Contrary to the speculation going round that Nigeria’s general elections will be shifted to a later date, Nigeria’s highest decision making body – National Council of State has okayed the elections to kick off on February 14 as scheduled.
The issue which form part of the discussion during the Council of State on Thursday was finally resolved with directive to the Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to proceed with preparations as schedule without delay.
There were speculations prior to the Council meeting that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration may influence the National body to get INEC shift the voting dates.
Presidential and National Assembly elections were scheduled to hold on February 14, while Gubernatorial and States Assembly elections were fixed for February 28.
Meanwhile some sources at the meeting revealed that all former heads of state at the meeting agreed that INEC’s plans to conduct the elections as schedule earlier should be respected.
But some governors Present at the meeting were divided along party lines.
According to sources, majority of PDP governors wanted the polls delayed for fear of insecurity in parts of the country and to enable the 34 percent of voters collect their permanent voter cards – their counterparts in the opposition however insisted that the poll must proceed as scheduled.
Speaking shortly after the meeting Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State said that INEC assured the Council it was ready to conduct the elections and that the distribution of the permanent voter cards was going on well.
Okorocha said, “It was one of an unusual Council of State meeting that took over seven hours deliberating on a very sensitive issue as to whether INEC is prepared for the elections or not and whether there is need for the change of dates of these elections.
“INEC has said they are very ready to conduct these elections and the security agencies have shown concerns about certain local governments where they have security challenges. But INEC has the power to conduct elections including fixing dates of elections.
“The Council rose that INEC should then inform the nation as to their preparedness and proceed to conduct the elections.”
According to him the state council after the assurance by Jega asked the commission to go and performs its civic responsibility and advised INEC to liaise with security agencies to provide adequate security during the polls.
Mimiko on his part said “INEC had the benefit of input from council members and security chiefs and agencies.
“And based on the very exhaustive discussion and pieces of advice, INEC is constitutionally empowered with the basis of discussions to brief the nation and then the news will be communicated to you”.
Asked if the meeting discussed date shifts, the Ondo State Governor said, “Like I made it absolutely clear, I am not INEC Chief, INEC will appropriately brief you based on the meeting we just had. INEC is going to consult widely with stakeholders and come up with a decision that they will brief the nation soon.”
The meeting lasted over seven hours.