Pulse Opinion: INEC's postponement of Nigeria's general elections is an international embarrassment

By postponing the election on the morning of the vote, INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu turned Nigeria into a huge joke.

INEC Chairman Yakub Mahmood postpones Nigeria's vote with no apologies to voters (The Nation)

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, announced the postponement of Nigeria’s general elections with no apologies whatsoever to voters and the general public-- some of whom had travelled several kilometers just so they could vote.

"Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the Commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible”, Yakubu said.

It is instructive to note that Yakubu offered no apologies to voters for the inconvenience the shift would now cost them, in his five paragraph statement.

None whatsoever.

Actually, the INEC boss must have been smug with his action because he's actually not done anything new or unprecedented. In 2011, voters were already casting their ballots for their preferred legislative candidates when the vote was postponed for another two days. 

In 2015, then INEC boss Attahiru Jega shifted the February 14 presidential election by six more weeks after security agencies prevailed on him to do so. 

From what I hear, election materials didn’t arrive polling units on time because some aircraft that was supposed to fly them to the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had problems taking off. When voting materials eventually arrived the CBN, it was too late for the trucks to transport them to some difficult to reach areas round the country in record time.

Which was why when INEC boss Yakubu summoned an emergency meeting with his commissioners shortly before midnight, there was only one agenda on the table: postpone the vote and damn the consequences. 

But INEC has no excuses, really, because logistical challenges could have been sorted out and averted long before the eve of the election. To wobble and fumble into election morning throws up INEC as tardy, disorganized, insensitive and tacky, especially because they had a N189b budget to draw from.

It’s also sad to hear that members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who were drafted into the election as ad hoc staff, were shabbily treated and that most of them slept on the floor of buses and in dingy parking lots as they awaited duty on election morning.

Yakubu kept telling anyone who cared to listen that his commission was ready to deliver Nigeria's sixth election since the country's return to democracy in 1999. In the end, his words were nothing more than just mere words.

INEC’s insensitive and unconscionable postponement will negatively impact businesses, mess up people’s personal lives and leave a hole in the economy. 

Yakubu and his team could have done better because they had four or three years to get this sorted out as squeaky clean as possible. 

INEC staff failed at their jobs and made a mockery of their nation before the international community. They let themselves and their country down.

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