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The postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled last Saturday 16th February, 2019 hit the nation, Nigerians and the International Community observers like a thunderbolt. While the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood had at different fora told Nigerians that the elections would hold as scheduled even when the Ruling party, APC demanded the postponement of elections in Zamfara and Rivers States after the Supreme Court affirmed the Appeal Court judgment excluding of APC candidates in their states, the Commission rebuffed APC threats and assured to go on with the Saturday elections.

The postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled last Saturday 16th February, 2019 hit the nation, Nigerians and the International Community observers like a thunderbolt. While the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood had at different fora told Nigerians that the elections would hold as scheduled even when the Ruling party, APC demanded the postponement of elections in Zamfara and Rivers States after the Supreme Court affirmed the Appeal Court judgment excluding of APC candidates in their states, the Commission rebuffed APC threats and assured to go on with the Saturday elections.


As a result, many state governors declared public holiday in their states to enable eligible voters to travel to their areas of registration. Nigerians nation-wide put finishing touches in terms of procurement of cash and foodstuffs.
Public and private schools were closed to re-open this week after voting, collation and announcement of results of the Saturday elections.
To the chagrin of Nigerians and foreign observers, the elections were not to be. Reasons anchored on logistics by the Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood were viewed as not enough, inconsequential, infantile, diversionary and reprehensible. To a section of Nigerians, INEC under Professor Mahmood is not independent but panders to Executive meddlesomeness and manipulation. We tend to believe this assertion. 
We have spoken and written against the fact that INEC, as constituted is acting a script and a stooge to the Presidency. Of course, he who pays the pipe dictates the tune. On inception of this administration, the President did not want to comply with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria he swore to uphold. He refused to build on the achievements of his predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan who held the election that brought Gen Muhammadu Buhari to power. Against the Federal Character Principle, Professor Yakubu Mahmood from the President Buhari's North was appointed.  Calls to reverse the appointment were met with stiff resistance. The Chairman of INEC became a tool against the main opposition party, PDP. All elections – bye-elections, House of Assembly, Senate and Representatives were skewed in favour of the ruling party. It was evident that the 2019 general elections are going to be muddled and endangered.
The Discourse Columns since 2015 in hundreds devoted attention to the preservation of democracy and creating awareness among Nigerians. For the avoidance of doubts, few are showcased to vindicate our position. Democracy on the precipice: The soldier ant in PMB, 28-30 June, 2016; Let the opposition party be, 12-15, February, 2016; INEC: The greatest threat to the nation's democracy consolidation, 19-21 April, 2016; 2019: PMB's worry real or imaginary? 29 Nov- 1 December 2016: Militarization of the polity and what it portends to our democracy, 19-21 January, 2016, who is a messiah? 17-20 August 2015; INEC, not God can be manipulated, 8th January 2019 among others exposed the follies, subterfuges and antics of the INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood to return PMB on the 16th February, 2019 Presidential election.
Although the INEC Chairman has apologized, called for calm and understanding over the postponement, millions of aggrieved Nigerians have rebuffed the reasons adduced for postponing the elections. Recall that for the fourth time, President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the amended electoral bill to sanitize the muddled electoral system. The resistance by the President for the reversal of the elections commencing with state elections proved that President Buhari has a sinister motive. The bill is for all political parties, not only for APC, but APC is afraid that in a free, fair and transparent Presidential election, PMB re-election would not sail through. If the President had assented the amended electoral bill and the 2019 general elections beginning with governorship and House Assembly elections, the Chairman of INEC and his Commissions would not have had any reason to postpone the elections. Now that the reverse is the case and that APC is eroding and corroding the functions of the Commission, the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections remains a blessing in disguise, an eye-opener to the intrigues, subterfuges and behind the scene strategy to undermine free, fair and credible election results. Granted that the opposition parties are already fagged out  financially, Nigerians too, there is the need for all to exercise patience, restraint, tolerance, and give encouragement to INEC to return to the drawing board to check manipulations. The rumour that INEC designed staggered elections should be seen as more of speculation than a reality. All elections on the 23rd February must hold in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory the same day.
