Mr Mike Igini has revealed that the failures of political parties to stick to INEC’s timetables and a plethora of petitions against the commission with regards to primaries, played a major role in the postponement of the elections originally scheduled for February 16.
Igini, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom, made this known when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
“Today within this period we are talking about, we have had a total of 640 cases joining INEC, and a total of 14 court orders either asking INEC to add or remove a name,” Igini stated.
He noted that one of the major grounds upon which elections are challenged in Nigeria is the issue of exclusion from the ballot, stressing that the commission had to contend with that.
The REC said the issues stemming from various party primaries caused a delay in the printing of ballot boxes which indirectly added to the rescheduling of the elections.
He said despite the fact that the commission issued a timetable and detailed schedule of electoral activities, political parties failed to stick to the deadlines, hence mounting more pressure on the electoral umpire.
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Mr Igini noted that in failing to stick to the commission’s scale of activities and not holding primaries as at when due, INEC’s operations were derailed.
He said the commission was left with just one month to produce ballot papers due to the way the parties handled their primaries.
Speaking about the logistics involved, Igini said over 400million ballot papers were printed containing 91 political parties and 73 slots for presidential candidates.
Igini said so much went into the production of the ballots especially within the limited time. He added that following the production of the ballot papers, the commission was then faced with the issue of moving the heavy pallets across the country by air and by road.
He said the commission tried to explore every means possible to get the ballot boxes to their various required destinations across the country but the time was not enough due; a situation which he said was largely brought about by the inconsistencies of primaries organized by various political parties.
Igini said the decision to reschedule the elections was a painful one, especially on account of the fact that just as INEC had been working round the clock, so also had Nigerians shoved aside their engagements to partake of the elections.
He said the decision was taken in the best interest of the country and the democratic process, particularly with regards to the fact that the nation has crossed very critical democratic thresholds which the commission has no intention to reverse.
The REC stressed that if the commission had proceeded with the exercise, the country would have had a situation where many Nigerians will be disenfranchised.