Failed plans to stagger polls caused postponement, says Wike
Don’t blame APC for shifting polls, Okorocha insists
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday alleged that refusal of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withhold and stager elections in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and Kwara states caused the postponement of the polls.He explained that contrary to the excuses being given members of the public, he has it on good authority that Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmoos Yakubu, was pressured by the Federal Government to postpone the election when efforts to stagger the election in those states failed.
Sensing that it was going to lose the elections if they held on February 16, 2019, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government ordered INEC to set in motion the process to staggering the exercise by withholding elections in Rivers and other strategic states like Akwa Ibom, Lagos and Kwara to some other dates.
“Resistance by Chairman of INEC and international observers to the directive and the ensuing confusion affectively clogged INEC’s preparations, especially in the timely distribution of election materials to local government areas across the country,” he stated.He said in Rivers, the Federal Government deliberately refused to allow the election materials already in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to be distributed to the 23 local government areas on the excuse that some APC members were demonstrating at the state’s INEC office.
Wike appreciated the international community and country missions, whose spontaneous outrage truncated the original plans to isolate and prevent Rivers State from participating in the elections with the other states of the country.
However, irrespective of the postponement of elections Wike declared that Nigerians were more determined to vote out President Muhammadu Buhari. He stated this as a special guest at the Living Faith Church in Port Harcourt yesterday, insisting that the postponement will rather re-energise Nigerians to use their votes to pave way for a better nation.
Meanwhile, Imo State Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha, has charged Nigerians to show patriotism in the face of the inconveniences caused by postponement of the polls.
Okorocha, who is also Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, made the call in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemedo, yesterday and appealed that the APC or any other political party should not be blamed for the development. The governor, who is contesting Imo West Senatorial district, said although the postponement was unfortunate and regrettable, INEC should also be encouraged to overcome its challenges in efforts to conduct free, fair and credible elections.