* Urges INEC to safeguard election materials
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed disappointment over the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The president made his feelings known in a statement he personally signed and read to newsmen by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Daura, Katsina State, on Saturday.
The statement read in parts: “I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.
“Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.
“INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.
“This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.’’
President Buhari urged INEC to ensure not only that “materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.’’
While reaffirming his strong commitment to the independence and neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, Buhari urged all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in the nation’s democratic journey.
He, therefore, appealed to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail the democratic development.
President Buhari explained that his decision to move back to Abuja today was to ensure that the meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders was successful.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the commission had shifted the Presidential and National Assembly elections from Feb.16 to Feb.23, and moved the Governorship and Houses of Assembly elections from March 2 to March 9. (NAN)