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INEC, Parties Meet Saturday to Take Final Decision on Election Dates

Attahiru Jega

APC condemns call for Jega’s sack
Chuks Okocha and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will today meet with the 36 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and the political parties as part of consultations to enable the commission take a decision on whether to retain the dates for the general election or pick new dates.

Also, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe friday in Abuja absolved President Goodluck Jonathan of allegations of pressuring the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega to shift the dates of the general election.

Jega had as part of the consultation directed by the National Council of State, met with all national commissioners Thursday night and Friday morning.

A statement by Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, said Jega was invited to the NCS meeting where he made presentations on the “Preparations for the 2015 General Elections: Progress Report” and that the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Armed Services Chiefs also briefed the Council on the current security situation.

Idowu said: “As a follow-up to that meeting, the commission has scheduled a consultative meeting with chairmen and secretaries of all registered political parties, as well as a meeting with the RECs today, February 7, 2015.
“Thereafter, the Commission will address a press conference to brief the nation on its decision with regard to whether or not the general elections will hold as currently scheduled.

Okupe absolves Jonathan…
Okupe at a press conference in Abuja said that it had become necessary to correct “some wrong information” in the media concerning the outcome of the NCS meeting held at the Presidential Villa friday.

He said that President Goodluck Jonathan was not interested, “neither is he engaged in in any form of subterfuge to pressurise INEC to change the dates of the 2015 election.”

Said Okupe: “The President, like many governors and citizens of Nigeria is concerned about the state of preparedness of INEC for the 2015 elections, especially as it concerns the guarantee of the rights of every Nigerian citizen who has fulfilled the conditions for INEC’s voter registration and may still be disenfranchised from the process of voting at the general election.

“The President is concerned about the security situation and the danger that the current war against terrorists in some parts of the country may impose on the conduct of elections in the affected areas. He is concerned about the impact of the situation above on the overall credibility of the elections.

“Secondly, I wish to state categorically here that at no time during the entire seven-hour meeting did the INEC Chairman insist that the elections must hold on the February 14th and 28th as published by some electronic/print media. Rather, Jega gave the council a report on the progress so far made by the INEC on its preparedness for the elections.

“In all its submissions the only process that was 100% concluded was the preparation and availability of the voter register.
“All other processes including provision, distribution and collection of PVCs, printing of ballot papers, distribution of verification machines and other non-sensitive materials, recruitment and training of ad-hoc Staff were as at 5th Feb 2015 all “works in progress”; with some assurance that all will be ready on or before 14th of Feb 2015.”

Okupe further said that the INEC Chairman also mentioned clearly that given a little more time, the commission would be in a better position to perfect these processes and its readiness for the 2015 elections.

Also, Okupe said that Jega in his presentation to the council stated clearly that for the electoral process to be free, fair, and credible there were other matters which were not under the control of INEC, principal among which was the issue of security of lives and properties.

Okupe also said that the security chiefs were unanimous in their advice to the council that it would be impossible for now for them to guarantee security of electoral materials, INEC Staff, and the voting population in the areas currently engulfed by insurgency.

The Presidential aide said: “Some opinions were therefore proffered that elections may be allowed to hold on the 14thFeb in the 32 states not affected by the current war against terrorism; while local elections may thereafter hold in those areas after the security situation would have improved.”

Okupe said that the President made it clear that he could not in good conscience endorse an electoral arrangement where people from a section of the country would be excluded from the electoral process, due to no fault of theirs, or by virtue of just being unfortunate residents of an area under siege of terrorism.

“According to Mr. President, this situation will tend to confirm the deliberate falsehood already being propagated in some parts of the country that he was encouraging the war in the North-east to ensure that voters in the APC states of the North-east were not allowed to vote in the 2015 elections.

“The final conclusion was that INEC should in view of the several submissions made in the council, by former presidents, governors and the security agencies, go and consult further after which they should communicate their decisions to the Nigerians on the suitability or otherwise of the February 14th and 28th dates.”

Call for Arrest of Jega Provocative, Says APC…
The All Progressives Congress friday described the call by the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly for the postponement of the elections and the arrest of Jega as very provocative.

The party said the move was one of the new antics of the election postponement campaigners.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said that in spite of the commendable and patriot decision by the National Council of State that the 2015 general elections must go on as scheduled, proponents of election shift have not given up on their desperation to scuttle the elections.

”It is shameful that those who should be working hard to promote peaceful elections as scheduled are the same ones doing everything possible to trigger violence. Those who should ordinarily be seen as elder statesmen have degenerated to dangerous partisans and shameless promoters of a narrow, parochial interest, at the expense of the national interest,” said Mohammed.

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