Election postponement: Buhari apologises to Nigerians

•Blames action on INEC’s inefficiency

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed disappointment at the postponement of the general elections despite assurances he had received from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that everything was on course for smooth conduct of the exercise.

Following the postponement, he returns from his hometown Daura, Katsina state, where he would have voted but returned back to Abuja at 1.15p.m. on Saturday.

A statement issued on Saturday and personally signed by him, informed that he was deeply disappointed considering that many Nigerians had travelled while international observers had gathered.

He said his administration had not interfered with the business of INEC beyond providing it with all the support it needed.

The president urged the electoral body to be sure that the materials distributed are safe and do not fall into the wrong hands.

The statement read: “I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.

“Many Nigerians have travelled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.

“INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections.

We and all our citizens believed them.

ALSO READ: Mixed reactions over election postponement in Bauchi

“This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.

“We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.

“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.

“I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.

“I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.”

Before leaving Daura for Abuja, the president apologized to Nigerians, especially those who had travelled, over the election postponement.

Asked by reporters what he had to tell Nigerians, he said: “They should be patient. Let them come out a week from today and vote. I apologize for this inefficiency because they have to use their own resources to go back to their various polling units at their own expense if they are all that  committed.”

President Buhari blamed the election postponement on the inefficiency of the electoral body which, he maintained, had enough resources.

He added: “Yes, I am disappointed because INEC has got all the time and resources needed and therefore supposed to work according to their programme.

“They were given all the resources,  they had all the time and they kept on telling us up to the last minute that they were ready.  The fact that they are not ready means there is some inefficiency  along the line.”

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