President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he is deeply disappointed with the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The President said this on Saturday in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
He said, “I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally the INEC postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commitment”.
The President lamented that many Nigerians had travelled far and wide from various locations to exercise their franchise likewise the international observers.
“Many Nigerians have travelled to various locations to exercise their rights to vote and international observers have gathered.
“INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour, that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them,” he said.
The President, however, disclosed that his administration will not interfere in the processes of the Commission but will rather ensure that all funds are released.
He said, “We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire & the sanctity of the electoral process & ballot, I urge all political stakeholders & Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey”.
The President appealed to Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.
He added that he has decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.
The commission postponed the general elections by a week, less than five hours to the start of the polls.
According to thePresidental and National Assembly initially scheduled for today, February 16, will now hold on February 23, while the governorship and state houses of assembly elections will take place on March 9.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, announced the decision at a short press briefing at 2:44 am on Saturday morning.
According to him, the postponement will afford the commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of the nation’s elections.
“This was a difficult decision for the commission to take but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy,” he added.