How did you receive the news of election postponement?
Last Saturday, few hours to the presidential and National Assembly elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shocked Nigerians and the world with the news of the postponement of the elections, citing bad weather, logistics, operational plan shortfalls as reasons. OLASUNKANMI OSO sampled the views of Nigerians to enquire how they received the news of the elections’ postponement. Their views:
I am disappointed but not surprised. I am disappointed in the sense that INEC had years to prepare for the elections. INEC claimed they were ready. There was high turnout of people ready to exercise their civic responsibility, only to receive the sad news. Things like these could make people doubt the credibility of INEC. I am not surprised because we have seen this in previous elections, but this is absurd as INEC deemed it fit to announce the postponement just few hours to the elections. I actually woke up to the news. Now imagine those that had to travel and dedicate so much just to ensure they vote. Let us not even talk about corps members that decided to work as ad hoc members and all. We still have a lot to do as a country.
I am deeply disappointed in our leaders and in Nigeria as a country. It is a shame on our government and INEC. The nation had four good years to plan for this day. Yet, it was postponed. When would we ever get things right in this country? Nigeria is a scam. Is INEC now telling us that what they failed to get right within four years of planning for the election, would now be achieved within a week?
The news came to me while I was already in a deep sleep. As a cub reporter, I had prepared myself for the routine coverage of the election having gotten accredited as one of the media personnel who would cover Sokoto State. “Ibro, have you heard that the election has been postponed?” asked, Mr Fisayo Soyombo, Editor of Sahara Reporters, in a telephone conversation. “Suspend your activities for now,” he quickly added and said goodbye. I felt much weakened by the news. Many thoughts visited my mind. I thought of what could have been the cause of the suspension. I was sad. And the reporting spirit in me was tired—and retired, too.
The much-expected presidential election in Nigeria was to hold on the 16th of February, 2019. I was in high octane like other Nigerians back home and in the diaspora. Not being a television person—on this day, I decided to monitor events on social media and the TV. Rumours of cancellation of the election started to surface on Facebook. As usual, I did not believe it. Alas, the INEC officials arose from their meeting to announce the cancellation of the election less than six hours to its commencement. Shock would be an understatement. Sleep at those wee hours became impossible.
To me, I have reached a stage that nothing about this country worries me. I am only physically existing in Nigeria. I registered for the elections. But they did not give me PVC, because I could not travel 21 hours for it. So, I left it for them and decided to just be a spectator. I was sleeping when my mother came in around 5:30 a.m. that they have postponed the elections. It did not even move me. So, when I woke up fully at 10 a.m., I just waved it aside as standard. I was not expecting anything from them.
Embarrassed! Although being a Nigerian has sadly prepared me to adapting to any circumstance, no matter how bad, I cannot help but curse those that led us to this sorry state. That we cannot get a ritualistic event like election right speaks to how corruption has retarded the entity called Nigeria. But for deep-rooted corruption, Nigeria should have passed the level of impossibility whenever it is set to accomplish even toughest human tasks like landing on the moon. Corruption in all forms—stealing, nepotism, cronyism, etc.—must be stamped out of our existence to achieve desired greatness.
I was disappointed and furious because I wasted resources to transport myself to the local government where I was supposed to get the necessary election materials and to be transported to my polling unit where I was to work as a Presiding Officer. After having to sleep in an overcrowded room, only to wake up very early on Saturday to find out our much-anticipated election has been postponed.
The election postponement by INEC is a slap on Nigerians. Such inappropriate decision by INEC should not fly without backlash. INEC had four years to prepare for the election with an adjusted budget of over 143 billion naira in February. INEC had enough time and funds to put this election in place but they failed. Inasmuch as election postponement is a two-faced bronze sculpture, there is still possibility of another postponement today. My two pence: INEC should be given 100 per cent autonomy to conduct free and fair elections devoid of the ruling party’s influence. Enough of the image-damaging drama.