National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, appealed to Nigerians to remain peaceful following the postponement of the general elections.
He made the plea in a statement on Saturday, hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shifted the polls by one week.
“Please, persevere just a bit longer to ensure that the elections on February 23 truly reflect the will of the people” the APC leader begged.
He added, “Do not allow this delay to deter you from the expression of your democratic rights. What you had set your mind to do on February 16, keep your mind and heart on for February 23.”
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Tinubu who said the postponement was painful asked all those who came out to vote and those who intended to do so to maintain their commitment.
He noted the challenges encountered by INEC but raised concern that the commission was unable to address the issues within the time allotted.
“We are also perplexed that INEC literally waited so late in the day to make known the obstacles preventing it from keeping faith to the election schedule,” the former Lagos State governor regretted.
He said, “INEC could have and should have given the nation more ample and earlier warning.
“This could have perhaps lessened the pervasive disappointment that we all now feel. It also would have helped people better order their steps”.
Tinubu’s quotes read, “We have reports of eager voters rising early to leave their homes to cast their ballots only to be told upon arriving at their appointed polling stations that the election had been postponed.
“This should not have happened for it could well discourage people from coming out when the election takes place. Thus, we heartily commend those people for coming out in exercise of their fundamental rights and duties as citizen voters, who vote by vote, seek to build and perfect our democracy.
“For each voter is in part an architect and each one of your votes is a brick by which, when lain together, shall construct a strong democracy in such a way that it shall forever stand and endure. Thus, we appeal to all who actually came out to vote and to those who intended to vote today, to maintain your commitment.
“Do not allow this delay to deter you from the expression of your democratic rights. What you had set your mind to do on February 16, keep your mind and heart on for February 23.
“INEC has stated the reason for the delay and has expressed regret over the inconveniences it has caused. We must take INEC’s statement at face value and hold to the belief that INEC understands even more than ever the sober and grave responsibility it has to our nation and our democracy.
“INEC can only properly discharge that responsibility by conducting free and fair elections. While we cannot go back to repair what did or did not happen to cause this postponement, we all must encourage INEC to do all that is necessary so voting can smoothly proceed on February 23.
“Whatever our political affiliation, we must encourage INEC to overcome the difficulties in order to rise to this most important occasion. INEC must commit itself more than ever before to perform to its utmost so that these elections will be remembered as a free and fair exercise consonant with the best of international standards.
“In the end, elections must be held in such a manner that every vote carries the same weight and no vote is minimized because elections took place much earlier or later in one place than in another. Thus, it is better to experience a slight delay to conduct the elections properly rather than to conduct the elections piecemeal and uneven fashion.
“No one will absolve INEC if such a fate befalls this all-important election. The electoral body must use the one-week extension to mend its logistics gaps and lapses. This delay has clearly provoked significant anger and disappointment among the people.
“The voters were ready and INEC should have been equally as prepared and ready as the voters. Yet, we ask that the people contain their anger and remain calm. Let no one be tempted to breach the peace because of this delay.
“In the greater scheme of things, a one-week delay is not overly burdensome when compared to the importance of conduct of free and just elections in the establishment of representative democracy and good governance in our land.
“Please, persevere just a bit longer to ensure that the elections on February 23 truly reflect the will of the people. Whatever obstacles may come, be they large or small, let us show the world the Nigerian people will not be deterred from realizing the democracy for which we have fought and sacrificed so long and so hard to achieve”.