INEC chairman announced the postponement of the 2015 general elections. Below is the full statement he gave to the press…
Ladies and Gentlemen, We invited you here today to make known the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the timetable for the 2015 general elections. Let me state from the outset that the Commission’s position was reached after carefully weighing the suggestions from briefings held with different stakeholders in the electoral process.
The conduct of elections in a country like Nigeria is invariably a collective venture that involves not just the Election Management Body (EMB), but also a diverse range of stakeholders, notably security agencies, political parties and their candidates, voters, as well as interest groups, such as the civil society organizations and the media.To guarantee successful conduct of elections, there are things that are wholly the responsibility of the EMB. But there are other things critical for the success of elections, which fall outside the control of the EMB.
In other words, while INEC must work hard to perfect its systems and processes for conducting elections, and take responsibility for any imperfections thereof, whatever the Commission does may not by itselfbe sufficient to guarantee the success of elections. There are a number of issues in the preparation and conduct of an election, the most critical of which is security, which is not under the control of INEC.
Current State of INEC’s Preparedness
On Thursday, February 5, 2015, I was invited to brief the National Council of State, which is the highest advisory to the President comprising past and present leaders in Nigeria, on the level of preparedness of INEC to conduct the 2015 general elections. I made a presentation to the Council titled ‘Preparations for the 2015 General Elections: Progress Report,’ in which I gave a detailed account of what the Commission has been doing in readiness for the national elections (National Assembly and Presidential) scheduled for February 14th, and the state elections (Governorship and State Assembly) scheduled for February 28th, 2015.
The summary of my presentation to the National Council of State meeting is that, for matters under its control, INEC is substantially ready for the general elections as scheduled, despite discernible challenges being encountered with some of its processes like the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) by registered members of the public.
In addition, INEC has been doing everything it can to facilitate the collection of the PVCs by registered members of the public.As at 5thFebruary 2015, the total number of PVCs collected was 45, 829, 808, representing 66.58% of the total number of registered voters.
In the delivery and deployment of electoral materials, INEC is also at a comfort level in its readiness for the general elections as scheduled (see the presentation to the Council of State). The Commission’s preparations are not yet perfect or fully accomplished. But our level of preparedness, despite a few challenges, is sufficient to conduct free, fair and credible elections as scheduled on February 14th and February 28th. Compared with 2011 when, within a short time, we conducted general elections that were universally adjudged free, fair and credible and the best in Nigeria’s recent electoral history, our processes are today better refined, more robust and therefore capable of delivering even better elections.
But as I mentioned earlier, there are some other variables equally crucial for successful conduct of the 2015 general elections that are outside the control of INEC. One important variable is security for the elections.
While the Commission has a very good working relationship with all security agencies, especially on the platform of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) since its inception in 2010, it has become pertinent for it to seriously consider the security advisory presented to it by the Security and Intelligence Services. I would like to reiterate here that INEC is an EMB and not a security agency. It relies on the security services to provide a safe environment for personnel, voters, election observers and election materials to conduct elections wherever it deploys. Where the security services strongly advise otherwise, it would be unconscionable of the Commission to deploy personnel and call voters out in such a situation.
Last Wednesday, which was a day before the Council of State meeting, the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) wrote a letter to the Commission, drawing attention to recent developments in four Northeast states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe currently experiencing the challenge of insurgency. The letter stated that security could not be guaranteed during the proposed period in February for the general elections.
This advisory was reinforced at the Council of State meeting on Thursday where the NSA and all the Armed Services and Intelligence Chiefs unanimously reiterated that the safety and security of our operations cannot be guaranteed, and that the Security Services needed at least six weeks within which to conclude a major military operation against the insurgency in the Northeast; and that during this operation, the military will be concentrating its attention in the theatre of operations such that they may not be able to provide the traditional support they render to the Police and other agencies during elections.
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