Mixed reactions as INEC postpones Governorship, Assembly polls

  • Nigerians blame desperate politicians, bad losers
  • Postponement, a blessing in disguise for incumbents in battlegrounds – Analysts
  • INEC getting ready to rig again, PDP chieftain alleges


Uba Group

The announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission to shift the Governorship and House of Assembly elections from March 11 to March 18, 2023, has indeed triggered chains of reaction from the polity.

While a larger chunk of the reactions condemn, in very hard and unkind terms, the postponement, some others believe it is done to save the nation and the electoral body from greater danger and chaos.

Many of the reactions from the opposition parties berated the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, for the postponement, whereas pro-establishment stakeholders have striven to justify the shift.

Many berated INEC for its alleged ineptitude in handling the election process.

Following Wednesday’s ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System used for the Presidential election held on February 25, 2023, the Commission met to assess its impact on the Commission’s preparations for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, March 11, 2023.

A statement issued by the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye said, “Nigerians would recall that on 3rd March 2023, the Presidential EPT had given an ex- parte order for some political parties to inspect materials used for the Presidential election, including the forensic inspection of over 176,000 BVAS used in the election which are located in INEC LGA offices across the country.

“The Commission approached the Tribunal to reconsider the order, given that the BVAS Systems were to be deployed for the Governorship and State Assembly elections and that the lack of a clearly defined timeframe for the inspection could disrupt the Commission’s ability to conduct the outstanding elections. For instance, the BVAS can only be activated on the specific date and time of an election.

“Having been used for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on 25th February 2023, it is necessary to reconfigure the BVAS for activation on the date of the Governorship and State Assembly elections.”

Okoye further stated that while the ruling of the Tribunal made it possible for the Commission to commence the preparation of the BVAS for the Governorship and State Assembly elections, it had come far too late for the reconfiguration to be concluded.

“Consequently, the Commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to reschedule the Governorship and State Assembly elections which will now take place on Saturday, 18th March 2023. By this decision, campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday, 16th March 2023 i.e. 24 hours before the new date for the election.

“This decision has not been taken lightly but it is necessary 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 25th February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections. This has been the practice for all elections, including the period when the Commission was using the Smart Card Readers.

“However, we wish to reiterate that the Commission is not against litigants inspecting election materials. Consequently, it will continue to grant all litigants access to the materials they require to pursue their cases in court.

“We wish to reassure all political parties and candidates that the data from the Presidential and National Assembly elections will be backed up and available in INEC cloud facilities, including the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV). Political parties can apply for Certified True Copies of the backend data of the BVAS. Also, the results on the BVAS will continue to be available on the IReV for interested parties to access.

“We thank Nigerians and friends of Nigeria for their understanding as we continue to deal with these difficult issues and navigate these challenging times.”


Reacting to the development, some lawyers and politicians expressed divergent views to the postponement of the elections.

While some said it was the “right thing” for the electoral body to do in the circumstances the commission has found itself, others argued that it was “another” plan by INEC to manipulate the forthcoming exercise.


A lawyer, Hasim Abioye, told The Point in an interview that the postponement was to allow aggrieved political parties and presidential candidates to extract physical data directly from the BVAS before they are reconfigured.

Abioye said, “there has been some arguments about reconfiguration of the BVAS machines used for the election and INEC has gotten an order from the Court of Appeal to reconfigure the BVAS machines but the order has some variations and they are that those who have applied to inspect the electoral materials including the BVAS machines are allowed access to inspect those BVAS machines. That means that those BVAS machines cannot be reconfigured until there is an assurance that the direct data on them, not the one sent to wherever now, is safe and intact.

