A further postponement of Nigeria’s general elections beyond the rescheduled polling day of March 28 would be “unconstitutional”, INEC boss, Attahiru Jega, said on Wednesday. “I don’t see how anybody can contemplate any extension beyond these six weeks because there is no constitutional grounds on which you can do that,” Jega
said in testimony to the Senate.
Jega told the chamber that INEC was prepared to hold the vote on the original polling day, February 14, but was persuaded to support a delay by guidance from the country’s security chiefs. National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki and military top brass said soldiers would not be able provide election security nationwide because they were fighting Boko Haram in the northeast.
Asked how he would respond if the security agencies requested a further delay, Jega referred to a constitutional provision that requires elections to be concluded at least 30 days before May 29, when a new government must be sworn in. “Every Nigerian knows we want elections to hold… within a constitutional timeframe,” he told senators.
“The security agencies are (made up of) patriotic Nigerians. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.” But he added that a further delay “will only have to be unconstitutional and I don’t see how anybody can contemplate unconstitutional things”. There were widespread accusations that the military pushed for the delay to allow President Goodluck Jonathan more time to revive his struggling re-election campaign. Experts say he is facing a tough test against Muhammadu Buhari with the vote likely too close to call.