Pressure mounted by President Goodluck Jonathan’s loyalists and service chiefs on the Independent National Electoral Commission led to the postponement of the 2015 general elections, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
The polls were billed for February 14 (presidential and National Assembly) and February 28 (governorship and House of Assembly).
President Jonathan who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party is contesting against retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress and 12 other candidates at the presidential poll.
Those who pushed for the postponement, despite the opposition from the All Progressives Congress and many Nigerians, include the Presidency; the Peoples Democratic Party Jonathan’s loyalists; the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki; the Chiefs of Defence, Army, Naval and Air Staff, among others.
Two weeks ago, Dasuki, while speaking at a forum at the Chatham House in London, asked INEC to postpone the elections, saying the shift would allow for proper preparations and distribution of PVCs by the electoral body.
In an apparent reaction to Dasuki’s call, the United States had on January 25, 2015, advised Nigeria against postponing the elections.
The US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, gave the advice after he met with Jonathan and Buhari.
Kerry urged the Federal Government not to postpone the elections as canvassed by Dasuki.
However, the military chiefs wrote to Jega, informing him of the security implication of holding the elections in February as earlier scheduled. This, it was learnt, what part of what influenced shifting of the polls.
Before the INEC chairman announced the new dates for the elections, the commission had insisted that the presidential and National Assembly elections be held on February 14, while the governorship and states House of Assembly election be held two weeks later.
Jega, however, changed the dates of the elections at a press conference he addressed at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Saturday. He repeatedly held the NSA and security chiefs responsible for the shift.
The press conference came up after he met with representatives of all registered political parties. See-more-next page…