The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Adewale Martins, has urged Nigerians to remain alert and ensure they fulfill their civic obligations by going out to vote on Feb. 23.
Martins spoke while reacting to the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday in Lagos.
He said the postponement, apart from the negative consequences on the socio-political and economic lives of the citizenry, had further dented the country’s image.
The cleric wondered why the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC arrived at the decision to suspend the elections late after several assurances to Nigerians of the commission’s preparedness to conduct free, fair and hitch-free elections.
“I join the rest of millions of well-meaning Nigerians to express my deep disappointment over the sudden postponement of the Feb.16, 2019 elections by INEC.
“The action is very regrettable and I consider it a serious betrayal of the confidence of millions of Nigerians who had prepared themselves to come out in their large numbers to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.
“This is most regrettable when one considers various implications of this postponement to many aspects of peoples’ lives.
“Apart from the huge sums of money that would have been lost due to the postponement, we can only imagine many inconveniences the decision would cause the citizens who have planned their weddings and other engagements to fit the election plans.
“Considering the amount of money made available to INEC, its promise of preparedness and the time at its disposal to put the necessary machineries in place, Nigerians certainly deserve an apology,” he said.
Martins implored the commission to do all that was necessary to redeem its image by ensuring that all identified lapses were corrected to forestall any future postponement.
“Nigerians deserve to go and vote without any conspiracy theories hunting them in their minds,” the cleric said.
The archbishop also advised the political class not to interfere with the logistics being put in place by INEC in order to allow the Commission a free hand to carry out its activities.
He said: “One is concerned about the safety of the sensitive materials that have already been dispatched to some of the states, especially in these days that fire outbreaks have been happening repeatedly in INEC’s facilities.
“We hope the security operatives would be on top of their games in safeguarding lives and property ahead of the newly scheduled elections.”
NAN reports that INEC postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23, while the governorship and state assembly elections are now scheduled for March 9. (NAN)