2015: INEC’s Timetable Hit Us Unexpectedly, Says Presidency… Denies Influencing Jega

Ben-ObiThe presidency has dismissed as false, comments that it influenced the scheduling of the 2015 general elections time-table released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, last week, saying it received the news with surprise like every other Nigerian.

Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State Monday, accused the Presidency of influencing the electoral umpire to schedule the presidential election first so as to create a ‘bandwagon effect’ in subsequent elections in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Kwankwaso was one of the governors that defected from PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

“I don’t know how they influenced the Independent National Electoral Commission to put this election and National Assembly election first and then two weeks after, they’ll do House of Assembly and governorship elections. I think the presidential election should come last”, the Kano governor was quoted as saying.

But reacting to the allegation, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, said the Presidency had allowed INEC to perform its duties without interference hence the presumption by Kwankwaso and others with same views was wrong.

The presidential aide said: “They (INEC) have a constitutional responsibility to take care of elections. It is that responsibility they have adhered to. For me, it is part of the transformation agenda that those who are given responsibilities to perform do so without let or hindrance.

“That is what the (Professor Attahiru) Jega-led INEC has done. Nobody was expecting it. If anybody was saying that they were under some influence that person is wrong in his presumption.

“It is the independent nature of the various organisations under this administration that is coming to play. We must thank the President for making sure that these organisations have a free atmosphere to function”.
On the argument in some quarters that the time table was released a little too early as the 2015 elections are still 13 months away, Senator Obi said: “It is their (INEC) responsibility to put out dates for elections, declare dates for campaigns, among others, that is what they have done.  Don’t forget they did that under a retreat. All of them cannot be making a mistake at the same time”.

On whether putting the presidential election first would not create a bandwagon effect in favour of the ruling party as alleged, Obi  said the argument was misplaced as previous elections had not followed any strict order.

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