The primary opposition party, the PDP, and the ruling party, the APC, have both engaged in verbal combat over purported plans to push back the 2023 general elections.
While the PDP claimed that the ruling party intended to coerce INEC into delaying the polls, INEC rejected the claims as unfounded and motivated by fear.
There are worries that the general elections may be delayed in light of this.
At a gathering in Abuja on Monday, Abdullahi Zuru, the chairman of the Board of Electoral Institute, reportedly spoke on behalf of Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the commission, warning that the elections face serious dangers of being called off if the country’s security situation doesn’t get better.
“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,” he said.
However, the federal government through the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed said the following day that the polls will hold as scheduled.
Also, Mr Yakubu, while meeting with officials of the political parties in Abuja on Wednesday, said INEC was not contemplating any adjustment to the election timetable, let alone postponing the 2023 general elections.
In a press conference on Friday, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said APC was trying to blackmail critical election stakeholders to accede to its design to postpone the 2023 general elections, particularly the presidential election.
The ultimate intent of the APC, he said, is to use the postponement to derail the entire electoral process and impose an undemocratic situation on our country.
“The PDP hereby insists without equivocation that the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly election date is sacrosanct. February 25, 2023 date is already locked in for the presidential and National Assembly elections, the security agencies have given their assurances, the federal government has also given its assurance; Nigerians are ready for election and will not accept any postponement of elections under any guise whatsoever.
“The APC and its presidential candidate Asiwaju Tinubu know that they have no chance at all in the coming elections, having been rejected by Nigerians because of their multiple failures, recklessness, humongous corruption, violence and continuing infliction of pains, hardship and life-discounting experiences on Nigerians in the last seven and half years,” Mr Ologunagba said.
He also accused the APC and its presidential candidate of promoting violence across the country including attacking INEC facilities.
He urged INEC not to succumb to “the blackmails of the APC” but focus on its preparations and fix its eyes on delivering a free, fair, transparent and credible election next month.
PDP confused – APC
In a swift reaction, the APC said INEC has no plans to postpone the elections, contrary to claims by the PDP.
In a statement on Friday, Bayo Onanuga, the director, media and publicity for the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), said the PDP is confused and afraid of its own shadows and should not be taken serious by Nigerians.
He said the PDP has resorted to making false claims because it has nothing tangible to tell Nigerians six weeks to the general election.
The claim that the federal government and INEC plan to postpone the general election was the latest false information being peddled by the PDP, he noted. He advised Nigerians to ignore the allegation, describing it as a senseless conjecture from PDP as there was no iota of truth in it.
“President Muhammadu Buhari who has given this country the most credible elections both regular and off season elections since 2015, has consistently assured Nigerians, even up to two days ago that 2023 elections will hold.
“Similarly the Minister of Information has reiterated Buhari’s position that the federal government has no intention to postpone the election.”
While he asked the PDP to steer clear as Nigerians have “already rejected it”, he called on citizens to ignore the allegations and focus on the message of hope delivered by the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.