Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, yesterday said the call for the resignation of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, over the postponement of the general election, is unfair and unacceptable.
He also said if the chairman of the electoral umpires resigns, it may affect the conduct of the rescheduled general election next Saturday.
The minister, who spoke with journalists in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, queried that “would Oshiomole have agreed to resign if called upon when he supervised the worst primary elections of the APC?”
Oshiomole had last Saturday while reacting to the postponement of the general election by INEC, called for the resignation of Yakubu, stating that the commission under his leadership has failed Nigerians.
Shittu, however, urged Nigerians to give the INEC chairman the benefit of doubt, noting that even if he resigns, the election may need to be postponed for the new incoming chairman to prepare for fresh elections.
He said: “I will not support such call for the resignation of the INEC chairman. To err is human. We have not seen any political motivation as to what has happened in INEC. If Oshiomole calls for the resignation of the INEC chairman, he should also be preparing to resign as chairman of the party. Did anybody ask him to resign for the horrible management of primary elections under his watch?
“This is the first election that Yakubu will be conducting, so we need to give him the benefit of doubt, and I will advise that all the political parties should be vigilant. If you bring in another chairman, when does such person begin to learn the process? Or will you on the bases of that call for another rescheduling of the elections?
“Certainly, it is unacceptable for anyone to ask for the resignation of the INEC chairman.”
On the banning of election campaign by INEC, Shittu reasoned that such ban cannot be justified by the commission, saying the constitutional provisions which stipulated 24 hours before the election should be upheld.
According to him, “They must justify the ban on campaign under the law. Campaign must stop 24 hours before the elections. Political parties can make use of the best of the time. In a largely illiterate area, many of the electorate must have forgotten what they have been thought particularly on how to vote and how to identify the party logo. I will say any ban extended beyond 48hours will not be justified by anyone.”