THE All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be more open to Nigerians ahead of the rescheduled general elections.
It urged INEC to brief the nation daily on their challenges and steps being taken to address them.
The party’s Director of Election Planning and Monitoring and Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola told a news conference that INEC should have had a better logistics arrangement ahead of the elections, adding that Nigeria have abundant logistics personnel that the commission could tap from with the right mobilisation.
He also said the commission should tell the nation what logistics challenges it had with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that led to the shift in election and what steps they are putting in place to address those challenges.
According to him, there were indications that some people, especially in the opposition, were privy to the postponement of the elections.
He said: “Elections and political parties are primarily about people. In this episode, millions of Nigerians have sacrificed their time, resources and convenience to perform this national civic duty only to be disappointed by the postponement.
“As a party, our disappointment is doubled due to the fact that unlike some, who were apparently privy to this postponement in advance, we found out alongside the public a few hours before the polls opened.
“To the stranded youth corps members, we empathise with you. To the voters and volunteers, who have travelled at great cost to cast their votes, we empathise with you. To party agents and our party faithful, we empathise with you.
“Our sympathies go to all those people and we urge them not to despair. However, we Nigerians are a determined and resilient people and we will not let the shortcomings of INEC deter us from exercising our franchise.
“Therefore, we ask you all to stay calm, stay determined and come out en masse on February 23rd to vote for APC, President Muhammadu Buhari and all APC senators and House of Representative candidates. We urge all Nigerians to convert their disappointment to determination and ensure that their previous sacrifice does not go to waste.
“As a result of the common pain shared by us all, we, the Directorate of Election Planning and Monitoring, and Contact and Mobilisation, on behalf of APC Campaign Council, demand greater openness and transparency in the commission’s preparations ahead of Saturday February 23, 2019.
“We believe that members of the public should know what steps INEC have taken with CBN to assess, take inventory of materials and brief the public about what their condition is; status of INEC’s plans to procure and provide materials for election and in particular let Nigerians know if all materials required are in country and if not, what plans the commission has to ensure that they are.
“INEC’s plans to re-deploy and distribute materials ahead of Saturday February 23, 2019. The specific problems INEC encountered in the failed attempt of Saturday February 16, 2019 and measures it has taken to overcome them?
“What transport logistics and further materials INEC require in terms of vehicles, boats, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, manpower and funding INEC requires to execute the elections of February 23rd and March 9th.
“Confirmation that the configuration of the card readers will be completed in readiness of Saturday 23rd 2019. In addition to all of these, we believe that INEC should brief Nigerians daily on an ongoing basis until this process is concluded. This is one way to elicit the buy-in of Nigerians that INEC is serious and this will replace disappointment with enthusiasm.
“As President Buhari has urged that ‘Nigerians should continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment’, INEC has the duty to now make its processes open, believable and inspiring. This is what Nigerians can and will rally round. This is the road to free and fair elections, which is a victory for Nigeria and not for any party.”
Responding to questions, Fashola dismissed allegations that the party was planning for staggered elections and therefore engineered the postponement, adding that such an allegation was irresponsible as the party was not interested in any staggered elections.
He said: “That APC is preparing for staggered elections is not a responsible and credible allegation to make. APC does not conduct elections. We go by the rules as set by the umpire and they have not announced staggered elections and so, we are prepared for one election and that is the Presidential and National Assembly elections and the governorship and state assembly elections.”
He said he will not be drawn into saying what the party will do if the elections fail to hold again on Saturday saying “I won’t predict what I will do until that eventuality comes. We think that INEC is peopled by responsible people. The leadership of INEC has said that they need one week and I will take them by their words and that is why I am saying that if they want to be taken seriously, they should up their process.”
He said it was clear from social media reports that the PDP was privy to the postponement of the election, even before it was announced.