Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The presidential candidate of the People’s Trust, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has written to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, asking for the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections rescheduled for Saturday.
He said the one-week postponement of the elections earlier scheduled for last Saturday was too short to address the logistics problems the electoral body said were responsible for the last postponement.
According to a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Monday, Olawepo-Hashim told the INEC chairman in the letter that another extension was reasonable in view of the logistics burden on the contestants and the parties.
He argued that candidates and political parties would now have to repeat logistics preparations that had hitherto been deployed to achieve the level of mobilisation at the February 16 earlier date.
He said, “It is my considered opinion that in the haste to stick to a quickly announced date for the election, the commission may not have paid adequate attention to the attendant voter apathy that may result if adequate confidence building measures are not implemented to win back ‘would-be’ voters for the next date of polling.
“As a result and because potential voters’ apathy in some section of the country or all of the country may substantially affect the results of the election, a new date of election should be between three to four weeks from February 16, and not one week from February 16 as previously announced.
“This is more so for self-funded candidates and political parties who do not have the possibilities or intentions of falling quickly on the state treasuries to refinance another logistic deployment.”
He also noted that campaigns should also resume in consonance with extant legislation that allows campaign to continue up till 24 hours before elections.
“The Commission should liaise with the National Orientation Agency who should use its national networks to ensure mobilisation of communities, social and interest groups to reach potential voters in order to avoid voter apathy at the next date of election,” he added in the letter.