Nigerian Parties Still Divided Over Possible Election Postponement

Political parties in Nigeria are still divided over the need to postpone the 2015 general elections, which has topped talks at meetings between political stakeholders and the electoral body.

Coming out of a consultative meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission on Saturday, some representatives of the different political parties told reporters that they were not satisfied with the explanations put forward by the electoral body for a possible election postponement.

Others are, however, said to have spoken in support of a shift in the date of the elections.

While the Peoples Democratic Party’s deputy national chairman, Uche Secondus, supported a shift in the date of the elections, the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement Bashir Ibrahim, kicked against the call for the postponement of the election.

The opposition All Progressives Congress had also called on the electoral commission to hold the election on the scheduled dates, insisting that a shift in the date will make Nigerians lose confidence in the process.

While the INEC is still holding talks with stakeholders on Saturday there were speculations that the polls scheduled for February 14 and 28 would be postponed by about six weeks.

Although the INEC is yet to make any official announcement about the election postponement, international media organisations are quoting an unnamed Nigerian official as saying that elections will be postponed in order to give the new multinational force time to secure areas under Boko Haram control.

As the meeting between INEC and the parties held, a coalition of civil rights groups staged a protest at the headquarters of the electoral body in Abuja to resist moves for the election postponement.

The leader of the group, Mr Solomon Dalung, said that they heard that the ongoing meeting between the electoral umpire and political party leaders was aimed at announcing INEC’s decision of the postponement of the polls.

The INEC said that the group was only acting on rumour, as there is no such information at the moment.

INEC Asked To Uphold Polls Dates

Today’s meeting is coming two days after the Council of State advised the INEC to go ahead and perform its constitutional responsibility of conducting the 2015 elections.

At the end of the Council’s meeting, the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, told reporters that the INEC had told the council that it was ready for the conduct of the elections.

He said security chiefs also expressed their readiness but raised issues about some local governments currently under the control of the Boko Haram sect.

Before the council of state met, 16 registered political parties and four presidential candidates on Tuesday joined the call for postponement of the forthcoming general elections.

The presidential candidates, including Godson Okoye of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Sam Ekeh of Citizens Popular Party (CPP), Tunde Anifowose Kelani, Action Alliance (AA), and Ganiyu Galadima (ACPN), insisted that the present security situation in the north-east and the untidy manner in which INEC had handled the distribution of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) had triggered the call for the postponement.

They stressed that the level of violence, threat of violence and use of foul languages in political campaigns have been a clear breach of the Abuja Peace Accord which was signed by the 14 presidential candidates.

The political parties and their presidential candidates, who threatened to boycott the election if INEC ignored their request, argued that a credible election could not take place in a country where a geo-political zone would be practically excluded due to insecurity.

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