Nigeria’s ffederal government on Tuesday said the 2023 general election will not be postponed or cancelled because of insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this in Abuja at the 17th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari scorecard series from 2015-2023, adding that nothing has happened to alter the election timetable.
The assurance by the federal government followed concerns raised by INEC, following rising cases of insecurity and the attack on the commission’s facilities in some parts of the country allegedly perpetrated by the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the militant arm of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), bandits and terrorist groups in the North-west and some other parts of the country as well as other forms of criminalities.
INEC had revealed that over 41 attacks had been carried out at its offices across 14 states since the 2019 general election, with the South-east recording 13 attacks.
The attacks which started in Abia on May 9, 2021, spread to Enugu and Ebonyi, with three incidents each; Imo, with two attacks; Anambra and Abia with one each and in Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states.
Also, the commission on Monday raised the alarm over the rising security situation across the country and its impact on the 2023 general elections.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke at the validation of election security training resources in Abuja noted that the forthcoming election faces serious threat of cancellation should the insecurity across the country fail to improve.
Yakubu, represented by the Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute, Abdullahi Zuru, explained that “if the insecurity is not monitored and dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in the cancellation and/or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder declaration of election results and precipitate constitutional crisis.
Mohammed, however, said the federal government was aware that INEC was working with the security agencies to ensure that the elections are successfully held across the country.
According to Mohammed, security agencies have assured the nation of a peaceful atmosphere for the polls.
Mohammed faulted the National Commissioner of INEC who had raised a red flag on the polls.
He said: “Let me use this opportunity to respond to inquiries from the media over a widely-circulated report, credited to an INEC official that the 2023 general election face a serious threat of cancellation due to insecurity.
“The position of the federal government remains that the 2023 elections will be held as planned. Nothing has happened to change that position. We are aware that INEC is working with the security agencies to ensure that the elections are successfully held across the country.
“The security agencies have also continued to assure Nigerians that they are working tirelessly to ensure that the elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm.”
INEC Has No Reasons to Postpone 2023 Elections, Says SDP Presidential Candidate
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Prince Adebayo Adewole, in Kano, yesterday, said INEC has no reason to postpone 2023 elections as it was being peddled in some quarters.
Adebayo told journalists in Kano that any move to shift or cancel elections would not be tolerated, adding that the electoral commission has no other excuse but to ensure that the elections were conducted as scheduled.
“INEC is the well-funded entity of the government and today they are even competing with some states in terms of financial strength, so they have no excuse whatsoever but make the election a huge reality,” he said.
According to him, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government had succeeded in playing a comedy show in the last eight years of their governance which he alleged plunged the nation into a more devastating position.
“The ruling APC has not only failed woefully but succeeded in creating poverty and insecurity among the citizens,
“Because of these glaring failures what the government is doing now is to create a comedy show and throw a bizarre towards the election, but people are getting it, that is why we don’t have a problem with what they are doing.
“For a family in Nigeria or Kano whose idea of their survival is prayers or miracles, and the miracles comes in form of going round to search for dustbin to get watermelon to boil, such a family does not deserve that kind of treatment and cannot say the so-called N5,000 they were given would remove their malice,” he added.
Adewole said his party was reaching out to Nigerians, adding that they knew with the structure they have in place and with the understanding of the citizens he would win the presidency.
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano