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Federal Government Moves To Shift Polls By Six Weeks



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Indications are rife that the Federal Govern­ment is set to shift the com­ing elections by six weeks, according to the Daily Times. This, it is believed, is to defuse the rising tension in the land and heated polity.

The presidential and Na­tional Assembly elections are currently scheduled for February 14, while those of the states will hold on Feb­ruary 28.

Daily Times, authorita­tively, reports that under the new proposal, the elections may now hold at the end of March.
The proposed change is hinged on the mounting tension in the country se­quel to violent displays at some of the ongoing cam­paigns across the country.

The feeling inside gov­ernment circles is that there is need to let the ten­sion, which is nearing boil­ing point in the country at the moment, come down before the election could hold, otherwise there could be an implosion.

Sources say that within the six weeks, efforts will be made to calm frayed nerves and encourage more people to embrace peace. It is feared that the presi­dential election in particu­lar may lead to an implo­sion in the country.

The body language in the North suggests a possible repeat of the bloodletting that occurred after Jona­than was declared winner of the 2011 election, if the incumbent wins again. It is also feared that a similar turmoil may erupt, espe­cially in the South South, if General Muhammadu Buhari of the All progres­sives Congress (APC) wins the election. Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is an Ijaw from the South South area of the country.

Besides, there is uncer­tainty over whether the elections could validly hold in the North Eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa which have been wracked by the Boko Ha­ram insurgency. There are security concerns over the safety of full-time and ad-hoc staff of the Indepen­dent Electoral Commission (INEC) during the polls.

This development was further accentuated by the recent declaration by European Union Election Observers who said they would not be visiting the troubled states over con­cerns for their safety.

Another reason being adduced for the proposed shift is the non-availability of the Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) across the states. The fear is that this may end up in the disen­franchisement of many eli­gible voters.

Thus, the Presidency be­lieves that shifting the polls by about six weeks would allow more people to get their PVCs and be eligible to vote.

Indeed, Section 26 (6) of the Electoral Act 2010 stip­ulates that an election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be held not earlier than 150 days to the expiration of the date of office and not later than 30 days to the expiration of the office.

Thus, if the six weeks shift is finally accepted, it will be within the time stipulated by the Electoral Act as there will be about 60 days before the expiration of the incumbent’s stay in office.

Last month, the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) at a talkshop in the UK flirted the idea of a slight shift in the date of the elections, a development that has sparked heated debates across the country. However, the NSA’s suggestion was received with huge backlash, as it was deemed, a ploy by some political party enthusiasts, to favour the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. It remains to be seen, the reaction that would greet such a decision, if it is eventually assented by the Federal Government. 

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