THE much talked about 2015 general election slated for February 15th and 28th has been postponed by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) due to the alleged security challenges in the North Eastern part of the country and the non unreadiness of the military to protect the polls.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) Col Dasuki (rtd) said the military needed six more weeks to make the North East region of the country safe for election, as any attempt to conduct the election in February, the military will not be ready to protect the electorate and INEC staff. This statement led to several meetings starting with that of Council of state made up of past heads of state and presidents of this nation; candidates of political parties; civil society and the likes. After long hours of meetings with various stakeholders to examine the statement of the NSA, INEC Chairman Prof Attaihiru Jega emerged to the waiting hands of both foreign and local media and he addressed a world press conference in Abuja and announced the postponement of the much awaited election by six weeks to create room for the military to have a grip on the troubled region and also allow INEC to get over logistics problems and also, give opportunity for more voters to get their PVC.
The announcement sparked off criticism from the opposition party the All Progressive Congress (APC) accusing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led government of planning to rig the polls using the postponement to strategise that plan. The PDP on its part has refuted the allegation saying free, fair and credible election can only be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere as such the military should be given the benefit of doubt to control the situation in the troubled region.
Nigerians, political analysts and commentators who have being watching with keen interest are equally x-raying the implication of the postponement, the effect on the electorate, the possibility of conducting the election in March and April as well as the ability to conduct free, fair, credible and a successful election. They have also started to take a position on the issue and voicing out their opinion on the development and the future of the nation.
Commenting on the postponement of the election, the former national chairman of the Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Dr Dele Oluwatade said looking at the large number of people besieging INEC state office to collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) without success, he is of the opinion that the postponement is in good faith to allow those who are yet to collect their PVC to do so before the new date for the election.
“The time the national security adviser mentioned the issue of the postponement of the election outside the country, I was perplexed and asked myself what kind of statement is this? I began to ask several questions, his he on is own? Does he have the blessing of the president? Or is it like the case of lying with the issue of cease fire with Boko Haram which was not true and they came to deny later? Nigeria is a very funny country. The rumour gathered momentum and steam until the Council of State meeting and INEC Chairman was advised and the election postponed till March 28th and April 11th “.
Dr Oluwatade said the people’s  suffering, labouring and besieging INEC centres from dawn to dusk to get their PVCs is “surfer patriotism” and as such should not be denied the right to vote. He said just like we have the internally displaced persons (IDPs)  in the North East due to the insurgency in the country, INEC have also succeeded in denying electorate their PVCs thereby creating INEC displaced persons (IDPs) who will not be able to vote. These “INEC denied persons” (IDPs) have registered, but can’t collect their voters card, as such they can’t vote, it is as bad as “internally displaced people” (IDPs).
Continuing, he said media reports had it that about 26 million voters are yet to collect their PVCs and in my opinion the postponement is good for the nation to create more time for all the stakeholders to put finishing touches to their plans. “I call on politicians, political parties and their candidates to sit down and look at the country again and strategise how to help her out of her predicament rather than fighting each other and heating up the political stage which might have negative effects. To me, Nigeria is a sick bride being prepared for a wedding/marriage yet nobody is caring.  Nobody is asking if the bride has the strength, stamina, or power to go through the entire process that the ceremony would last? I am using this analogy because Nigeria is presently in this situation. Our politicians are less concerned about the sick bride (Nigeria) but preparing to marry her at all cost and at any cost.
“Our politicians and leaders are not looking at the structural, financial and political deformity of this nation as reflected by the recently concluded national confab but rather talking about elections. My suggestion is that during this interval while we wait for the election our nation should be helped. Our politicians should begin to look at the nation from another view or perspective. It is not enough to becoming a leader of this sick nation but bringing her to good health to have a wonderful wedding programme. Postponing the election is the first step and we should follow with other steps to ensure our bride is fine for the wedding. Those that have not collected their PVCs should do so; INEC should clean her house while the military should do the same and let’s wait and see what happens on March 28th and April 11th.
Speaking further on the postponement, Dr Oluwatade said the government has come up with different excuses on the reasons why the election has to be shifted. According to him, I read in a newspaper that 26 million PVCs are yet to be collected, PVCs are still being printed abroad, my question is, who are they printing it for?
Continuing, he said last presidential election was held in April why has INEC change it to February? It was said that the INEC training manuals not ready; presiding officers not yet trained and a lot of other issues are facing the electoral body. I think INEC still has a lot to do but has failed to own up to the challenges facing her. The postponement may just save Nigeria a whole lot of problems. Election is not a crash programme neither a sandwich programme; it is something you need to prepare for and get it right. INEC and all other stakeholder in the exercise should ensure they put their houses in order and wait for the new date, the most important date is May 29th which should not be shifted.
Speaking on whether or not the shift will affect the psyche of the voters, he said what has happened is sacrifice that the electorate should make and remain strong and committed to vote despite the postponement. “It is a great sacrifice by Nigerians especially those who have travelled to where they registered only to hear that the election has been postponed; they should take it in good faith and our politicians now have more time to strategise on winning the election and should not heat up the political stage which is already tensed up due to the postponement. “I am not looking at politicians but at voters and the Nigerian nation. Our politicians are not realistic but selfish. I’m looking at those disenfranchised by INEC and if not corrected will not have a voice in the next government, Nigeria needs help likewise the electorate. If 40 million persons have collected their PVCs and 26 million have not, then the performance ratio for INEC is bad.
“The conduct of this election will be successful, we will get it right. I m very convinced about it. The chairman of INEC would not want to be blemished again after the first postponement; INEC would want to keep her integrity intact. They have not failed now but have some logistic problems but after these six weeks, if they fail to sort out themselves then we can say they have failed us as a nation. To me, INEC will perform and when over 90% of the electorate collect her PVC card who ever emerge as the president will be rest assured that majority of Nigerians and the electorate voted for him. Such a person will know that he is the president of the people”.
“My major concerned now is not for the politicians or political parties but for the INEC displaced persons and the internally displaced persons in this general election. These two categories of people can be helped by INEC and the Nigerian government. The politicians should be very careful about their utterances at this critical time and save the nation of any problem that might lead to violence before or after the election. The politicians have spent money for their campaign and have every tendency to say unpleasant words but I’d advised them against such and call on the federal Government to do something to compensate these politicians for the extra money they will be spending in the next six weeks”.
Dr Oluwatade said these six weeks will provide the president with the opportunity to do whatever is necessary to put Nigeria on the right track of history as the election has distracted him in so many ways and he has failed to implement some recommendation from the National Confab. The election has hindered the resolution issues from the confab. “Now with this one month the president should spend it wisely to reposition the nation. This nation is sick; politicians should allow it to recover before talking about wedding”.
“I want to call on the electorate who have collected their PVCs to ensure they keep it well and safe for the election come March and April and for those that don’t have, they should endeavour to collect  to enable them have a say in the governance of this great nation”, he concluded.