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No shift in election dates –INEC

The Independent Na­tional Electoral Commis­sion (INEC) on Wednesday said shifting the dates for the February general election is currently not under consid­eration.
This is even as National Chairman of the All Pro­gressives Congress (APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on Wednesday, reaffirmed his party’s commitment to fully participate in the Feb­ruary 14 and 28, 2015 gen­eral election, adding that it would not accept any post­ponement.
The no shift in election dates was made by the elec­toral umpire in a statement refuting a report in Reuters, a foreign news agency, that the 2015 general election may be delayed if the num­ber of Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, collected by voters is too low.
Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr. Kayode Idowu, in the rebut­tal said: “I write to refute your story in Reuters at­tributing National Commis­sioner of the Independent National Electoral Commis­sion (INEC), Amina Zakari, as saying that the 2015 gener­al elections may be delayed if the number of Permanent Voter Cards collected by vot­ers is too low.
“I was at the Situation Room Dialogue with INEC in Abuja this (Wednesday) morning and I know that the Commissioner spoke in regard of the February 8 deadline for the collection of PVCs, nothing about the schedule of the general elec­tions.
“You said she spoke to you ‘on the sidelines’ of the event. Well, I have checked with the Commissioner and she denied that the issue dis­cussed was the schedule of the 2015 elections.
“You had during the ques­tion-and-answer session at the event asked about the notably low level of collec­tion in some states and the implication for voter turn­out, which the Commission had missed out in her re­sponses. Later ‘on the side­lines’ she explained to you that the number of PVCs al­ready collected rates highly in comparison to the level of  voter turnout historically inNigerian elections.
“Still, she added, INEC has not completely fore­closed the possibility of granting a few days of ex­tension in isolated cases of low percentage of collection after February 8.
“The inference you’ve made for the schedule of elections is entirely yours, and misrepresents the con­versation that took place at the event this morning. You will do well to correct the report urgently, please”, the statement said.
Rejecting calls for shift in the election dates at World Press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, APC national chairman, Chief John Odi­gie-Oyegun, reaffirmed his party’s commitment to fully participate in the general elections on February 14 and 28, 2015.
He urged members of the National Council of State who are scheduled to meet today (Thursday) in Abuja to put the higher interest of Ni­geria above selfish and other narrow considerations.
Oyegun said the party is aware that the Presidency may attempt to drag mem­bers of the Council into its efforts to postpone the elec­tions.
He said members of the Council of State are Nige­rians who are held in very high esteem, and their in­volvement in a project that damages the democratic pro­cess will be a serious disser­vice to our national assets in leaders.
“Our party is encouraged by the fact that INEC has restated in clear and unam­biguous terms its determi­nation and ability to conduct the elections as planned. It is the constitutional pre­rogative of INEC to set elec­tion dates which nonethe­less should meet at least the minimum threshold of con­fidence”.
“We recognise that it had challenges but these are challenges that have been or are being seriously tackled by the Commission, and the engineered clamour for post­ponement is not helping the situation”.
Oyegun further stated that “attempts to rubbish INEC’s preparations in or­der to achieve a postpone­ment are being seen for what they are: a desperate ploy by the PDP administration to avoid certain electoral defeat. Unfortunately, in the process, the polity is being overheated to dangerous lev­els, with consequences that might be predictable at this stage”.
He said considering the zeal of Nigerians for change and their passion to vote, there should be no excuse to deny Nigerians the right to exercise their franchise.
Meanwhile, placard carry­ing protesters on Wednesday stormed the headquarters of the Independent Nation­al Electoral Commission (INEC) demanding for a shift in the February 14 and 28 general election for two months.
Yesterday’s protest was the second in the last few days.
The protesters are spe­cifically calling for the post­ponement of the February 14 Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the February 28 Gover­norship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
The protesters hinged their call for the shift of the polls on what they called the “marginalisation of the Southern part of the coun­try” in the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC).
They alleged that the dis­tribution of the PVCs has, so far, been skewed against the South and in favour of the North region.
The protesters, who came under the aegis of the Co­alition of Civil Societies and Concerned Nigerians, pointed out that states in the Northern part of the coun­try have received a total of 73 percent of the PVCs, while the states in the South have merely received a paltry 46 percent of the PVCs.
The North-West geo-politi­cal zone, the group said, has total registered voters of 18 million and has received 14 million or 75 percent of the distributed PVC, leaving be­hind 2.6m of voters that are yet to collect their PVCs.
It added that in the North-East geo-political zone has received 10.4 million regis­tered voters with a 7.4 mil­lion of PVC distribution and 2.9 million eligible voters yet to collect their PVCs.
The North-Central geo-po­litical zone, according to the group, has total registered voters of 10.5 million, with 5.5 million recorded to have collected their PVCs and 5 million said not to have col­lected their PVCs.


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