The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has reiterated its commitment to the conduct of general elections in February, in reaction to the call for postponement by the National Security Adviser, NSA, Dasuki Sambo.
At a press briefing in London on Thursday, Mr. Dasuki had called for postponement of elections, according to him, to enable INEC distribute Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, to registered voters who are yet to collect.
The chairman of INEC, Attahiru Jega, said Friday that the commission remains ready to go ahead with the elections as planned.
Speaking at the launch of Mitigation Of Violence In Elections (MOVE) project by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES, Mr. Jega said while he would not respond to media reports of Mr. Dasuki’s call, he could confirm that INEC is determined to hold elections in February.
“We have assured that the issue of concern, namely distribution of PVCs, will be addressed before elections; and the cards will be made for all registered voters. As evidenced in our preparations, we are ready to hold elections in February,” said the INEC Chairman.
He added that over 40 million cards had already been made available, while assuring that the remaining ones will be delivered before the end of January.
He explained that the delay over complete availability of the PVCs results from the fact that some cards are yet to be produced due to late registration during the continuous voters registration, CVR, exercise.
Mr. Jega’s Chief Press Secretary, Kayode Idowu, had earlier expressed the same commitment to PREMIUM TIMES, although he said INEC had not been officially communicated by Mr. Dasuki.
“We are yet to get official correspondence in respect of the reported call for postponement of elections by the NSA. So INEC can’t make decisions based on media report,” Mr. Idowu said Thursday.
“But I can say that INEC is not looking back. We are planning and working to ensure elections hold successfully next month as planned,” Mr. Idowu said.
The call by Mr. Dasuki has been rejected by the opposition All progressives Congress and some civil society groups.
Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of civil society organisations, also rejected the call.
In a statement by its Executive Director, Clement Nwankwo, Situation Room described the call as “an unnecessary interference in the independence of INEC as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution stating that dates for the elections can only be set by INEC”.
INEC has enhanced access to collection of PVCs by Nigerians, with the decentralisation of the distribution to ward level. The time for collection is now 8.30a.m. to 5.30p.m., Mondays to Saturdays.