Nigerians In Ghana Blame ‘Incompetent’ Buhari For Election Postponement
Some Nigerian residents in Ghana, have expressed shock and disappointment at the postponement of the Nigeria’s presidential and National Assembly elections hours before voting was scheduled to start, blaming incumbent President Buhari for the decision.
Announcing the postponement of the polls about 3 a.m. last Saturday, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said: “Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.
“Consequently, the commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February, 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections are rescheduled to Saturday, 9th March, 2019. This will afford the commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.”
Prof. Yakubu, also told a press conference last Saturday that there were as many as 640 cases in court against the INEC arising from the nomination of candidates.
Besides, he said, as of last Saturday there were 40 court orders against the commission to drop or add a candidate.
The INEC Chairman, who described the decision as “painful but necessary”, further disclosed that even though ballot papers and result sheets were ready, they could not be airlifted to various parts of the country.
But some Nigerians in Ghana would not take the reasons given by the INEC, blaming the “incompetence” of the Buhari government for the turn of events.
In interviews with WakeUpAfrica in Accra, yesterday, some Nigerians said INEC had it wrong to have postponed the elections at the 11th hour, but blame Buhari for the ultimate decision.
“The incompetence of Buhari is the result of this postponement. How should we accept the election results next week especially should the incumbent win,” Temitope Ajide, a Nigerian resident in Ghana argued.
While some expressed fear that the postponement would affect the turnout of the election, others contended that Nigeria’s image would forever be dented.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation, Chief Isaac Chigbata Ogbonna, said: “I am disappointed in INEC and also concerned about the cost the postponement will have on the Nigerian economy.”
History repeats itself
This is not the first time that Nigeria has postponed scheduled national elections, and some Nigerians wonder why the INEC refused to learn from past experiences.
It happened in 2011 and 2015, and in both cases the commission alluded to late arrival of voting materials and insecurity, as reasons for postponing the elections it had taken the commission years to prepare for.
Mr Goodluck Jonathan won the 2011 presidential election, while Mr Mahamudu Buhari, swept his way to victory in the 2015 presidential poll.
In postponing last Saturday’s elections, the INEC ruled out further campaigning by political parties and any extension of the collection of voter cards.
The rescheduling of the elections also affected businesses, flight arrangements and schedules of many travellers, as voters complained of the consequences the postponement would have on their planned programmes.
President Buhari had gone to his home in Adamawa to vote, and when he heard of the postponement of the elections, he grew furious.
The last-minute postponement drew President Buhari and his main challenger in the presential election, Atiku Abubakar, the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, into a blame game.
While President Buhari expressed disappointment with the INEC, especially when it had “given assurances that it was ready for the elections”, Mr Atiku launched a blistering attack on the government, accusing it of instigating the delay.
“Their plan is to provoke the public, hoping for a negative reaction, and then use that as an excuse for further anti-democratic acts,” the main opposition leader said.
Fears and concerns
One of the leaders of a Nigerian group in Ghana, Murtala Seidu, expressed fear that come February 23, this year, the turnout at voting centres might suffer because, people had to travel all over the world to come and cast their ballot.
“I personally have no doubt that come February 23, this year, the turnout at voting centres in Nigeria will be disappointing. Many Nigerians have travelled to their voting centres to participate in the elections. The question is: will they be willing to return and turn up again for the voting next Saturday?” he asked.
But an international relations expert, Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, is full support of the INEC’s decision, describing it as “a normal thing”.
“For me, it’s a normal thing. The INEC found out that from the point of view of logistics and security, they needed to postpone it because the aftermath could have been bad,” he told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday.
Dr Antwi-Danso, who is a Dean at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, argued that it was better postponing the elections than going ahead and having post-election strife.
Giving reasons for his position, he said a few days ago, electoral materials were destroyed when fire engulfed an INEC building in one of the states.
“I was thinking that it was at that point that they should have postponed the elections,” he stated.
Again, he said: “Only yesterday, we heard that more than a million ballot papers purported to have already been stamped in favour of the President were located.”
With the developments, he said, there was no reason to fault the INEC for postponing the polls, stressing: “These are genuine reasons.”
“So with all these things in mind, the INEC found it necessary to postpone the elections, rather than having elections which are not credible, free and fair and which may have induced post-electoral violence,” he posited.
Dr Antwi-Danso was also of the view that the postponement could have gone beyond the one-week period, which he described as “a little too short”.
Nonetheless, he said, the INEC knew better.
“They know what they have and what they don’t have and so I wouldn’t fault them. I think these were genuine decisions taken in the right direction, but whether it is what will solve the problem they envisaged is another ball game,” he said.
The security expert admonished Nigerians to exercise patience because if the INEC had not taken that decision, things could have been worse.
He expressed the hope that the electoral body would be able to plug the hole it saw, so that on the day of elections things would go on well to deepen Nigeria’s democracy
The new date for the general elections is 23 February 2019, postponed from 16 February, 2019.
By Gideon Sarpong | WakeUpAfrica360