President Muhammadu Buhari says he is “deeply disappointed” in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for postponing the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled to hold on Saturday.
Announcing the postponement at some minutes before 3am on Saturday, a few hours before the presidential and National Assembly elections were scheduled to begin, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said: “The Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.”
However, Buhari expressed sadness at the development, stating that the commission had enough notice to prepare.
In a statement issued on Saturday in Daura, the President’s hometown, where he had gone to cast his vote, he said: “I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.
“Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.
“INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.
“This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.”
He, however, urged the electoral umpire to ensure that the postponement is worth it, and that the process is run smoothly for free, fair and credible elections.
He continued: “We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
“I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.
“I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.”