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INEC chairman: Why we had to postpone elections by one week

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MAHMOOD Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says circumstances that led to the postponement of the 2019 general elections were beyond the commission’s control.

Among the major challenges that led to the decision to shift the elections was the fire incidents that took place in three of INEC’s offices in Abia, Plateau, and Anambra states.

Also, there was the challenge of bad weather which forced the commission to rely on “slow-moving long haulage vehicles” to convey materials to locations that could have been more easily done by air.

Yakubu described the fire incidents on INEC’s facilities as challenges “that may well be attempts to sabotage our preparations”.

He said, “in all three cases, serious disruptions were occasioned by the fire, further diverting our attention from regular preparations to recovery from the impact of the incidents.

“Faced with these challenges, we initially thought that we only require a maximum of 24 hours to resolve the logistics issues involved and complete our deployment for the election. This would mean shifting the elections to commence on Sunday 17th February 2019.

“However, given the restriction of movement during elections, that could affect many votes who worship on Sundays.

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“While the Commission was considering the following Monday 18th February 2019 as an option, our LCT Department advised us that it would require 5 -6 days to reconfigure about 180,000 Smart Card Readers earlier programmed to work only on election day Saturday 16th February 2019.

“It is for this reason that the Commission decided to adjust the election dates to Saturday 23rd February 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly elections and a consequential adjustment of Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections to Saturday 9th March 2019.

“Some sensitive materials have been distributed. However, all such materials have been retrieved and will be taken back to the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria. I want to assure you that there will be a proper audit to account for all materials.”

Yakubu said INEC has redrafted its plan of action to enable it effectively carry out the election on the new date – February 23, 2019. The plan is as follows:

1. Monday, February 18, 2019 – Completion/confirmation of deployment of materials.

2. Sunday 17 to Thursday, February 21, 2019 – Configuration of the Smart Card Readers 

3. Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 February 2019 – Receipt and Deployment of sensitive  materials to LGAs 

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4. Thursday, February 21, 2019 – Refresher training for ad hoc staff 

5. Friday, February 22, 2019 – Deployment of personnel to RACs 

6. Saturday, February 23, 2019 – Election Day.

While calling for the understanding of Nigerians, Yakubu reiterated INEC’s commitment to delivering a free, fair and credible election.

“As Chairman of INEC, and on behalf of the Commission, we take full responsibility for what happened and we regret any inconvenience our decision might have caused,” he said.

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