Our attention has been drawn to the general public disquiet, occasioned by the sudden postponement of Nigeria’s General Election 2015, by the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
In his nationwide broadcast of 7 February 2015, only six days to the General Elections, the INEC Chairman rescheduled the Presidential Election from 14 February 2015 to 28 March 2015.
By this postponement, the new date for the Governorship and Legislative elections has been set for 11 April 2015.
We have discounted hearsay and closely studied the official reasons as well as the constitutional arguments marshaled for this unusual postponement.
We wish to state as follows:
- The issues involved in this postponement are beyond the textual interpretation of the Constitution and/or Electoral Act.
- The Nigerian people, as the embodiment of Laws, should be the benchmark for testing the reasonableness of this postponement.
- INEC’S admitted un-readiness, after four years of costly preparation, is a clear demonstration that the Nigerian people who have been counting on February 14 2015 as the day to exercise their ultimate power of choice have not received value for their money. The fact that Nigerians were led to believe that INEC was ready for the election raises serious questions of transparency and credibility.
- This postponement, therefore, raises a structural challenge of disorder and lack of accountability in Nigeria.
- By creating this uncertainty, INEC has shown itself to be either incompetent or grossly negligent. Their actions and inactions have caused serious psychological dent on Nigerians, home and abroad. The attendant social, political and economic costs are massive.
- Internationally, INEC’s lethargy gravely affects our national image and fuels the growing perception of corruption and disorder.
- In an ordered society, there should be a price to pay for incompetence or negligence. Therefore, it is right and proper that INEC be reprimanded for this breach of trust.
- For all the political parties, this delay and general disquiet it has caused should send a clear signal that there is a higher stake in the 2015 elections. That stake is the very survival of the State itself. Therefore, all political actors must cautiously guard their words and actions.
- For the general public, ‘delay is not denial’. Let this postponement serve as a wake-up call for all eligible voters to pick up their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and prepare to exercise and defend their ultimate right to affirm or revoke power.
- For the Federal Government of Nigeria, it is very crucial that 29 May 2015 handover of power remains consecrated. No further defilements or deferments should be contemplated. The incumbent President and government owe it as a solemn duty to the over 160 Million Nigerians to secure our State and democracy. “The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain!”
Dr. Wilfred Mamah,
Partner/Head, Development Law Group
Associate, Development Law Group