ABUJA–Barely two weeks to the general election, some former members of the 2014 National Conference yesterday added their voices to the calls for the postponement of the election, saying that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),was not ready for the polls.
The delegates, apparently allies of President Goodluck Jonathan, in their separate presentations on the issue at a symposium titled “The National Conference and the 2015 Elections organized by the HH Macaulay Centre for the Advancement of Democracy at Transcorp Hilton hotel Abuja said going ahead with the election when many Nigerians were yet to collect their Permanent Voter Card, PVCs would mean disenfranchising thousands of eligible voters.
Some of the delegates who were mainly discussants included Col. Tony Nyiam, Mr. Dan Nwanyanwu, Madam Anko. Briggs, Chief Mike Ozekhome, Mr. Yinka Odumakin amongst others.
Senator Femi Okoromu who was also a delegate to the defunct conference was the chairman of the occasion.
Though some of the panelists differed on the postponement of the elections for fear of prompting violence and protest in the country, some however favored the call.
For instance, the former National Chairman of Labour Party (LP) , Chief Dan Nwanyanwu was one of those who supported the call.
According to him, INEC had fallen short of the expectations of many Nigerians in the distribution of the PVCs.
“We should not get to the point where INEC would after commencing the voting process call off the votes based on discrepancies. As far as I am concerned INEC is not ready for this election and we will see this in the 12 days,” he said.
Also speaking, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Chief Mike Ozehkome also advised that it would amount to the disenfranchisement of many Nigerians should the elections be held as slated without considering the inadequacies of INEC.
“We may need to consider postponing the election so that we do not have a tyrannical minority electing a president to the detriment of the silent helpless majority”, he said.
In his own presentation, Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd), who spoke from his military background warned that Nigeria should not repeat the Mali experience.
He regretted that Nigerian army of today has been politicized, stressing that that informed why soldiers would desert their duty posts on sighting the Boko haram insurgents in the north east.
Making a contribution to the presentations, a member of audience and Journalist, Mrs. Nkechi Isah decried the insistence of the election postponement by the agitators.
According to her, the issue has been over-flogged even as she said that INEC whose responsibility it was to shift the polls has maintained that it was ready to conduct a credible election.
Meanwhile, a civil society coalition, Forum For Democratic Change yesterday staged a protest rally in Abuja in the support of the polls shift.
Speaking to Journalists in Abuja on Monday, the Coordinator of the group, Mr. Solomon Chuks said that call become necessary due to admittance of INEC that many of the PVCs had not been collected by their owners.
He said “We must commend INEC for introducing the PVC in our electoral lexicon. The idea behind the PVC is to deepen our electoral processes in such a way that we can have free and fair elections.
“Since the commencement of the collection of the PVCs, INEC has deployed its best resources, human and financial to ensure that every registered voter collects his or her own before the February 14, election.
“However, despite it’s best efforts, the results, as indicated by INEC are that nearly 20 million PVC are yet to be collected across the country.
“Over and above this, it might give disgruntled politicians an opportunity to scuttle our democracy which was not only hard earned but also protected and nurtured over the past 16 years.
“As protectors of Nigeria’s democracy, we in the civil society under the aegis of the FDC join other well-meaning like the former governor of Kaduna, Alhaji Balarabe Musa who has called on the INEC to take advantage of the window inherent Electoral Act of 1999 ( as amended) to adjust the election time table and postpone the elections so that the commission can have more time to distribute the PVC and save Nigeria from crisis.