President Muhammadu in Daura, Katsina State, has said he is disappointed by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s decision to postpone the presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled for today, February 16, by one week.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, announced the postponement early on Saturday morning.
Buhari regretted that despite INEC’s assurances that it was ready, the long notice given, preparations both local and international, and the fact that many Nigerians had travelled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers were gathered, the commission postponed the elections using logistics as an excuse.
The president reaffirmed his commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process. He, however, urged all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at what he described as “this trying moment in our democratic journey.”
President Buhari also charged INEC to ensure that the materials were not already distributed safe but that they did not get into the wrong hands. He added that the body must do everything to avoid the lapses that resulted in the unfortunate postponement in the first place.
President Buhari 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 travelled 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 were 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.
“We now urge INEC to ensure not only that the 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 derails 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.”