YIAGA AFRICA receives with a deep sense of disappointment the news of INEC’s postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections from Saturday, 16th of February to February 23rd 2019 and Governorship/State Assembly elections from Saturday, 2nd March 2019 to March 9, 2019. This postponement is without doubt an indication that the Commission may have overestimated its own capabilities and/or underrated the challenges associated with the management of election logistics.
While the anxiety and anger over the postponement is understandable and expected, we understand that the decision is in the interest of the country. INEC should without any further delay provide detailed information on the nature and degree of the logistical challenges that occasioned the postponement.
This in addition to an elaborate logistical plan for the rescheduled elections and security of the exposed election materials. INEC needs to improve its communication and public engagement to give assurances to Nigerians. The citizenry deserves to be properly informed and reassured that such postponements will not remain a permanent feature of our electoral process.
We urge all Nigerian citizens and registered voters in particular to remain calm and exercise restraint as INEC works towards the new dates. This development is a test of our patriotism and resilience, we therefore urge citizens to keep faith with the process and remain hopeful that the rescheduled elections will meet all standards of credible elections.
We also urge all registered voters to come out massively and vote for the candidates of their choice on the new dates. We encourage all stakeholders to take advantage of this window to provide additional voter education and mobilize the electorate to exercise their franchise.
We also seize this opportunity to ask all political party actors to show understanding and exercise patience. We urge them to stay away from making allegations, spreading rumors and hate speech to avert overheating the polity. We implore our friends and partners from the international community, foreign and fellow domestic observers to show understanding and empathy as Nigeria moves towards the proposed dates for the 2019 elections.
The role of the media in maintaining calm, dowsing suspicion and preventing the spread of fake news cannot be over emphasized. We plead with the press to continue to disseminate messages and information that will bring greater stability to Nigeria. The security agencies should remain vigilant and proactive to diffuse any crises that may emanate as a result of this postponement.
The YIAGA Africa Watching The Vote will continue to provide the most timely and accurate information on the conduct of the 23rd of February, 2019 elections and will give an independent estimate of the officially announced presidential election results. YIAGA Africa reiterates its readiness to deploy its 3,906 observers to all the 774 local government areas in the country, and will continue to ensure that Nigerian elections are conducted in a transparent, credible and peaceful manner.
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Dr. Hussaini Abdu Samson Itodo
Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA