INEC needs support not strong rhetoric 


After the initial shock following the postponement of the general elections, it is now time for reason and statesmanship. The rhetoric offers the last couple of days have dragged for too long such that political parties and their candidates who are supposed to return to campaign beats have instead chosen to heat up the polity using the media. This seeming unpatriotic stance is not an exclusive preserve of any of the 91 political parties. What is more, 23 are more concerned about what the two major political parties are saying and they haven’t spoken with decorum.
As a result, the chairman of The Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has charged political actors to be more circumspect. “While we fully understand the disappointment and even anger that followed the rescheduling of the elections on 16th February, I wish to appeal to stakeholders to be more dispassionate and circumspect in their comments in order not to overheat the polity,” Yakubu said. This is reassuring coming from the head of the commission.
Going forward, the chairman has recounted steps taken by the commission to ensure that Saturday’s election does not suffer the same fate as was last week’s. Yakubu’s revealed that all materials for the Saturday election have been moved to states. “Any materials still in offices are those for the elections coming up on the 9th March” and insisted that logistics activities had gone into advanced stages. To the politicians, Yakubu said: “Don’t overheat the polity. We will stay on the course and our earlier vow that only the votes of Nigerians will determine who wins.”
He continued “Our state offices commenced the process of inviting stakeholders to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to examine the retrieved materials deployed last week and to witness the batching of materials according to local government areas. This is ongoing at the moment and is expected to be completed today (Tuesday, 19th February, 2019,” Yakubu said. The INEC chairman said that the movement of materials to LGAs for batching according to wards and polling units shall take place today and tomorrow (that is Wednesday and Thursday), he declared.
Furthermore, the INEC boss said “all registration area centres, RACs are to be activated by 9.00am on Friday, 22nd February, 2019. Personnel and materials should be at the MCs by mid-day on Friday, 22, February 2019. Refresher training for ad-hoc personnel should take place at the MCs on Friday, 22nd February 2019. Personnel and materials must arrive at the polling units latest 7am on Saturday, 23rd February, 2019. Opening of polls nationwide will take place at 8am on Saturday, 23rd February, 2019,” Yakubu said. “You would recall that in my address to stakeholders, I mentioned that we intended to reschedule the elections for just 24 hours to enable us to deliver the final batch of sensitive materials for the elections. However, our ICT team notified us that it would require more time to reconfigure the Smart Card Readers in time for the elections”.
From his explanation, it appears, the commission has identified and are working assiduously to ensure they deliver a fair process.  So what they need is our cooperation. That does not mean we shouldn’t raise an alarm as the media if anyone becomes suspicious within the remaining days. Nothing should prevent the rescheduled poll on 23rd. We therefore call on all stakeholders, including the media to direct their attention towards what INEC is doing to resolve their issues instead of what politicians are saying. We have to get this right. Politicians will always complain about every minute thing. So while they should be listened to, more prominence should be given to what INEC and security agencies are doing.
Political parties have had this week, including today to campaign, we are also not sure they have taken advantage of this window in a very strategic manner. This is unfair to the electorate and Nigerians in general. But we are still learning. One thing is clear though political rhetoric, no matter how high pitched, is the same in every democracy. The people should not be overtly anxious. Reports of relocation out of Nigeria is far fetched. If everyone works together for the good of the country, the fear that drives people out of the country during election will be minimized. The president therefore must lead by example. He should encourage not vilify the commission or its activities.

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