17 parties demand poll shift at meeting with INEC

Former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega

Seventeen out of the 28 registered political parties have asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to shift the conduct of the general elections scheduled for February 14 and 28.

The parties canvassed the position at a consultative meeting with INEC, which ended a few hours ago at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

INEC had on Friday announced that it would hold consultative meetings with all relevant bodies, including the political parties, civil society organisations and the resident electoral commissioners.

A source at the meeting told PREMIUM TIMES that leaders of 12 others, including the leading opposition party, All Progressives Congress, stoutly opposed their colleagues who were demanding the shift of the election.

This newspaper gathered that the 17 parties cited the shoddy manner the commission handled the distribution of the Permanent Voters Card, PVCs, and the security challenges in some parts of the country, notably the north east, as its major reasons for calling for the postponement of the polls.

Our source said the manner the parties argued their position clearly indicated that certain elements have reached out to them asking them to support that line of argument.

It could not however be established if they were offered money to do so.

Asked the thinking and body language of INEC officials during the discussion, the source, who is a leader of one of the opposition parties, said “their (INEC officials) body language suggest they want the postponement but are looking for something to hold on to”‎.

He added, “I think they have been told by the security agencies that they will not provide security and so these consultations are merely being held to justify what they plan to do.”

Efforts to reach Yunusa Tanko, who is the Chairman of Interparty Advisory Council, IPAC, the umbrella body of all political parties which serves as advisory body to INEC, were not successful.

INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, had on Thursday briefed the Council of States chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan, on the commission’s preparation for the polls.

The council asked the commission to proceed with the polls, but should seek further consultations with other relevant bodies before taking a final decision on the matter.

Mr. Jonathan is the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, one of the parties in favour of poll shift.
The Presidency, through the special assistant to the president on public affairs, Doyin Okupe, had also on Friday canvassed the postponement of the elections.

Last Wednesday, 16 parties addressed a press conference during which they called for postponement.

The parties are The parties are United Democratic Party, UDP; the Citizen Peoples Party, CPP; the Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN; the Action Alliance, AA; the Peoples Democratic Congress, PDC; the Labour Party, LP; Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN; Alliance for Democracy, AD; New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP; and the Independent Democrat, ID.

Others are Advanced Congress of Democrats, ACD; Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN; Fresh Democratic Party, FDP; National Conscience Party, NCP; All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; and Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA.

The following day, 10 others rejected the calling, expressing shock at the demand of their colleagues.

The parties are the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM; African Peoples Alliance, APA; Kowa Party; Mega Progressives Peoples Party, MPPP; Social Democratic Party, SDP; African Democratic Congress, ADC; Hope Democratic Party, HDP; Democratic Peoples Party, DPP; United Progressives Party, UPP; Accord Party, AP.

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, John Oyegun, also addressed a press conference rejecting calls for the postponement.

The spokesperson of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, PDPPCO, Femi Fani-Kayode, also briefed the media during which he said the party was not pushing for poll shift as being alleged in some quarters.

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