Home News Election blues; the politics of a nocturnal postponement. – Steve Ovirih.

Election blues; the politics of a nocturnal postponement. – Steve Ovirih.

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Shakespeare says there is no art to see through the underbelly of what lies deep down in the heart ( emphasis mine). The bard was damn right about this. The heart of man is a dark closet well hidden away from prying eyes, so nobody gets to know what a heart conjectures until the deal is done.
And so it was that Nigeria prepared very well for a master stroke election , so we all thought , until by a sleight of hand all hopes and expectation of an electoral process got dashed by no other but the election umpire himself, Prof Mahmud Yakubu The rude shock of a postponement nobody least expected. Yet it came not even in the day time, perhaps, another proactive step to forestall chaos by would have been aggrieved protesters. In the dead of night around 2. am , the news wafted out of INEC headquarters: the much awaited election has been shifted by a week due to logistic challenges. Just that and just like that, no apology !
Rewind to a week before the aborted “D day”, on a popular TV personality interview; there sat a self confident INEC chair who stated with assured emphasis , ” INEC does not envisage a postponement to the February 16th national election as all logistics have been adequately taken care of.” This was vintage Prof Mahmud Yakubu giving assurances in a response to the anchor person’s attempt to cast a doubt on INEC’s preparedness for the poll. Now , who will listen to this cocksure emphasis and would not woke up this morning with a feeling of disgust for this election body?
Are we being taken for a ride? Is INEC acting a well hidden script? Can this umpire be trusted? So many questions begging for answers.
It might interest INEC to know that the Presidency had distanced itself from the operations of this electoral body so that its independence will be seen as total and overwhelming.
However, the blues of the postponement has brought in its wake accusation and counter accusation by both PDP and APC alike, each accusing the other of the subtle partisan support of the election body.
In the build up to the botched February 16th election ( so it seems now, botched!) political parties traversed the length and breadth of the country canvassing for votes. One can easily recall the glamorous effort of the two leading political parties , APC and PDP in this regard. Both pulled crowd, both spent money and both reached out to the Patrician and plebeians alike and just when candidates Buhari and Atiku had returned amidst fanfare to their country homes of Daura and Yola respectively with the hope of voting and being voted for the next day, INEC dashed the hope – no election yet!
It goes without saying that the decision of the electoral body is an attempt to insult the sensibility of Nigerians, truth be told. And one can understand the outburst of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomole at the stakeholders meeting which held the next day at Abuja. Oshiomole demanded an apology from INEC because the electoral body felt no scruples about the skewed postponement. Was INEC right to have postponed an election it had earlier claim was seriously prepared for?
It has been argued in different quarters that election had been postponed in the time past, 2015 by two weeks at the prodding of the federal government over insecurity challenge in the northeast; 2011 even as the voting process was going on and now 2019 on the midnight preceding the election. All these make us cut across as sloppy people who do not have details of the nuances of election management. As an election body, there should be improvement on past effort and not making two steps forward and eight steps backwards. Considering INEC’s huge budget profile , the speed with which National Assembly approved their proposal and the independence granted this body by the executive, one would continue to feel scandalised by the excuse given for the postponement.
Let us put the blues of the postponement in perspective: millions of voters who felt enamoured to express their franchise had travelled to their various polling units in perhaps their diverse country homes; will they be so encouraged to take the same trip the coming weekend? If they don’t, sloppiness of INEC disenfranchised them. Political parties spent millions mobilising agents across the over one hundred and seventy five thousand polling units in the country; they will have to do that again this weekend on whose expense?
Now, the two major contending parties Apc and PDP are already pointing accusing fingers at each other , claiming INEC is doing the bidding of either of the party. The onus is on the independent national electoral commission to clear the air and make sure this blues of disappointment doesn’t not extend to the new date February 23rd.
The world is watching, political parties are scheming , thus INEC can’t afford to be sloppy again. The only thing that will clear the allegation of high handedness against the Yakubu led INEC is a free and fair credible election that is devoid of political moves to favour any of the contending parties.
Right now , the job of the election umpire is not an enviable one.

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