The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday postponed the presidential and national assembly elections.
The announcement by INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja came hours before Nigerians were slated to head to the polling units.
The announcement was made at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
The Presidential and National Assembly elections were earlier scheduled to hold on February 16, while that of Governorship and State House of Assembly were expected to hold on March 2.
Professor Yakubu, however, told reporters that the polls would not go on as planned due to some challenges encountered by the commission.
According to him, the decision to postpone the polls followed a careful review of the implementation of the logistics and operational plans put in place for the exercise.
The INEC boss reiterated the commitment of the electoral body to conducting a free, fair, and credible exercise.
He explained that the postponement of the elections would afford them the opportunity to address the issues raised, although the decision was a tough one to make.
The new dates for the elections are February 23 for presidential and national assembly elections and March 9 for governorship and state assemblies elections.
Mr Yakubu said further details of the postponement would be disclosed at a conference scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Saturday.
Read the statement by the INEC Chairman below:
“The Independent National Electoral Commission met on Friday, 15 February 2019 and reviewed its preparation for the 2019 general elections scheduled for Saturday, February 16, and Saturday, March 2.
“Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plans and its determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible.
“Consequently, the commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential/National Assembly elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship/State House of Assembly/Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections are 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 elections and consolidation of our democracy.
“The Commission will meet with key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2 P.M at the Abuja International Conference Centre.”
States with logistics problems
Some of the states where INEC’s logistic challenges occur are Niger and Ekiti.
An earlier report by the News Agency of Nigeria stated that the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Niger State said ballot papers for two of the state’s three senatorial districts were missing as of Friday evening.
In Ekiti, the former governor of the state, Ayo Fayose, accused INEC of deliberately hoarding materials for the presidential, Senate and House of Representatives elections in some states to frustrate the PDP.
Mr Fayose said he was aware that ballot papers and result sheets for presidential and senatorial elections were not in Ekiti State as at 9 p.m. on Friday, adding that only materials for the House of Representatives were distributed.
According to his spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, Mr Fayose said similar situations already reported in Oyo, Taraba, Edo, Niger, Ogun, Rivers and other states.