Barely five hours before polls were due to open, Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced a shock postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled for Saturday by one week.
Citing unnamed challenges, INEC said the Presidential and National Assembly elections will now take place on Saturday, February 23, 2019 while the governorship, State Houses of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Council polls earlier fixed for March 2 would hold on Saturday, March 9 2019.
INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu announced this in a five-paragraph statement, saying the decision was based due to logistics.
He however failed to name them. He also refused to take questions.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission met on Friday, February 15, 2019, and reviewed its preparations for the 2019 General Elections scheduled for Saturday, February 16 2019 and Saturday, March 2 2019.
“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.
“Consequently, the commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, February 23 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday, March 9 2019. This will afford the commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.
“This was a difficult decision for the commission to take, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.
“The commission will meet key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2pm on Saturday 16 (today) February 2019 at the Abuja International Conference Centre,” Yakubu said.
Nigerians, who had travelled far and wide to vote, would now be shocked when they wake up this morning to this postponement.
INEC had four years to prepare for this election.