By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
As Nigerians continue to react to the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections, a governorship candidate and member of the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed mixture of disappointment and optimism over the development.
The prominent unionist and National Executive Council (NEC) member of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Issa Aremu, who is the Kwara State governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in his reaction to the postponement, said while he was disappointed, he added that the incident has opened a window of opportunity for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to present Nigeria with free, fair and credible elections.
According to Aremu, “We read the text speech of INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, which postponed scheduled elections with mixed feelings. First with disappointment for our candidates and members ready to exercise their democratic rights but could not do so. Secondly we also received the news with some optimism that INEC has another one week to put the proper arrangements in order for free and fair elections.”
He, however, expressed the willingness of his party to collaborate with the electoral umpire, saying “Labour Party is ready and willing to partner INEC for successful rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23, 2019, and the governorship, state House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections on the March 9, 2019.”
He said the expectation was that INEC must improve on its corporate governance by sticking to its rescheduled time tables in order to sustain the confidence it has commendably engendered so far in the preparations for the 2019 elections.
“It is certainly unacceptable that some voting materials are not ready after four years of preparations. It is also embarrassing that the postponement came so late in the day with all the attendant costs for poor voters who had to travel to and fro to vote.
“There was enough notification for 2015 postponement based on security reasons. INEC is right that the postponement is “one difficult decision,” but it is even more challenging for the electorate and candidates alike who woke up for no voting show,” he stated.
Urging stakeholders to bear with INEC for successful polls next week, Aremu emphasised that it is “better late than never. All is well that ends well in the consolidation of Nigerian democratic process.”