Doyin Okupe says Jonathan is not interested in pressurizing INEC to change election dates

February 7, 2015 3:21 am
For the avoidance of doubt, Nigerians are hereby
re-assured that there has never been, and never shall be any plan to
cancel the 2015 elections, for any reasons whatsoever. It will not
happen, and the May 29th date for the swearing-in is sacrosanct. All
talks about interim government arrangement is pure fiction.

The
consideration behind the possibility of change of date is to allow those
who may be disfranchised from voting on the 14th February to have an
opportunity to exercise their lawful rights to vote and participate in
the general elections.

Text from a press conference held by Presidential aide, Dr. Doyin
Okupe in Abuja this evening

It has become necessary to address this Press conference to correct
some wrong information in the Mass Media concerning the outcome of the
Council of State meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa
yesterday.

Firstly, is not
interested, neither is he engaged in in any form of subterfuge to
pressurize to change the dates of the 2015 Elections.

The
President, like many Governors and Citizens of is concerned
about the State of preparedness of INEC for the 2015 Elections
;especially as it concerns the guarantee of the rights of every Nigerian
Citizen who has fulfilled the conditions for INEC’s Voter registration ,
and may still be disenfranchised from the Process of Voting at the
General elections.

The Security situation and the danger that the
current war against insurgency in some parts of the country may impose
on the conduct of elections in the Affected areas

The impact of the situation above on the overall credibility of the 2015 elections.

Secondly , I wish to state categorically here that at no time during
the entire 7 hour meeting did the INEC Chairman , Prof Attahiru Jega
insist that the elections must hold on the Feb 14th and 28th 2015 as
published by some Electronic / Print Media. Rather Professor Jega gave
the Council a report on the Progress so far made by the INEC on its
preparedness for the 2015 elections.

In all its submissions the only process that was 100% concluded was the preparation and availability of the Voters Register.

All other processes including Provision, distribution and collection of
PVC’s, printing of ballot papers, distribution of Verification machines
and other non –sensitive materials , recruitment and training of ad hoc
Staff were as at 5th Feb 2015 all “Works in progress”; with some
assurance that all will be ready on or before 14th of Feb 2015.

The Chairman also mentioned clearly that given a little more time INEC
would be in a better position to perfect these processes and its
readiness for the 2015 Elections.

Also in his Presentations to
the Council the INEC Chairman, stated clearly that for the electoral
process to be free, fair , and credible there are other matters which
were not under the control of INEC principal among which is the issue of
provision and guarantee of Security of Lives and Properties.

The
Security Chiefs were unanimous in their advice to the Council that it
will be impossible for now for them to guarantee security of electoral
materials, INEC Staff, and the voting population in the areas currently
engulfed by the War against Insurgency.

Some opinions were
therefore proffered that elections may be allowed to hold on the 14th
Feb in the 32 states not affected by the current War against terrorism;
while local elections may thereafter hold in those areas after the
security situation would have improved.

The President made it
clear that he cannot in good conscience endorse an electoral arrangement
where people from a section of the Country would be excluded from the
Electoral process, due to no fault of theirs, or by virtue of just being
unfortunate residents of an area under siege of terrorism.
According to Mr President, this situation will tend to confirm the
deliberate falsehood already being propagated in some parts of the
Country that he was encouraging the war in the North East to ensure that
voters in the APC states of the North East were not allowed to vote in
the 2015 elections.

The final conclusion was that INEC should in
view of the several submissions made in the Council, by the Former
Presidents, State Governors and the Security Agencies, go and consult
further after which they should communicate their decisions to the
Nigerian People on the suitability or otherwise of the February 14th and
28th dates.

For the avoidance of doubt, Nigerians are hereby
re-assured that there has never been, and never shall be any plan to
cancel the 2015 elections, for any reasons whatsoever. It will not
happen, and the May 29th date for the swearing-in is sacrosanct. All
talks about interim government arrangement is pure fiction.

The
consideration behind the possibility of change of date is to allow those
who may be disfranchised from voting on the 14th February to have an
opportunity to exercise their lawful rights to vote and participate in
the general elections.

The new wave of successes being recorded
by the Military in the War against insurgency, especially with the
arrival of new effective combatant equipment and machinery, plus the
newly revamped cross border co-operation with Niger, Chad and
Cameroonian Military, offer a very genuine hope that in a very short
while, the situation in the affected states will be brought under such
reasonable control that will guarantee safety of the electoral process
and electorates in the war front region of the North –East at a no
distant future.

We repeat that the only set of people who stand
to benefit from a shift in election dates are Nigerians who desire to
vote and have not been able to collect their Permanent Voters Cards
(PVCs) and other innocent citizens living in the war zone who may not be
able to vote on the 14th February. We also wish to recollect that in
2003, 2007, and 2011 the elections were held in April, and the hand over
date was not affected.

We therefore challenge the opposition to
tell Nigerians in clear terms, what dangers the change of date from
February 14th portends to the electoral process or to the Nigerian
electorates. It will also be good if the opposition tells us who stands
to benefit or be disadvantaged from any shifting of date and how.

This administration remains committed to a transparent, credible all
inclusive free and fair elections,
and will ensure that it employs all
powers available to it to guarantee that this happens without any
infringement on our sacred constitutional provisions.

Thank You
Dr
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs

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