Jonathan’s campaign contradicts INEC; blames logistics, not security, for polls shift

FILE PHOTO: President Jonathan at PDP Rally in Ibadan

The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation has said that concerns over logistics led the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to reschedule Nigeria’s 2015 general elections, contradicting the electoral body’s claim that security concern was responsible for the shift.

The national elections earlier billed for February 14 and 28 will now hold March 28 and April 11.

The elections include presidential and National Assembly polls scheduled for the first date, and governorship and House of Assembly polls for the second.

The chairman of INEC, Attahiru Jega, who announced the shift Saturday, said the decision followed the “strong advisory” and a warning from the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and military chiefs that they could not guarantee security if the polls go ahead February.

He said the security forces demanded at least six weeks to conclude a major operation against Boko Haram in the North East Region.

But speaking Tuesday evening on the BBC, the director of media of the PDP presidential campaign organization, Femi Fani-Kayode, said the security concern relating to the insurgency in the Northeast, was immaterial to the decision to postpone the elections.

He argued that the problem of logistics, including the challenge of distributing Permanent Voter Cards to valid voters, faced by INEC, led to the postponement.

Defending the Presidency, he said the push for polls shift never emanated from President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The decision to postpone the elections never emanated from the government of President Goodluck Jonathan as being speculated, but from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) owing to the problem of logistics it encountered,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.

But it was Mr. Dasuki, President Jonathan’s security adviser, who gave the first hint that the elections would be postponed.

Speaking in London late January, Mr. Dasuki said he had suggested to INEC that the polls be rescheduled to allow more Nigerians collect their PVCs.

In his letter which eventually compelled INEC to shift the polls, Mr. Dasuki cited security fears, and no longer the PVCs.

Mr. Fani-Kayode said “INEC mainly agreed to shift the dates for the scheduled Nigeria’s general elections mainly because many eligible voters in Nigeria were yet to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs)”.

He stressed that the percentage of those who were yet to get the cards was still high at the time the dates of the elections were shifted.

Mr. Fani-Kayode said Boko Haram became part of the reason for postponing the election “because the Service Chiefs in Nigeria suggested to INEC that they could not guarantee security during a nationwide election, while the attention of the military would be concentrated on the task of flushing the insurgents out of the north-eastern part of Nigeria where they have been operating”.

He also denied that the insurgency has been politicised.

In the wake of the poll shift, foreign governments, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union had condemned expressed disappointment in the development, warning against politicisation of the insurgency.

Praising the military for a “remarkable job,” he said although the insurgents before now were operating freely in some parts of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with a spate of bombings, “the military have responded and fought valiantly to push them to the north-east zone of the country”.

Asked whether or not the PDP would support any further postponement in the event that the military is unable to effectively contain the insurgents within six weeks, Mr. Fani-Kayode said “the constitution of Nigeria has given limitations on the number of days elections should hold before the handover date”.

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