• Summons emergency caucus meeting

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Th The All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to come up with explanations on its preparations for the presidential and National Assembly election rescheduled for Saturday.

The party has also fixed an emergency meeting of its national leadership caucus for today to deliberate on issues concerning the postponed election.

According to a notice of the meeting issued yesterday by the Publicity Unit of APC, the caucus meeting will hold at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja this morning.

However, addressing a press conference last night, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing and Director of Planning and Election Monitoring of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, said from its recent findings there were indications that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had a pre-knowledge of the postponement announced by the INEC last Saturday.

“There are reports from the social media from our team because we are also monitoring everything. We have credible reports that the opposition party was already calling for postponement through their spokesperson and affiliates in the media,” he said.

Fashola, who expressed concern over the issue of logistics challenge blamed for the election postponement, said that APC feels that INEC had enough time to put things right before last Saturday’s botched poll.

He said: “Again, it speaks to logistics and this is an issue that I have spoken about publicly in 2011, 2015 when we were an opposition party. It just speaks that we need to raise our game. INEC is an institution, managed by people. All of us just need to work harder. We have worked very hard to prepare for this election.

“All these are done through the same road that INEC is having logistics challenges. So, why is this thing happening once in four years? We hope that INEC will be ready. That is why we are saying now, come out in the open. Where did you have problems before? What did you do about it and what are you trying to do to correct it this time?”

Among the demands being made by APC, according to Fashola, is greater openness ahead of the rescheduled election and to know what steps INEC has been taken with CBN.

Fashola, who was flanked by the Director Contact & Mobilization, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, said the party wants the commission to confirm to Nigerians the status of its plans, and what plans to distribute materials ahead of the election

“What problems encountered and steps to address them? What logistics challenged and steps to address them? Will configuration of card readers be ready before the February 23?

“What transport logistics and further materials INEC require in terms of vehicles, boats, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, manpower and funding INEC requires executing the elections of February 23rd and March 9th?

“We need confirmation that the configuration of the card readers will be completed in readiness for Saturday 23rd, 2019.

“In addition to all of these, we believe that INEC should brief Nigerians daily on an ongoing basis until this process is concluded,” he added.

Fashola also said that APC regretted the inability of many voters to get their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) .

“It is unfortunate that not everybody that registered that were able to collect their PVC. I would have loved to see that everybody are able to collect their voters card. As you know, there was a last date for collection and INEC will be in a better position to explain to us why all the cards were not distributed.

“From our situation room, we were ready and was in touch with all our staff nationwide. We know what it takes to do this. But INEC will be in a better position to decide.”

Regarding the poor welfare provided for the Youth Corp members serving as ad-hoc staff, Fashola urged the commission to take further measures to take care of the corp members.

Fashola, who said that the party has been engaged in extensive consultations within the leadership, also apologised to Nigerians over the inconveniences the postponement of the election may have caused them.

To party members, the minister urged them to stay calm, determined and to come out en masse on February 23 to vote for APC, President Muhammadu Buhari and all APC senators and House of Representatives candidates.