The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says there is no more room for political campaign or collection of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in spite of the postponement of elections dates by one week.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure while fielding questions at the commission’s meeting with stakeholders, on Saturday in Abuja.
Yakubu said that the deadline for the collection of PVCs and elections campaign by political parties according to election timetable has passed.
“Campaign closed on Thursday, Feb. 14, and for the period that remain campaign remained closed.
“All the other process that remain in the main timetable remain closed including the collection of PVC, except the conduct of the elections,” he said.
On why the commission did not consult party leaders before adjusting the dates of the elections, Yakubu said that it was due to the urgency and that Section 36 of the Electoral Act empowered the commission to do so.
“We have to take a decision and communicate because polls were suppose to open at 8a.m. and we took the decision at 2a.m,” he said.
Yakubu while answering question on why the commission waited till about 3a.m on Saturday before postponing the elections, said that up till 2a.m the commission was still hopeful that elections would hold as scheduled.
On whether the commission has enough fund should the elections be postponed again, Yakubu said that INEC was not complaining, adding that the commission do not intend to postpone any of the elections again.
On request that INEC should compensate political parties for the change in dates, Yakubu said that INEC did not finance parties.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Adams Oshiomole, expressed displeasure that INEC waited till last few hour before announcing the postponement to Nigerians, demanding the apology of Yakubu to Nigerians and political parties.
He said the postponement entailed huge loss to political parties who had no public fund to fall on like INEC, saying if the postponement was done on time, loss and inconveniences to political parties would have been avoided.
“Serious inconveniences has been caused, Nigerians have been subjected to rude shock and I fell extremely cold.
“I think we should be honest. I am shocked, disappointed and disgusted.
“The real question I will insist, Mr Chairman by all due respect, is to tell us why by Wednesday you did not announce the postponement, since you acknowledged that the weather was bad.
“You should have taken all these into account and announced this postponement at least 48 hours before the elections time, so that political parties don’t have to mobilise resources across 176,000 Polling units.
“Observer will stay where they were and a lot of inconveniences would have been saved,” Oshiomole said.
Representing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Osita Chidoka, former Aviation Minister and Chairman, Strategy Committee of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, commended decision of the commission for not allowing the experienced challenges to lead to staggered elections.
Chidoka, requested for INEC assurance that Activate Technologies Limited, one of the companies producing the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), would not be involved in the retrieval and reconfiguration of card readers to be used for the rescheduled elections.
He said that available information was that the Managing Director of of the company was a senatorial candidate of APC in Niger State.
He also requested that the commission should allow independent verification that sensitive materials to be retrieved to the CBN had not been opened or tampered with.
The National Chairman, Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), Chief Peter Ameh, said initially he was angered that INEC did not consult political parties like it was being done before change of election date in the past.
Ameh, who is also the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), however, said that with the explanation by INEC Chairman, it was clear that the decision was taken in the interest of the nation.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that INEC had shifted the Presidential and National Assembly elections from Feb. 16 to Feb. 23 and the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections from March 2 to March 9.