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Elections should be postponed: national security adviser

2015-01-23 08:03
Party supporters dance carries a banner with picture of Nigerian President and Presidential candidate of the ruling People's Democratic Party Goodluck Jonathan during a rally in Lagos on January 8, 2015. Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan on Thurs ~ PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Abuja - National security adviser said on Thursday that next month's presidential and parliamentary elections should be postponed because not all voter cards had been distributed.

Sambo Dasuki's suggestion came just three weeks ahead of the polling date, during a question and answer session at a conference at the Chatham House international affairs think-tank in London.

"We said (to the Independent National Electoral Commission), look, there is a problem... We still have about 30 million... (voter) cards to distribute," he said.

"Look at the possibility of shifting this thing and doing it when everybody has a card because it doesn't cost you anything, is still within the law and it is safer for all of us.

"So, that is what we are encouraging. They (INEC) keep assuring us that everybody will have his card but I doubt it."

Also Read: INEC will not disqualify Buhari over certificate saga
Voting for a new president and parliament in Africa's most populous nation and leading economy has been set for February 14, with gubernatorial and state assembly elections to follow two weeks later.

The run-up to the election has already been clouded by security fears with swathes of the northeast in the control of Boko Haram militants.

INEC has been scrambling for a solution to allow hundreds of thousands of displaced people to vote in the area, which is an opposition stronghold.

INEC said that 68.8 million people have registered to vote so far out of the 170 million population.

INEC spokesman Kayode Idowu told AFP his agency had received no word of any postponement.

"INEC has not received communication on it. As we speak, there is no basis for something like that, because in terms of preparation, we are on course," Idowu said.

"The commission is preparing. PVC (permanent voter cards) are being collected. Those that are remaining, we are sure they will be available for people to collect before the end of the month," he stated.

'Clandestine plot'

The main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has voiced concern that if voters in the region controlled by Boko Haram are disenfranchised, then the validity of the overall result of the election will be in doubt.

The APC is seen as having its best chance of dumping the ruling party of President Goodluck Jonathan out of power since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.

It said that Dasuki's suggestion "has exposed the hitherto clandestine plot by the Jonathan administration to push for the postponement of the polls, using all sorts of cheap tricks".

Also Read: Under threat for supporting PDP - Governor

Any postponement could trigger a constitutional crisis and is "capable of undermining the nation's democracy", the party added in a statement.

The international community should now get a commitment from Jonathan that the elections will take place and that he will respect the result, the APC concluded.

The United States last week urged Nigeria to go ahead with the vote, despite an upsurge in Boko Haram-linked violence, including a massive attack on the northeastern town of Baga on January 3.

Election monitors from the European Union have already arrived in the country, while the political campaigns of all parties and the 14 presidential candidates are in full swing.

'Don't make excuses'

Dasuki, a former soldier, last year unveiled a "soft power" approach to tackling Boko Haram, including measures to prevent radicalisation in the impoverished Muslim-majority north.

The plan was seen as a tacit recognition that the use of military might alone would not end the bloody, six-year conflict.

Since then, there have been repeated complaints from soldiers about inadequate weapons and equipment to fight the better-armed rebels, and reports that many fled in the face of the enemy.

Also Read: Ex-militant set to avenge attack on Jonathan

Some, including the APC, have blamed corruption, as a massive 20 percent of last year's $30-billion federal budget went on defence -- the highest since the 1967-1970 civil war.

The government rejects the claims and Dasuki told the London conference that soldiers who made excuses about not being able to take on the insurgents were "a lot of cowards".

Read more on: inec  |  2015 elections

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