More Nigerians have continued to react to Saturday’s postponement of the general elections, with many condemning the development and expressing fears over likelihood of apathy among the electorate.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23.
The Governorship and House of Assembly as well as FCT area council elections have also been shifted from March 2 to March 9.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, confirmed NAN report of the shift of the elections, attributing this to logistic and operational problems.
Many of the respondents told NAN in separate interviews that the postponement was unfortunate and had already resulted in colossal loss for the country.
Some, however, called for support for INEC to be able to conduct credible rescheduled elections
The National Association of the Nigerian Students (NAN), condemned the postponement, describing the action as “wasteful.’’
The spokesperson of the association, Azeez Adeyemi, said at “no time in the history of elections in Nigeria have the youths ever been this enthusiastic to participate in such process.’’
The All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for Ogun West Senatorial seat in the 2019 polls, Chief Tolu Odebiyi, also condemned the postponement, saying that it had negative financial implications on him and other candidates.
Odebiyi, who is the immediate past Secretary to the Ogun Government, noted that he had put a lot of efforts into mobilisation of his supporters and regrets that all had been in vain.
He also expressed concern over the aspersions that the development would cast on the image of the nation.
Odebiyi said that INEC needed to explain the reasons for the postponement in clear terms to Nigerians, particularly the electorate, who had been in high spirits and have demonstrated great zeal to exercise their civic rights.
Mr Olulope Taiwo, the Chief Press Secretary to the Ogun Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (NAN), also described the postponement as a setback for Nigeria.
“The postponement in itself is a bad development but the time it was communicated to Nigerians made it worse.
”It is like postponing a wedding ceremony on the day of the wedding.
“INEC ought to have announced the postponement at least 48/hours to the elections,” he said.
He, however, appealed to the electorate to remain calm in spite of the development, adding that “Nigerians have to still believe in INEC despite the disappointment.’’
A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos, Dr Tunde Bello, told NAN that the postponement was not healthy for Nigeria’s democracy.
Bello expressed concern that Nigeria lost a great opportunity of demonstrating to the world that its democracy had deepened and was now well stabilised.
He noted that the development could dampen the morale of many Nigerians and lead to apathy in the electoral process.
The lecturer, who said all hope was not lost, called on INEC to reach out to the political parties and other critical stakeholders with genuine explanations.
In Ijebu-Ode, Ogun, many residents expressed their displeasure at the postponement.
A NAN correspondent, who went around the town as early as 7.00am, sighted residents discussing the developments.
The motor-parks, however, were mostly deserted despite noticeable vehicular movement across the town.
A political analyst and university lecturer, Dr Tolani Hassan described the cancellation as “a disgrace to democracy and sad development.”
Hassan, an economist and senior lecturer at the College of Management and Social Sciences, Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), added that he was highly disappointed.
“ The same same incident occurred in 2015 and we taught we have gone past that level.
“So it’s a shame as this just looks like we are still going round in circles and have not learnt from previous mistakes,” Hassan said.
He added that the economic implication of the cancellation is another factor to consider as well as the psychology effect on stakeholders.
Another respondent and football coach, Segun Badejo, said the postponement was not justified considering some people had to travel down to their areas of registration for the sake of the elections.
“People are really devastated and are not happy. It doesn’t portray the country in good light in anyway.
“I was at Abeokuta yesterday and personally witnessed the arrival of both local and foreign observers who came to Ogun for the task of the elections.
“We have been in democracy for years and one would expect us to have got basic things such as conducting credible elections right,” Badejo said.
“Our democracy is still growing so we shouldn’t feel too downcast about it but I also expect a positive reaction when the election holds next Saturday,” Alausa said.
When NAN contacted INEC office in Ijebu-Ode Local Government, the Assistant Electoral Officer, Mr Olumide Adegbesan, said that logistics and personnel initially deployed were being recalled.
“All our personnel and materials are safe and are being escorted back here. We are waiting for further directives from the headquarters,” he said.
Meanwhile, there have been vehicular movements on the highways and major roads across the state following the announcement.
Residents were sighted gathering at major news stands and discussing the development.
Dr Michael Oke, a senior leçturer at the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, described the postponement as annoying and a huge disappointment to the whole country.
” This postponement, though not the first in Nigeria, came at the eleventh hour.
“It is going to have negative effect when the elections are held because people are already discouraged,” he said.
Oke added that Nigeria’s confidence in the system had been drastically defeated.
Similarly, Mr Sunday Bamidele, a sociologist, expressed surprise at the postponement of the elections and called for better preparations by INEC to forestall a similar scenario in the future.
He said that the postponement due to logistics problem, as claimed by the INEC Chairman, was “ still a slap on the face of Nigeria.’’
“Imagine how we will be looked upon by other countries and observers. With the time and huge amount spent on preparations, INEC should have prepared better so that this type of scenario will not have occurred,” he said.