Political parties in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have cried foul over the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shift the conduct of the area council election by three weeks saying the decision is unjustifiable.
Some of the political parties said the commission has no reason to postpone the election after it was given three years to prepare for it.
The FCT Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Jacob Jatau, had announced at an emergency stakeholders’ meeting yesterday that the area council elections earlier scheduled for March 19 has been postponed to April 9 due to some difficulties in getting the required number of ad-hoc staff for the election.
He said the commission would be using students from University of Abuja due to the inability of the NYSC to provide the commission with the required number of ad hoc staff.
“The NYSC has given us those that are available. We are expecting most of our ad hoc staff to come from them but by the time they gave us that number, we have to rush to University of Abuja for more,” he said.
He said training for the students commenced yesterday and would last for three days before their deployment for election duties.
“We cannot effectively train and deploy the ad hoc staff effectively for the election on Saturday. Ad hoc staff are one of the primary and key requirements for us to be able to conduct a very good election,” he said.
The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the FCT, Yahaya Yunusa Suleiman said INEC had no excuse whatsoever to postpone the election.
“How can the umpire tell Nigerians now in the nick of time that it has not recruited the ad hoc staff that will do this job. It doesn’t seem believable because it is not justifiable,” he said.
He said the postponement comes at a time the political parties have gone very far in their campaigns alleging that the party feels something is fishy.
His Labour Party counterpart, Rev Comrade Joseph Indi said the party received the news with shock, adding that the excuse given by INEC is flimsy.
APGA’s FCT coordinator, Phillip Okoli said stakeholders are not well informed about the plans of INEC for the election.
“We are not happy because it is money we are using and we will use money to inform our supporters about the postponement,” he said.
On his part the FCT chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said it is a welcome development and that the party is ready for the election but the postponement means they will go back and polish their plans for the elections.
He said unlike the position of some stakeholders, there is nothing fishy about the postponement, explaining that this is not the first time election will be postponed in the country.
Meanwhile, the FCT NYSC coordinator, Mr. Omotayo D. Adewoye said some corps members pulled out of the election out of fear for their lives, adding that their parents and guardians called to stop them from participating in the election.
We deserve and require assurance from politicians that they are going to cooperate with law enforcement agencies that the lives of corps members are secured.
INEC has also directed that campaign ends by April 7.