Nigerians woke up on Saturday morning to news that the elections they had spent the last few months preparing for had been postponed to Saturday, February 23, 2019
In its statement, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cited “operational and logistics issues” for its inability to conduct the elections today. However, in an address to stakeholders in Abuja today, Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu has given details on the postponement.
Addressing journalists and stakeholders, Prof Yakubu stated that the major challenges faced by INEC were delays in delivering ballot papers and result sheets, occasioned in part by flight challenges due to bad weather.
He went further to say, “There have been delays in delivering ballot papers and result sheets for the elections which are not unusual. However, one must emphasise that all the ballot papers and result sheets were ready before the elections despite the very tight legal timeframe for the nomination of candidates and dealing with the spate of legal challenges that accompany it.
“In this regard, the commission has been sued or joined in over 640 court cases arising from the nomination of candidates. As of today, there are 40 different court orders against the commission on whether to add or drop candidates.
“The net effect of these is that there is usually roughly a one-month window for the commission to print ballot papers and result sheets and either fly or transport them to several destinations until they finally get to each polling unit.
“Unfortunately, in the last one week flights within the country have been adversely affected by bad weather. For instance, three days ago, we were unable to deliver materials to some locations due to bad weather.
“We therefore had to rely on slow-moving long haulage vehicles to locations that can be serviced by air in spite of the fact that we created five zonal airport hubs in Abuja (North Central), Port Harcourt (South South and South East). Kano (North West), Maiduguri and Yale (North-East) and Lagos (South-West) to facilitate the delivery of electoral logistics.
“Apart from these logistical challenges, we also faced what may well be attempts to sabotage our preparations. In a space of two weeks, we had to deal with serious fire incidents in three of our offices in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, Qu’an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State and our Anambra State Office at Awka.
“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. In Isiala Ngwa South, hundreds of PVCs were burnt, necessitating the recompiling of the affected cards and reprinting in time to ensure that the affected voters are not disenfranchised. I am glad that all the cards were quickly reprinted and made available for collection by their owners.”
“In Qu’an Pan Local Government Area, our entire office was razed, destroying all the materials prepared for the elections printed register of voters, ballot boxes, voting cubicles and several electricity generating sets. ll Registration Areas and over I00 polling units were affected by the tire. We recovered quickly and have since replaced everything destroyed. In addition, we secured a suitable building from which to conduct the elections.
“Perhaps the most serious was the fire incident in our Anambra State Office at Awka, which destroyed over 4,600 Smart Card Readers being prepared for the elections. These Card Readers take at least six months to procure. Despite this setback, we have practically recovered from this by mopping up every available.