Poll Shift: INEC Economical With The Truth, Says Presidency

The presidency has stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was economical with the truth on what led to the postponement of the February 14 and 28 general elections.

It disclosed that the truth of the matter was that INEC was not prepared to conduct the elections as scheduled.

Addressing a cross-section of Nigerian students organised by Concerned Nigerians Resident in the United Kingdom (CNRUK) in London on Monday via skype interaction, the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, maintained that the federal government did not in any way pressurise INEC to change the election dates, but that the body saw reasons why the elections should be shifted forward.

Okupe, who was responding to a question asked by THISDAY on what difference the federal government would make to curtail the excesses of Boko Haram insurgents before the new elections’ dates fixed for March and April, said: “There is economy of words and truth on what INEC said to be the reasons why the general elections was postponed.

“The truth is that INEC was not prepared to conduct the elections. About 33 per cent of voters in Lagos have not collected their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), ballot papers were not readily available and card readers were also not sufficient.”  spoke amid network.

On security, especially as it concerns Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern part of the country, Okupe admitted that the next couple of weeks before the election might not be sufficient to get rid of the terrorist groups, but that adequate measures would be put in place in volatile areas so that elections can hold in the areas.

He also used the opportunity to reiterate the transformation agenda of  President Goodluck Jonathan, stating that the country has recorded a lot of developments within the shortest possible time under Jonathan.

Also, fresh facts from two US organisations – the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republic Institute (IRI) – have shown how the Election Management Board headed by Jega was barely prepared for the elections.

In a joint report by the NDI and IRI titled, “Pre-election Assessment Mission to Nigeria” and dated January 20, the two US institutions faulted INEC’s preparation for the general election. The report was said to have been submitted to Jega.

The mission had as members US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and the Vice-Chairman of the US Institute of Peace, Regalia Bam; former Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, Hon. Patrick Muyaya; member of parliament, Democratic Republic of Congo, Paulina Bake; former President of the Fund for Peace, Michael Bratton; a Professor of Political Science and African Studies at Michigan State university, Robert Lloyd; a professor of International Relations at Pepperdine University and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council of African Centre, Christopher Fomunyoh; a Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West African at NDI, Gretchen Birkle; and the Regional Director for Africa at IRI.

The report showed that the delegation was concerned that millions of permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) had not yet been distributed by INEC.

“Although, INEC plans to move the distribution of the PVCs from the LGA level to the level of wards (which are similar units under the local government area level down to the polling points), that exercise has not started in all the states.

“Moreover, some Nigerians stated that in a number of states, the distribution exercise has repeatedly been postponed in some locations, leading to further erosion of trust in INEC.

“Some Nigerians are still unsure whether a voter without a PVC, but whose name is on the register, will be allowed to vote on election day and what arrangements will be put in place to adjudicate the matters,” report said.

Also, the report indicated that all the card readers were “still under way and not all the card readers have been delivered to INEC… Yet some Nigerians are apprehensive about what would happen should the remaining VCRs not be delivered on time or should many of these new machines malfunction on election day”.

According to the report, “While INEC has specific plans or recruiting ad-hoc poll workers that would include current and former members of the NYSC and students in the tertiary education institutions, some members of the public are concerned that training of these workers has yet to begin.”

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