Read full text of Prof Jega’s statement on election postponement


Ladies and Gentlemen,


We invited you here today to make known the position of the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the timetable for the 2015
general elections. Let me state from the outset that the Commission’s
position was reached after carefully weighing the suggestions from
briefings held with different stakeholders in the electoral process.

The conduct of elections in a country like Nigeria is invariably a
collective venture that involves not just the Election Management Body
(EMB), but also a diverse range of stakeholders, notably security
agencies, political parties and their candidates, voters, as well as
interest groups, such as the civil society organizations and the media.
To guarantee successful conduct of elections, there are things that are
wholly the responsibility of the EMB. But there are other things
critical for the success of elections, which fall outside the control of
the EMB.

In other words, while INEC must work hard to perfect its systems and
processes for conducting elections, and take responsibility for any
imperfections thereof, whatever the Commission does may not by itself be
sufficient to guarantee the success of elections. There are a number of
issues in the preparation and conduct of an election, the most critical
of which is security, which is not under the control of INEC.

Current State of INEC’s Preparedness

On Thursday, February 5, 2015, I was invited to brief the National
Council of State, which is the highest advisory to the President
comprising past and present leaders in Nigeria, on the level of
preparedness of INEC to conduct the 2015 general elections. I made a
presentation to the Council titled ‘Preparations for the 2015 General
Elections: Progress Report,’ in which I gave a detailed account of what
the Commission has been doing in readiness for the national elections
(National Assembly and Presidential) scheduled for February 14th, and
the state elections (Governorship and State Assembly) scheduled for
February 28th, 2015.

The summary of my presentation to the National Council of State meeting
is that, for matters under its control, INEC is substantially ready for
the general elections as scheduled, despite discernible challenges being
encountered with some of its processes like the collection of Permanent
Voter Cards (PVCs) by registered members of the public.

In addition, INEC has been doing everything it can to facilitate the
collection of the PVCs by registered members of the public. As at 5th
February 2015, the total number of PVCs collected was 45, 829, 808,
representing 66.58% of the total number of registered voters.

In the delivery and deployment of electoral materials, INEC is also at a
comfort level in its readiness for the general elections as scheduled
(see the presentation to the Council of State). The Commission’s
preparations are not yet perfect or fully accomplished. But our level of
preparedness, despite a few challenges, is sufficient to conduct free,
fair and credible elections as scheduled on February 14th and February
28th. Compared with 2011 when, within a short time, we conducted general
elections that were universally adjudged free, fair and credible and
the best in Nigeria’s recent electoral history, our processes are today
better refined, more robust and therefore capable of delivering even
better elections.

Other Variables

But as I mentioned earlier, there are some other variables equally
crucial for successful conduct of the 2015 general elections that are
outside the control of INEC. One important variable is security for the

While the Commission has a very good working relationship with all
security agencies, especially on the platform of the Inter-agency
Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) since its inception
in 2010, it has become pertinent for it to seriously consider the
security advisory presented to it by the Security and Intelligence
Services. I would like to reiterate here that INEC is an EMB and not a
security agency. It relies on the security services to provide a safe
environment for personnel, voters, election observers and election
materials to conduct elections wherever it deploys. Where the security
services strongly advise otherwise, it would be unconscionable of the
Commission to deploy personnel and call voters out in such a situation.

Last Wednesday, which was a day before the Council of State meeting, the
office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) wrote a letter to the
Commission, drawing attention to recent developments in four Northeast
states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe currently experiencing the
challenge of insurgency. The letter stated that security could not be
guaranteed during the proposed period in February for the general

This advisory was reinforced at the Council of State meeting on Thursday
where the NSA and all the Armed Services and Intelligence Chiefs
unanimously reiterated that the safety and security of our operations
cannot be guaranteed, and that the Security Services needed at least six
weeks within which to conclude a major military operation against the
insurgency in the Northeast; and that during this operation, the
military will be concentrating its attention in the theatre of
operations such that they may not be able to provide the traditional
support they render to the Police and other agencies during elections.

INEC’s Decision

We have done wide ranging consultation to enable us have as much input
as is necessary before taking an informed decision. In the series of
consultations that we held with stakeholders, the questions consistently
posed to them for consideration are:

(i) In view of the latest development, should INEC proceed with the
conduct of the general elections as scheduled in spite of this strong
advice; and if so, what alternative security arrangements are available
to be put in place?

(ii) Or, should INEC take the advice and adjust the schedules of the
general elections within the framework of Constitutional provisions?

The Commission held a meeting after the consultations, and decided to
take the advice of the Security Chiefs and adjust the dates of the
elections. We have done this relying on Section 26(1) of the Electoral
2010 (As Amended), which states thus: “Where a date has been appointed
for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a
serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is
proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the elections
as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, the Commission
may postpone the election and shall in respect of the area, or areas
concerned, appoint another date for the holding of the postponed
election, provided that such reason for the postponement is cogent and

INEC not being a security agency that could by itself guarantee
protection for personnel and materials, as well as voters during
elections, the Commission cannot lightly wave off the advice by the
nation’s Security Chiefs. The Commission is specifically concerned about
the security of our ad hoc staff who constitute at least 600,000 young
men and women, together with our regular staff, voters, election
observers as well as election materials painstakingly acquired over the
last one and half years. This concern is limited not just to the areas
in the North-eastern part of Nigeria experiencing insurgency; the risk
of deploying young men and women and calling people to exercise their
democratic rights in a situation where their security cannot be
guaranteed is a most onerous responsibility. Under such circumstances,
few EMBs across the world, if any, would contemplate proceeding with the
elections as scheduled. No matter the extent of INEC’s preparedness,
therefore, if the security of personnel, voters, election observers and
election materials cannot be guaranteed, the life of innocent young men
and women as well the prospects of free, fair, credible and peaceful
elections would be greatly jeopardised.

Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the 2015 general
elections thus: the national elections (i.e. Presidential and National
Assembly) are now to hold on March 28th, 2015; while the state elections
(Governorship and State Assembly) are to hold on April 11th, 2015. It
should be noted that this rescheduling falls within the constitutional
framework for the conduct of the elections, notably, Sections 76(2),
116(2), 132(2) and 178(2). See also Section 25 of the Electoral Act 2010
(As Amended).

For the avoidance of doubt, we will under no circumstances approve an
arrangement that is not in line with the provisions of our laws. Our
hope is that with this rescheduling, the security services will do their
best to ensure that the security environment needed for safe and
peaceful conduct of the 2015 elections is rapidly put in place.

We in INEC reassure all Nigerians and indeed the international community
of our commitment to do everything within the law and to conduct free,
fair, credible and peaceful elections. We call on the security agencies
to honour their commitment to restore sufficient normalcy for elections
to take place within the period of extension. We also call on Nigerians,
political parties, candidates and all other stakeholders to accept this
decision in good faith and ensure the maintenance of peace.

As for us in INEC we’ll endeavour to use the period of the extension to
keep on perfecting our systems and processes for conducting the best
elections in Nigeria’s history. In particular, we believe that we would
resolve all outstanding issues related to non-collection of PVCs, which
agitate the minds of many Nigerians.

Finally, we wish to call on all Nigerians to accept our decision, which
is taken in good faith and the best interest of deepening democracy ion
our country.

Thank you.

Professor Attahiru M. Jega, OFR
Chairman, INEC​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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