The date for swearing into office of a new government of the federation remains May 29, 2015 whether or not the Independent National Electoral Commission has shifted the dates for this year’s general elections.
Dr Reuben Abati, Presidential Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, affirmed this on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan in a statement on Sunday sequel to the massive local and international condemnation of INEC’s Saturday night decision to shift the presidential, governorship, senatorial and House of Reps elections from February 14 & 28 to March 28 and April 11.
Jonathan appealed to all and sundry to accept the “shift in dates for the polls in good faith”
“I also assure you that despite the change, I remain committed to the sanctity of May 29, 2015 as the terminal date of my four-year first term.
Swift and massive the condemnations of the February 14 elections, on the grounds of insecurity, poured in on Sunday from the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the APC, Arewa Consultative Forum, APC presidential candidate Buhari, Senators and lawyers.
The military chiefs had warned INEC given that plans are at an advanced stage to confront the Boko Haram insurgents any moment from now, they would have men to police the polls, especially in the North-East until towards the end of March.
“The security agencies have informed the commission that they would not be available to provide adequate support if the polls were to take place on February 14 and February 28 as earlier scheduled.
US Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement expressed disappointment over the development and “cautioned that the Federal Government should not use security as a pretext to derail democracy”.
It warned the FG against “political interference with the duties of INEC” and urged it to ensure that the elections were not delayed any further than the new dates.
“The international community will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The US underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond noted that the shift of the elections was a cause for concern and also advised the Federal Government against using the security situation in the North-East as a reason to deny Nigerians the right to exercise their democratic rights.
The email read, “The decision by INEC to postpone the presidential elections is a cause for concern. The Nigerian people have the right to credible, peaceful and transparent elections. There should be no further delay in delivering democracy and we urge all to remain calm during this period of frustration.
“While we support Nigeria in its struggle against terrorism, the security situation should not be used as a reason to deny the Nigerian people from exercising their democratic rights. It is vital that the elections are kept on track and held as soon as possible in accordance with international norms.”
APC presidential candidate Buhari grumbled that by shifting the dates based on the excuse by the military, INEC had shown that its independence had been compromised.
Buhari urged his supporters to remain calm because “the ruling Peoples Democratic Party would not succeed at the polls next month”.
“It is important to note that although INEC acted within its constitutional powers, it is clear that it has been boxed into a situation where it has had to bow to pressure. Thus, the independence of INEC has been gravely compromised.”
The northern conscious AC also expressed disappointment over the poll shift but called on Nigerians to be prayerful and desist from acts that could jeopardise the nation’s democracy.