculations that the elections would not hold as scheduled, citing logistic challenges. (NNN)
Edited by Bola Akingbehin/Ifeyinwa Omowole