Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) yesterday in Abuja expressed concerns that some unscrupulous individuals might exploit the opportunity of the elections’ postponement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hijack the already released electoral materials to rig the forthcoming polls.
The party which described the postponement as wanton and arbitrary, expressed suspicion that INEC might be playing a game against the interest of the electorate, warning the electoral commission against allowing itself to be used by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to manipulate the polls under the guise of postponement.
A statement by the National Chairman of the party, Chief Supo Shonibare, on behalf of the National Working Committee of the party, whose faction had adopted the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as its presidential candidate, listed various adverse effects associated with the postponement.
Shonibare also listed the consequent pains and discomfort that the postponement had unleashed on citizens, saying the party was disappointed that the ruling APC failed to prepare for one general elections in almost four years.
The party which added that the cancellation of the election at the 11th hour, showed INEC’s incompetence, recalled how the APC was vocal in 2015 when the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan postponed elections in what it described as better conditions unlike this sudden postponement which it said came just few hours to the elections.
The party expressed suspicion that the postponement could be a well crafted plan by the APC-led federal government to subvert the formidable opposition posed to it by the PDP.
Shonibare also noted that the postponement could be a carefully conceived and hatched plan by the APC to whittle down the seeming overwhelming influence of Atiku with the overall goal of boosting the chances of the APC.
Concluding that while it had no option than to live with the unpleasant development, the party challenged the commission to ensure that the problems leading to the postponement are totally rectified between now and Thursday ahead of Saturday’s polls.
The statement read: “The masses who constitute the Nigerian Electorate woke up this morning to the shocking news that the long awaited 2019 presidential election, years in preparation, has been postponed by one week to Saturday, 23rd February 2019.
“This seemingly wanton and arbitrary postponement was truly mind numbing to most Nigerians in the light of the privations they have had to go through to prepare for today. To mention a few consequences of the preparations: many schools had to close down temporarily; many employers had to give their staff time off; several offices have suffered loss of revenue; and many have travelled long distance, both locally and internationally.
“The effect of the cancellation and postponement of today’s poll is that the miseries of the electorate will be increased and compounded. We in SDP do agree that our democracy is worth fighting and sacrificing for. Nevertheless, our sacrifices should not be trifled with, rendered meaningless or made to appear childish.
“In the light of the postponement, the NWC of our party held an emergency meeting this morning and comments as follows: We are greatly disappointed at the unpreparedness admitted by INEC and the incompetence communicated by this 11th hour cancellation of today’s poll;
“We are worried that the highly sensitive electoral material already released may be used by unscrupulous persons who wish to steal the mandate of our teeming electorate. We truly hope that INEC will not allow itself to be manipulated by such unpatriotic elements or collaborate with any group, no matter how highly placed, to destroy the integrity of the postponed elections;
“We condemn the attacks on INEC offices and the destruction of INEC electoral materials in areas that are the stronghold of the main, consensus, Opposition Presidential Candidate;
“The APC was very vocal four years ago in its claim that postponements (at least, at that time, not within a very few hours to the start of the Poll) were orchestrated to assist the then ruling party. It appears that the APC has very concrete plans to put their thoughts four years ago into action to subvert the strong Opposition Challenge of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“We have very strong suspicions that this postponement is a carefully conceived and hatched plan to deplete the logistical resources of the Opposition in order to aid the electoral fortunes of the APC.
“We ask the teeming PVC holding masses of Nigeria to not allow themselves to be discouraged or disenfranchised by the shenanigans of any group. Nigeria is our Country and it will become whatever we want it to become.
“Each and every one of us owes a duty to ourselves, our families and our unborn generations to go out to vote your conscience. Vote Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to get Nigeria working and to ensure that the different sections of our dear Nigeria are enabled to further our individual and collective destinies.
“We have very little option than to accept the apology of the INEC Chairman and trust the challenges he has identified will have been rectified by Thursday, so that he can give assurances by that date of the preparedness of INEC to conduct a Nationwide election on Saturday 23rd of February.”