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Implications of Edo Gov Poll Postponement | Punch


The reason given by the police for the postponement bordered on security. It had nothing to do with the ability of the police or other security agencies to prevent security threats either at the state or national level.

Prevention, as they say, is better than cure. Nigerians have witnessed, in the past, loss of innocent lives and property during elections. The last general election was postponed by some weeks due to security challenges in the North-East.

We should allow the police to do their work; this would prevent a possible breakdown of law and order. The postponement should not be a problem as it was not the first time election was postponed in the country for security reasons.

Dr. Junaid Mohammed (Ex-lawmaker)

The events that led to the postponement of the Edo governorship election were unfortunate. Interestingly, the Independent National Electoral Commission was blackmailed by the Nigeria Police Force. I am particularly worried over the involvement of the Department of State Services in the blackmail.

I think the security threat was just an alibi. What is certain is that the shift is not in the interest of the country or the people of Edo State. We understand that thousands of police officers were deployed to provide security. That was in addition to the heavy presence of soldiers. We should also remember that there is a brigade in Benin City.

Frankly, I don’t think Nigerians would believe the reason that was given for the postponement. The responsibility of conducting elections rests on INEC. Nobody, not even the President, has the power to advise that the election should be postponed.

Obviously, we are reaping the tragedy of the decision by a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), who used insecurity to blackmail INEC into postponing the presidential election so that his party could gain an advantage. Dasuki became openly partisan. I find such an act extremely abominable.

Security was certainly not the reason why the Edo election was postponed. And the postponement was an invitation to anarchy. We cannot blame the postponement on the poor capacity of the police. The support of the armed forces and paramilitary organisations was enough to foil any security threat.

The DSS and the police should be ashamed because they acted in a manner that was not befitting of their constitutional mandate.

Anthony Adefuye (Secretary, Yoruba Unity Forum)

The noise generated by the postponement of the Edo governorship election is unnecessary. It was not the first time an election was postponed in Nigeria for security reasons. The last general election was postponed for a similar reason.

We cannot question the competence of the Nigeria Police Force on the basis of the postponement. Security threat does not necessary mean an imminent attack. It could be as a result of a logistic gap.

Emeka Ononamadu (Human rights activist)

The Nigeria Police Force embarrassed the nation by using security to blackmail INEC to postpone the election three days before an election that was fixed six months earlier. My understanding is that if a security threat is uncovered, the police should tackle it. The postponement has cost the country billions of naira.

The postponement is a clear indication that the police lack the desirable capacity. The controversy generated is a clear testimony that the police and the other security agencies are part of election malpractices in the country.

We are aware that some senior security officials were retired or dismissed over the roles they played in the last general election. But it appears that the current administration has yet to learn to do things differently. A similar scenario played out during the botched senatorial rerun in Imo State, where the election was postponed in a controversial manner.

If, indeed, Edo State was a target for an attack and the police and the DSS could not uncover that before the President visited, then we are in trouble. If the huge number of policemen and soldiers deployed could not secure the state, then Nigeria is in a serious problem.

John Aina (Human rights lawyer)

The fact that the police cited a security threat as the reason for advising that the election be postponed is a testimony that the police are not capable of discharging their duty as stipulated in Section 4 of the Police Act of 1979. The force has remained underfunded and not fit for its purpose. This is ironical when you consider the billions of naira budgeted for security yearly. It is disheartening that the fear of terrorism is used as an excuse for an institutional failure.

The way forward is the reorganisation of the force for efficiency. The excuse by the police as regards the Edo election should fuel the debate on state policing. The existing structure of the NPF is defective; it is high time we restructured it.

Ibrahim Zikirullahi (Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education/ex-ED, Transition Monitoring Group)

I am unimpressed by the claim by the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services. It beats the imagination that the two security agencies have no problem in trumpeting their inability to secure just one state during an election.

The NPF and the DSS have sent a clear message that the country is weak and that they would always back down when confronted with real or imagined threat.

If the 2015 general election could hold in the North-East at the height of the Boko Haram insurgency, the security agencies have a lot to explain on the issue as regards the Edo poll postponement.

Even the mode of communicating their piece of security advice to INEC was very untidy. And this points to the fact that the security agencies need to be overhauled to make them accountable.

Okechukwu Nwanguma (Ex-member, Steering Committee, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria)

The President should come out of this issue clean; he should distance himself from the absurdity by directing the police and the DSS to remain neutral. Otherwise, the President would be blamed for allowing politicians to manipulate national security for political gains. Such a manipulation is capable of causing a political crisis.

The police need to inspire Nigerians rather than further erode public confidence in their competence to provide security to all citizens.

The postponement could not be about security. The assistance of the military should have been sought as was done during previous elections. But the truth is that there was more to the postponement than security issues.

The ruling party cannot claim that it was not part of the blackmail. Perhaps, it wanted more time to work on the electorate in the state. That is understandable as the All Progressives Congress has lost its popularity.

Niyi Akintola (Senior Advocate of Nigeria)

I don’t know why the postponement of the Edo governorship poll is generating issues. This is not the first time election would be postponed for security reasons. The 2015 presidential poll was postponed by six weeks for similar reasons. Election was also shifted in Rivers State twice. In Gombe State, election was shifted for security reasons.

The implication of this is that our security operatives are not trained to combat security challenges. They are not prepared to protect the country. We do not have a security apparatus that can be relied upon.

Beyond election, we must equip the Nigeria Police Force to be able to combat security threats. We are not serious about policing. How could we expect the governors to equip the police but dismiss state policing?

In terms of the number of personnel and equipment, the NPF is not ready to protect the country.

We did not realise how poorly equipped the military was until Boko Haram emerged. We only realised that our arsenal was empty when Boko Haram started bombing the North. That is how terrible we are in terms of security. We must beef up our security in terms of armoury and personnel.

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