Presently, the INEC Chairman is on edge, in a vice grip situation, in between the PDP and APC aggression. That APC a major beneficiary of INEC previous shoddy elections in Ekiti  and Osun States and now crucified by the same party is an act of God. Also confronting INEC and its integrity is the bogus ballot papers with 91 political parties symbols – a proliferation of political parties designed to whittle down the size and influence of the PDP.
The security agencies should go after mischief-makers and enemies of the nation's democracy. Those who are threatening Ndi-Igbo with campaigns of death plot because of identifying with the PDP Presidential candidate must know that choice and preference in elections are permitted by the nation's laws. The Presidential election is not between Buhari and Ndi-Igbo, but Buhari and Atiku. Igbos like any other ethnic groups are only exercising their constitutional obligation.
Between now and Saturday, the Presidency, the security agencies must be vigilant over war-mongering governors such as the governor of Kaduna state, Mallam El-Rufai who have watched Nigerians at the mercy of the Fulani herdsmen. They must be told that immunity is not eternity.
As a matter of truth, the postponement has left the image and sincerity of the Buhari-led federal government over the 2019 general election in tatters.
Whichever way the postponement of the election is viewed, the support base of APC, not PDP is caving and a dent on the so-called integrity of the President. Some argue that if the elections are postponed as many times, the re-election of PMB is a pipe dream judging from the livid reactions of Nigerians who wanted to use their PVCs to send PMB packing back home for not quitting honourably and when ovation is the loudest with one term.
Life is made up of  5 stages – birth, growth, maturity, decline and death. I am 57. Although vibrant and productive, at 57 I am not growing again. At maturity and on the decline, there are certain things I was doing with speed, vibrance and excellence in my 30s and 40s but reduced because of ageing. Life is a relay race and conscious of this fact of life, I am gradually relinquishing power and authority to my children. Ageing comes with different manifestations. On the decline, some lose sight, become hard of hearing. Others suffer amnesia and dementia. If at 57, we denounce ageing, either we are playing God or fast-tracking our extinction.
President Buhari, a septugenarian underwent hurdles to become President after three forlorn attempts, expectations were high that he would adopt the strategy of the South African President, late Nelson Mandela. Power is sweet but Nelson Mandela was not intoxicated with power.
He did not go after his traducers, even though, he had the money, the military and the police to hate and haunt his enemies. He had the media to disparage his enemies. But he forgot, forgave their trespasses in the national interest and the unity of South Africa in general. What stops President Buhari replicating the disposition of Mandela? To do so, he should have groomed any other candidate from the North-West since he considers his own zone so important.  Of all the governors, the Kaduna state governor, Mallam El-Rufai would have been in a position to accomplish what President Buhari is unable to achieve as a result of failing health and if he decides to play a statesmanship beyond the North, there are Southern governors in the good book of President Muhammadu Buhari. The foremost is the governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who is so enamoured by the achievements of the President nationwide in the last four years. Governor Okorocha's chance is bright because he distinguishes himself as the only governor from the South that has been privileged to be turbaned. Unfortunately, President Buhari did not see the wisdom in relinquishing power to any of his apologists. Maybe the cabals saw such move as defeatist.
Now that the chips are down, INEC should take up the gauntlet, resist intimidation from the ruling party so as to conduct free, fair and credible elections on the 23rd February, 2019. When before the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the behind the scene, Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari raised alarm that America, Britain and the European Union ganged up against the re-election of President Buhari, we began to sense ulterior motive and false alarm. When the governor of Kaduna state threatened to deal with foreign observers that they would return to their home countries in body bags, we wondered if truly Mallam El-Rufai passed through the crucible of education. Why would such threat issued when the same observers were here in 2015 to superintend over the election that dashed the second term ambition of former President Goodluck Jonathan? In addition, the threats by the military to IPOB and its alleged foreign collaborators not to interfere with the nation's general elections did not augur well for the image of the Armed Forces.
Once again, we implore the military, the Nigerian Police, Civil Defence and other sister security agencies to remain neutral and assist the Independent National Electoral Commission to deliver untainted general elections that will be adjudged better than 2015.
Finally, we commend the resolute determination and commitment of Nigerians, international friends and organizations in assisting INEC to deliver by insisting that the wish and choice of millions of Nigerians is not sabotaged.
Elections must not be seen as a do or die contest. Winners should celebrate responsibly and losers should be accommodated and cheered up for another election year 2023.
Sydney O. Madukwem, guest writer, Dile Emeohe, Mbaoma Emii Owerri LG. 07069123994.

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