Disappointment, anger and suspicion trailed the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections which ought to have been ongoing this Saturday. Many eligible voters who had traveled from other parts of the country to be part of today’s election also expressed dilemma and frustration over the sudden shift of the election to February 23 and March 9 for the governorship and house of assembly polls.
The news of the postponement did however not get to many as some persons were sighted at some polling areas to come and vote. At the Garrick Memorial Secondary School field along Ekehuan Road, Benin-City which is usually a place to watch at every election, the vast field hosted youths playing football. Some eligible voters however showed up to vote. One of them, an elderly woman who refused to give her name, was somehow confused when she noticed lack of activities in the hitherto ever busy polling arena. She asked the magazine if the election had ended and was told that it had been postponed. She claimed not to have heard the news because there had been no light in her area which was just a walking distance from the polling station.
Reacting to the postponement, she said “we thank God now. Any time they are ready, I will still come. I thought people had voted and gone because they told us that as you vote, you go away”.
Captain Hosa Okunbo, a multi-billionaire business mogul who came into town earlier in the week to participate in the election, wouldn’t cry over spilled milk. Okunbo, who told the magazine earlier today he was traveling out to be back towards the end of next week, said about the postponement “it’s okay; they need to be ready. They want
Orobosa Adetokunbo Ero, a pastor based in Yola, Adamawa State, is one Nigerian who felt utterly disappointed and indeed in a dilemma over the postponement of the election. Ero, who had traveled all the way from Yola to vote in Benin where he registered, expressed anger at the ugly development. He told the magazine that “I feel very sad because I was really hoping to vote and get it over with especially in this first set of elections but now, I am kind of confused whether I want to wait another one week, having to leave all the things I have over there. “Considering the time wasted, the cost, the stress; everything put together makes it more frustrating”.
Ero believed there was no justification whatsoever for the postponement and accused INEC and government of the day of insensitivity to the sensibilities of Nigerians in taking the decision. According to him, “all the monies that had been given to INEC, how much time that they had to plan, especially compared to other parts of the world, it just shows gross lack of competence. And of course, there could be other factors involved too as some Nigerians are suspecting, like probably working towards a predetermined outcome. But competence is always usually there when you don’t do things the way you ought to. You don’t consider how your decisions and conduct affect other people. I think it’s a fusion of both but there is definitely a lack of competence. It’s very sad, but I think we’ve passed that level when competence should be an issue in this country”.
In his reaction, former National Chairman of APC, John Odigie-Oyegun said he would reserve his comments until INEC comes up with a real reason for the shift. Odigie-Oyegun said operational difficulties cited by INEC was too general, noting that “it is like an airline saying it cancelled a flight due to operational hitches which is general. It is when they come up with the real reason that passengers will begin to react. So, let INEC come up with the specifics for us to react appropriately”.
Dan Osi Orbih, Edo State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, described the shift as a monumental failure on the part of INEC which, according to him, could not, after four years of preparation, conduct an election. Orbih said “this is a manifestation of failure. Those who postponed the election can only run but can’t hide as dooms day awaits them. It is a pity that most people find it difficult to meet up with their responsibilities because of bad governance. So, it is time to kick them out”.
Also reacting, Edo State Chairman of APC, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, said he felt disappointed at first that all efforts put in place and all expectations for the polls to hold today, came to nothing.
He believed the postponement came too late, adding that it should have come two days to election day.
His APC counterpart, Anselm Ojezua noted this was not the first time election was being shifted. He recalled that during the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, election was postponed even when voting was ongoing in some parts of the country. Ojezua blamed the whole mix-up on INEC vendors who allegedly wrongly labeled election materials meant for certain states causing the mix-up during distribution. “Of course, at that stage, there is no way you can recall materials already dispatched, and at the same time, allow elections to go on. The best bet would have been to postpone which INEC did”, he said.
However, former governorship aspirant on the platforms of both the PDP and APC, Kenneth Imansuangbon, described the shift as a show of shame on the part of the ruling party using INEC to carry out such obnoxious act. Imansuangbon who called on Nigerians to be steadfast in the quest to root out the ruling APC and rescue the country from retrogressive and anti-democratic elements further urged the people to stand their grounds to ensure victory. “They cannot postpone the evil days. If they like, let them postpone the election 100 times, defeat awaits them” he posited.