The United States Embassy in Nigeria has thrown its weight behind international election observers on the postponement of last Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections in the country. In a statement made available to New Telegraph, the U.S. Embassy said it fully supports the joint statement by the heads of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other international election observation missions on the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shelve the polls by one week.
“We join in encouraging all Nigerians to ensure a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election by supporting INEC while it finalizes electoral preparations this week and by voting in peace together on February 23,”the statement read. The heads of the international election observation missions and the United Nations in Nigeria had, on Saturday, appealed for calm over the sudden postponement of the general elections in Nigeria by one week due to logistic and operational challenges.
The international observers drawn from the European Union, Commonwealth, African Union and ECOWAS, amongst others, said they would continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in their desire for credible and peaceful elections and would continue to closely observe preparations for the rescheduled polls across the country, “We have taken note of the decision of INEC to postpone the 2019 general elections due to logistical and operational challenges. “While we note that this decision has caused disappointment for many, we call on all Nigerians to continue to remain calm and supportive of the electoral process as INEC works to implement its new timeline.
“We urge INEC to use this time to finalise all preparations and ensure that the new election dates are strictly adhered to. We encourage INEC to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process,” they said.
Other groups that en-dorsed the joint solidarity message include the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa Election Observation Mission; National Democratic Institute/ International Republican Institute Election Observation Mission; Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as well as the Office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel Region.
Similarly, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has described the postponement of the polls as a bold and courageous decision by the leadership of INEC, saying that the alternative could mess up the electoral process. Acting Executive Director of the CTA, Faith Nwadishi, who addressed a news conference on the development, said that while it was painful and shocking that the elections had to be postponed, Nigerians should rally round INEC at this critical moment instead of castigating it. Nwadishi disclosed that given the facts available to CTA, there were cogent reasons to postpone the elections and the leadership of the Election Management Body acted in good faith. Nwadishi argued that given the reports of sensitive electoral materials not getting to their designated states hours before the elections, INEC could have been compelled to commence the polls in some states while leaving out others in what was meant to be a national election.
“This was why there was a need to take a decision whether to go ahead with the elections in certain states and not go along with the elections in the other states. The other result we would have gotten from such a scenario would have been that you would have elections in about 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory and you would declare the results in those states while you have about 16 states that you will use as deciders for whoever takes the ballot. You’re not sure of what would happen to those 16 states. “We don’t want a repeat of Osun2. A repeat of Osun2 would have been a child’s play compared to whatever we would have seen in the other 16 states. “In some of the states where materials were supposed to go, some of us who were flying found out that there were cancellation of flights and materials that were supposed to go to certain states were taken to other states. “As at Saturday, we had information that members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) who were supposed to even transport some of these materials were recalled. They were asked not to proceed. So that is why we are saying that there is a sabotage in the entire process and we do not and will never support staggered elections in Nigeria where you will have certain states that will be used as deciders. “Let us all go to the polls on the same day,” she said.