“So, anyone who wants to inspect the BVAS machines will have the opportunity of doing so and will have to extract physical data directly from them before the machines could be reconfigured. So, definitely, the INEC has done the right thing in the circumstances to postpone the election so that between the period, whatever inspection or information any party wants to get from the physical BVAS machines would have gotten them so that there would be enough time for INEC to reconfigure for the purpose of the election because BVAS is key, cardinal and central to the elections. You know it has been upgraded to the status of the Act itself by the substantive law, not mere guidelines now, not mere electoral guidelines. So, it’s a condition under the Act now that accreditation is necessary and mandatory by the BVAS machines. So, that means INEC has taken the right step by postponing the election.”

But, also speaking with The Point in an interview, a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party in Osun State, Isaiah Fayemi, said the shifting of the election date was a sign that INEC was not properly prepared for the poll and that it wanted to manipulate the exercise.

“The postponement of the election is a sign that INEC is not properly prepared for the job. Didn’t they think of the reconfiguration before they pick the dates initially? The dates for the elections have been given for almost a year now.

“It’s also a way to perfect the rigging perpetrated in the last presidential election,” Fayemi noted.

Other Nigerians lamented the postponement and described it as an elongation of their anguish over the scarcity of naira notes.

Some of them who spoke with The Point and those who expressed their displeasure on social media said the elections were the reason for the non-circulation of the naira and the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to redesign some naira notes.

They said they had been hoping that after this Saturday’s governorship and state assembly polls, cash would be made available for Nigerians to spend.

“Honestly, this is like stretching our pain. Someone like me has been hoping that after this weekend, I will be able to get enough cash from my bank. But, with this postponement now, we will have to suffer again for another one week,” a Nigerian who simply identified himself as Gbemi, said.

Also reacting to the issue of cash crunch, Hasim Abioye said, “Some Nigerians have thought that there would be some reprieve after the election might have come and gone this Saturday. You can’t convince Nigerians that the cash crunch and anguish being faced has nothing to do with the election. But, whatever it is, ultimately, Nigerians are waiting that the conundrum will be over some day. So, to so many Nigerians, it’s like elongating their pain.”

Law Mefor, a social commentator and political analyst said, “Prof Mahmood Yakubu let himself and Nigerians down in a terrible manner when he conducted the presidential election. He deliberately abandoned electronic transmission of results as required by the Electoral Act 2022, particularly section 64 (4). The collation or returning is required by that section to compare the transmitted results directly from the polling units and the copy brought to the collation centre.

“This is to ensure there is no falsification leading to inflation or deflation of results, judging the accredited number of voters in the polling unit. This is the only difference between Electoral Act 2010 and Electoral Act 2022. INEC and CSOs fought for it and thankfully, the President signed it into law. Yet Prof Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC abandoned the Electoral Act 2022, and did manual collation after fraudulently shutting down INEC IReV.

“There is no doubt it was deliberate and not a glitch as they wanted us to believe. If it was not deliberately done, INEC would have raised an alarm when it occurred. Rather it took the Commission over 12 hours to respond with a terse press statement. Furthermore, Prof Mahmood Yakubu refused to take the window of one to two weeks offered by the Electoral Act to review complaints. More importantly, Mahmood promised thrice to review the complaints once done with collation.

“He didn’t keep that promise, the same way he didn’t keep the promise on electronic transmission of results to keep them real-time. Where then is his Professorate and patriotism? Today, he went to the Court of Appeal to get permission to reconfigure BVAS. He got it, but not exactly. The Court of Appeal is wise. It says reconfigure as long as the contents of the BVAS will remain intact. Mahmood would want the permission to erase the presidential election data.

“Now, the Court of Appeal is saying whatever you do, don’t tamper with the data. In other words, INEC can reconfigure as long as the data is unaffected. I smiled at that. I knew postponement was inevitable because INEC would have to produce the backbone to back up the data.

“If they don’t do this, some INEC officials could be headed to jail and the presidential election cancelled if INEC fails to produce the materials upon which they based Bola Tinubu’s victory. This ruling gave me hope that law will prevail in this presidential election, not politics and technicalities as is often the case”.