President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections billed for Saturday, 16 February 2019, saying he was “deeply disappointed” by the move.
The Independent National Electoral Commission announced the shocking decision early Saturday, just hours before the opening of the polls, after repeatedly assuring Nigerians and international observers it was ready for the crucial elections.
The electoral body blamed logistics problems but did not give details.
Many Nigerians have condemned the postponement, especially its timing, and have accused the commission of insensitivity, noting that INEC had not apologised for the inconvenience its decision had caused millions of people.
In a statement Saturday, Mr Buhari appealed to Nigerians to “refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development”.
Read his statement below:
I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.
Many Nigerians have travelled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.
INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.
This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.
We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.
I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.
Daura, February 16, 2019