INEC postpones Edo governorship election to September 28
• PDP, Fayose condemn move, say it’s illegal
• Oshiomhole insists APC is ready, APGA okays shift.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday postponed the Edo State governorship election scheduled for tomorrow. It based its action on security advice. The polls will now hold on September 28, 2016.
Earlier, in the week, the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) had in a joint statement urged INEC to reschedule the polls, saying there were plans by unscrupulous persons to foment trouble.
INEC, which had repeatedly restated its readiness to hold the election, had said it would hold consultations with the security agencies before arriving at a decision.
INEC, in a statement by its National Commissioner (Voters Education and Publicity), Soyebi Solomon, said: “At about 6:00p.m. today (yesterday), the Commission received official communication from the Police and the DSS drawing its attention to the need to postpone the Edo governorship elections. Such postponement is necessary in view of threats of terrorist activities in Edo State and other states of the federation during the election and over the Sallah period.
“The deployment of security personnel, country wide, to secure lives and property, would overstretch their capacity to, at the same time, provide adequate security for the election.
“Consequently, the Commission notes the request of the security agencies. And considering the security implications of proceeding with the election, the safety of eligible voters, electoral officials, including ad-hoc staff, and other stakeholders, INEC has decided to reschedule the Edo governorship elections to Wednesday, September 28, 2016.”
The PDP, meanwhile, has described the postponement as illegal, saying: “Democracy is under a serious threat from the APC and its Gestapo security agencies.”
The leadership of the party, led by Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, in a statement, yesterday, reiterated its earlier position that the date should not have been changed.
The statement, by the spokesman of the PDP national caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, reads in parts: “The postponement of the election by the top hierarchy of the security agencies predicated on alleged security threat was a less than ingenious attempt to buy time for the APC, which was clearly heading for a major electoral catastrophe on Saturday.”
Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, also described the postponement as the beginning of the end for democracy in Nigeria.
“It is obvious that the APC feared that it couldn’t win the election and was ready to employ whatever crude means to subvert the wish of the people,” he said.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said: “It was just a game by the APC-led Federal Government to frustrate the people of Edo State from kick-starting the journey of changing the APC’s ‘one-chance change’ in Nigeria. But they should realise that the power of the people will always be greater than the power of those in power.
“How can you postpone an election, less than 48 hours to the scheduled date? What manner of security concern could prevent an election in just one state, when elections were held in northeast states that are confronted by Boko Haram insurgents?
“Obviously, this is a sign of what is to come in 2019, and Nigerians should not be amazed if in 2019, they tell us that elections cannot be conducted.”
The PDP opposed the postponement, saying the ruling All Progressives Congress was scared.
State chairman of the party, Dan Orbih, said. “Few days ago, Adams Oshiomhole’s APC sponsored some group of boys to demonstrate to the government house and the secretariats of the APC and the PDP, asking for postponement of the election because they were preparing for the Mathematics paper in the GCE examinations.
“They have seen that it will not work, hence they resorted to this other alternative plan that there were security concerns and that the election should be postponed. Having failed in their bid to convince the electorate, they are out to use available means to buy time.”
Oshiomhole on his part had said his party was “over prepared” for the election and appealed to INEC not to postpone the “final burial of the PDP.”
He said: “The APC is ready for the election, and that was why we held our mega rally on Tuesday. And after that rally, our people across the state became more committed, more dogged and ready for the election.
“However, security issues are security issues. And as regards elections, they are very critical. If on their own they are calling on INEC for postponement, I am sure they must have their reasons because they are experts. If you recall, we raised the alarm that the PDP had planned to import thugs from neighbouring states to help them unleash mayhem on our people because they are not prepared for the election.”
The All Progressives Grand Alliance candidate, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu, had said he was of the view that the polls should be shifted, to allow the students write their exams.
He said: “I am supporting the call for the postponement because at the stakeholders meeting today (Wednesday), I told them to postpone it. Education is one of the solutions to the nation’s problems. We can’t be talking of examinations and deny the students their rights. Now, even if they relocate the students to other areas or states, some of them are eligible voters.”