FLASHBACK: How Buhari reacted to election postponement under Jonathan in 2015
Postponement of elections few weeks or days to the scheduled time by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not new to the Nigerian electorates.
It happened in 2011 and also in 2015 during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and under the chairmanship of Prof. Atairu Jega.
The incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari was the leading opposition candidate under the newly amalgamated All Progressives Congress (APC) then.
When INEC in 2015 postponed the general elections by six weeks barely six days to the initial scheduled date, President Muhammadu Buhari heavily criticised the commission.
Buhari also criticised the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government of systematic rigging.
Like it happened Saturday (today), February 16, when the elections are supposed to be conducted, the election umpire also on February 8, 2015, six days away, postponed the February 14 presidential election by six weeks citing insecurity.
The elections commission chief, Attahiru Jega, said the delay until 28 March was necessary because of heightened insecurity that could affect the safety of election personnel, voters and materials, especially in the troubled North-east region.
Few days to the election when it started becoming clear that it would be postponed, Buhari criticised the commission for considering postponement. Notwithstanding, Buhari made history by defeating an incumbent when the elections were later conducted on March 28, 2015 instead of the initial February 8, 2015.
After the latest postponement under Buhari as president, the video of his interview was re-circulated by Channel 4 News.
“It took INEC one month to work out…I see no reason why we should postpone it,” Mr Buhari said when asked by the planned postponement of 2015.
“There are 14 local governments where there is (security) problem; 10 in Borno, two in Your, two in Adamawa. And there and 774 local governments in Nigeria. Should we postpone the election because of 14 local governments?”
The president had then suggested that even with Boko Haram onslaught, the electoral umpire ought to go ahead.
“Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria were fighting wars and they conducted elections, what is Boko Haram?” he said, dismissing the reporter.
Buhari, however, asked his supporters to take advantage of the postponement to further mobilise support among Nigerians.
Buhari also accused PDP of engineering the postponement to avoid a defeat; but appealed for calm among his supporters.
“It is important to note that although INEC acted within its constitutional powers, it is clear that it has been boxed into a situation where it has had to bow to pressure. Thus, the independence of INEC has been gravely compromised,” he said.
Meanwhile, INEC on Saturday morning postponed the presidential and national assembly elections giving logistics challenges as reasons.
The announcement was made at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, few hours to the commencement of the polls.
The new dates for the elections are February 23 for presidential and national assembly elections and March 9 for governorship and state assemblies elections.
Yakubu said further details of the postponement would be disclosed at a conference scheduled for 2:00 p.m., Saturday.
Reacting to the postponement, President Buhari on Saturday said he was “deeply disappointed” by the latest postponement. He however urged Nigerians to be calm and peaceful.
In similar vein, main opposition candiate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has also called for calm amongst his supporters. He also alleged disenfranchisement of his supporters by the Buhari-led government.