- All polls must hold as scheduled, Tambuwal insists
By Ahmed Abubakar
The Chairman of Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has expressed fear that elections may eventually not hold in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states if the attacks on Permanent Voter Card (PVCs) centres are sustained by the insurgents.
But the Speaker of the House of Representatives and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has reaffirmed that the 2015 general elections must be held in February as scheduled by INEC.
Speaking yesterday at the Transcorp Hotel in Abuja at a Forum organised by the African Policy Research Institute, Jega stressed that unless there is a significant improvement in the security situation in the North-East, the February elections may eventually not hold in the areas.
According to Jega, “A place like Borno state that is being ravaged by insurgents, and unless something drastically is being done to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) there even return for the state governorship may be difficult, if not impossible under the circumstances.
“To be realistic, we must say that it may be impossible to conduct elections everywhere, in every local government, in every constituency in those three insurgency affected states”, he said.
Professor Jega noted that INEC is working assiduously hard to limit the number of Nigerians that may suffer as a result of being disenfranchised due to the attacks by insurgents.
He said that the commission has made alternative plans for the victims of the insurgents attacks otherwise referred to as the IDPs so that they would be provided with avenues to also vote at specially designated areas.
“As a result of the so many IDPs, our emphasis is going to be on the North-eastern states where we would pay adequate attention to the displaced Nigerians there,” he said.
In an earlier interview monitored on a national television in Abuja, the INEC chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kayode Idowu reaffirmed that the commission had always expressed its readiness to conduct elections in all states of the federation, including the three states ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.
He, however, said the commission was optimistic that the security challenges in the three states would be appropriately handled by the security forces for elections to hold there.
He said: “The commission’s position has always been that the security of every staff to be deployed, either adhoc or permanent, has to be guaranteed by the security agencies and that is why the commission has always said that it will work in close collaboration with the security agencies to make sure that for it to deploy its staff to these areas, the security agencies will have to be on top of the game.”
For his part, Tambuwal said yesterday on the Hausa Service of the BBC monitored in Jos that following the call by some stakeholders on INEC to postpone the 2015 election to pave way for a transition government, there was no going back on the conduct of February elections.
He noted that no section of the Nigerian constitution permits the postponement of an election on selfish ground and therefore it would not be postponed.
He alleged that, ‘the ruling PDP is afraid of the contest knowing well that the opposition APC would win the general elections. “The government of the day has failed woefully in the administering the affairs of the country. So there is no provision for a transition government in the Nigerian constitution. Elections must be conducted, ” he said.