A leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has attributed last weekend’s election postponement to the fear of President Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples’ Democratic Party losing the polls.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Tinubu accused the president of engineering the shift in order to extend his stay in office.
“What happened Saturday was actually not a postponement due to security or logistical reasons,” said Mr. Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor.
“What happened was the by-product of overt political interference undermining the independence of the election management body, INEC. The elections were postponed not because they could safely be held. They were postponed because one man, President Jonathan, feared that an election held on February 14 would for him become an election lost.
“While the mouth was Jega, the words were Jonathan. He chose to place our democracy at risk than do what democracy demands by facing and risking the verdict of the people. That he would use our security agencies to provide his excuse only adds insult to injury.
“This act was one desperation of a man in fear of defeat. It was not done for the national good. It was the wrong thing done for the wrong reason by the wrong man.”
Last Saturday, the Independent National Electoral Commission announced a six week shift in the general elections originally scheduled for February 14 and 28 for the Presidential/National Assembly and Governorship/State House of Assembly respectively.
According to the Commission, the election will now hold on March 28 and April 11.
Attahiru Jega, the INEC Chairman, blamed the postponement on the inability of the nation’s security agencies to guarantee protection of its staff if the election went ahead as earlier scheduled.
Mr. Tinubu insisted that the reasons given by the “heavily intimidated” Mr. Jega does not withstand close scrutiny nor the rigours of logical thought.
“It is nothing but a lie draped in a falsehood born by deceit,” he said.
“For the Service Chiefs to be inserted in the electoral process in this manner and at the eleventh hour reveals nothing but a cynical plot to thwart elections.
“President Jonathan has revealed that he only wants elections where the guarantee is that he shall win. This is not the nature of democratic elections. Jonathan’s government has purposefully undermined the electoral process because he is not interested in a free and fair contest where the outcome reflects the sovereign will of the people.
“He wants an elaborate coronation dressed in the garb of an election. The Nigerian people are too smart for this rude trick.”
Mr. Tinubu further described the postponement as a smokescreen, noting that the letter written by the Service Chiefs advising a shift by six weeks is instance subject to the amelioration of the security situation in the North East.
“This is coming from a Chief of Defence staff that vowed to crush the insurgents within four months early last year. A year later, nothing has changed,” said Mr. Tinubu.
“He is now asking Nigerians to believe this government can do in six weeks what it could not do in six years. I ask Nigerians to question why these Service Chiefs decided to launch a major operation a week before the elections?
“What is new about the security situation in the last two weeks that has not been there these past several years? The date and importance of the election was well publicized. Why did they wait till now? They waited because they were given marching orders by the president to delay the elections.
“They have gone on an offensive already. However, the true offensive is not against Boko Haram. It is against the Nigerian people and our democracy.
“If elections could hold in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, why not in Nigeria where only 14 out of 774 council areas are under siege?”
Mr. Tinubu said that the postponement has inflicted a wound on Nigeria’s democracy.
“This postponement may be the prelude to even rasher more authoritarian action by this desperate, inept government. While my party hoped to go into the election and win it that we may offer a new and honest deal to the people. This government continues to feed the people a raw deal,” he said.
“The ambition of one man should not be allowed to affect the destiny of 170 million Nigerians. Nigerians have signalled their desire for change and there is nothing this government can do to erase it.
The former governor also called on APC supporters to remain calm and peaceful even in the face of “this insult to our democracy and common sense.”
“It is inevitable that change shall come and we shall bring it fairly, democratically and peacefully,” Mr. Tinubu said.
“They will attempt more tricks before the six weeks is over. Each time, they will be defeated by the power of our commitment to a new day in a new democratic Nigeria.”