The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, has offered more reasons why the elections were reschedule.
Giving more details on Saturday afternoon, Yakubu said the “logistics and operational problems” he earlier said prompted the rescheduling of the 2019 general elections billed to start Saturday.
At a news conference in Abuja, Yakubu said the commission had been involved in large scale operations in preparations for the polls that “it is therefore not unexpected that such a tremendous national mobilisation of men and materials would encounter operational challenges.”
He listed the key challenges to be delays in delivering ballot papers and result sheets, occasioned in part by flight challenges due to bad weather.
He said apart from the logistical challenges, there were attempts to sabotage the commission’s preparations, listing fire outbreaks at INEC facilities that destroyed smart card readers and voter cars. The fire at Anambra was the most serious of all, he said.
Yakubu said despite those setbacks, the commission rapidly recovered by mopping up available card readers elsewhere.
He said if the polls had gone ahead, it would have meant some states starting well ahead of others with the implication of the elections being staggered.
“Faced with these challenges, we initially thought that we only required a maximum of 24 hours to resolve the logistics issues involved and complete our deployment for the election,” he said.
“This would mean shifting the elections to commence on Sunday 17th February, 2019. However, given the restriction of movement during elections, that could affect many voters who worship on Sunday. While the commission considering the following Monday, 19th February, 2019 as an option, our ICT department advised us that it would require 5-6 days to configure about 180,000 smart card readers earlier programmed to work only on election day, Saturday, 16th February 2019.”
Earlier, Yakubu had said: “Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the Commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.
“Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the govemorship, state House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) area council elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019.
“This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.
“This was a difficult decision for the Commission to take, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.
“The Commission will meet key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2pm on Saturday, l6th February 2019 at the Abuja International Conference Centre.”
The Nation gathered that although there is a window for INEC to stagger the conduct of the polls, Prof. Yakubu insisted on a tidier process than a haphazard format.
Out of the three options available to INEC, it chose the postponement of the polls because that has “lesser risks.”