The coalition of civil society organizations in Bauchi State on Wednesday declared that the if the recent call by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd), for the postponement of next month general election was accepted, it could lead to civil unrest in the country.
Addressing a press briefing in Bauchi, the CSOs, under the Aggies of Coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Bauchi State, stated that any postponement of the elections would create suspicion among competing political parties and that would affect the credibility of the entire process, which could lead to civil unrest.
Speaking on behalf of others, the chairman of Bauchi State Youths Consortiums (BAYCON), Bala Mahmood, stated that most voters registered at their native homelands with a view to voting their favourite candidates in the elections, adding that any attempt to postpone the election would infringe on Nigerians’ fundamental human rights as some had travelled home already for the elections and would incur financial loss in case of any postponement.
According to Mahmood, this could lead to voter apathy, adding that it would also be an additional expenditure on the side of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“With the knowledge of public expenditure and the current inflation rate because of the devaluation of our Naira, it appears obvious that postponement of election will lead to variation in some of INEC’s contract agreement if not all. What this means is additional money to be spent from public treasury,” he said.
He added that any postponement now would generally affect the Nigerian economy, expressing the belief that by May 29, 2015 there would be change of government across all levels.
“Most shareholders, entrepreneurs and producers are holding back their capital because of uncertainties surrounding the general election. It could be observed that even government and its agencies across all levels are suspending their capital projects until after election and handing over. Postponement of the election further elongates the stagnation of the capital market thereby crumbling the economy,” the group noted.
The coalition submitted that that non-provision of permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) should not be an excuse for postponing the February elections, submitting that, “the NSA claimed that over 30 million voters have not collected their PVCs while INEC figure shows only 13 million voters as at then who could not collect their PVCs.”
While noting that the call for postponement was undemocratic, the group submitted that if Nigerians truly claimed to be democratic, they had to work by the rule of law, saying that it was only the National Assembly that should debate whether to hold or to postpone election not the NSA.
It further stated that insecurity in Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe states as mentioned by the NSA could not compared to those of Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt, which despite their security challenges conducted elections and new governments put in place.
The coalition, therefore, recommended that temporary voter’s cards be used by those who could not access their PVCs “since the TVCs contain biometrics,” adding that collection of PVCs should continue at least until two days to election.
It also requested that government should declared a two-day national public holiday to enable workers and all voters who were yet to collect their cards to do so.
According to the coalition, “in the spirit of the ‘Abuja Accord’ government should allow the elections as scheduled since INEC has not complained.”
It, however, called on Colonel Dasuki (retd) to focus his attention only on issues of national security.