The announcement by the Independent Electoral Commission INEC of the postponement of governorship and state Assembly elections earlier scheduled for Mach 11, 2023 to March 18, 2023 has thrown election related plans and schedules of the political parties and voters into disarray. Yet, some opportunity for gain have also emerged
The election postponement, followed protest by the People’s Democratic Party PDP and Labour Party of the February 25, 2023 Presidential election outcome, which was declared won by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Following the institution of legal processes against the pronouncement by the People’s Democratic Party, Labour Party and a few others against the election outcome, the Presidential Election Tribunal ordered INEC to allow the aggrieved parties inspect all electoral materials. including the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS.
INEC in a statement dated 8 March, 2023 and signed by Festus Okoye, National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, stated that following the Election Tribunal order for inspection of material, it required extra time to reconfigure the BVAS as the BVAS could only be activated on the dated configured for the election stating that “Having been used for the Presidential and National Assembly election on February 25, 2023, it is necessary to reconfigure the BVAS for activation on the date of the Governorship and State Assembly elections.”
Adding further that, “The commission has taken the difficult, but necessary decision to rescheduled the governorship and State Assembly elections to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 25, 2023 and the reconfigure them for the governorship and State Assembly elections.”
The postponement comes with opportunity and costs for stakeholders across board. The political parties have been granted opportunity to deepen their campaigns and engagement with their supporters as well as, canvass for votes across more local government areas and communities in the country.
Hon. Iyk Oji, Campaign Director for the Accord in Rivers State whose governorship candidate, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs enjoys wide popularity, noted that, “the postponement of the Governorship and State Assembly election comes with some advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, the extra week granted gives us more time to meet supporters and potential voters in communities we were unable to visit before this time.” But there are challenges in view of the extra expenses that we have incurred visiting, campaigning in more communities.”
Apart from the political parties, individuals also noted the cost of the postponement on their businesses and personal activities.
Barisin Lekia who runs a small pharmacy in Rumuigbo in Port Harcourt noted that, ‘the elections coming against the reality of the challenging Naira Swap issues, is that life and business are somewhat in limbo.
We would like to see the elections come to an end. The extra week keeps us longer in a state of limbo, people are not spending much also, as a result of the cash crunch in the country. I wish the election to be concluded so that, we would know where things are with who will govern my state Rivers, for example. And also for the government to make a statement on how we will get our money trapped in the banks’.
Asked if she will go out to vote, ‘Sure. Change is coming. I have never felt this empowered since I started voting in 2011. I was disappointed with the outcome of the Presidential Election. But, I know that the God we serve, will not allow the ordinary person continue to suffer in this state and in Nigeria’.
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