By Kelvin Okunzuwa and Nkena Nwadilike
After 24 hours of brainstorming, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday resolved to hold the Edo governorship election on Sept. 10 as scheduled.
Mr Solomon Soyebi, INEC National Commissioner in-charge of Voter Education and Publicity, said at a press conference held at INEC’s office in Benin that the election would not be postponed.
The police and Directorate of State Security (DSS) had advised that the election be postponed because of security threat.
Soyebi, who said INEC as the body statutorily set up to conduct elections in the country, would not take orders from any institution with regard to the performance of its constitutional duties.
“We have therefore weighed all the consequences of a postponement in the election and have resolved to go ahead with the conduct of the election on Saturday as scheduled,’’ he said.
Reacting to the decision, the National Chairman of the National Conscience party, Dr Yunusa Tanko, Thursday hailed INEC’s insistence to go ahead with Saturday’s governorship elections in Edo.
Tanko, in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) faulted earlier security report advising the commission to postpone the elections over security threats.
The Nigeria Police and Department of State Services said that credible intelligence availed the agencies indicated plans by insurgent to attack vulnerable communities and soft targets during the forthcoming Sallah celebrations between September 12 and 13.
The report further identified Edo as among the states being earmarked for the planned attacks by the insurgents.
Tanko, however, urged the security agencies to brace up with the security challenges before during and after the elections to guarantee the safety of lives and property in the state.
He said, “the idea of postponing elections at the eve of the exercise, if not checked, will become a regular feature in the country’s electoral process.
“Why will such a report be made available at the eve of an election?
“We have been gathering intelligence reports for months and all those ones did not explain there was going to be a threat to the election.’’
“That shows that intelligence reports have not been effective.
“Weeks before, the pointers should have been this is what is happening not at the point of election.
He said that if the security agencies are up and doing and really ready, they should have been expecting security challenges considering the fact that there has been all kinds of threats arising from bombing of oil facilities in recent times.
He explained that the election planning had been on for sometimes, so the security agencies should have been prepared for the onslaught.
A threat like this, he said, shouldn’t stop election at all and if you give room for that it shows you are not prepared and then you are not in contact with realities of time.
“It is totally unacceptable and the trend will continue if it is allowed because we started with the general election in 2015, they succeeded in postponing that election and now it is moving towards Edo.
“This means that in the future every election will be postponed under the guise of security threat and that will at the end of the day make people not believe in our elections anymore,’’ Tanko stated.
NAN reports that the election is expected to be strongly fought between the candidate of the incumbent governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Godwin Obaseki, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenger, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.