Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson on Monday warned of a looming major constitutional crisis in the country if the elections failed to hold as rescheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Dickson, who briefed journalists in Government House, Yenagoa, following the postponement of the initially scheduled poll by INEC, said there was a need for all stakeholders to work collectively to avert the crisis.
To avert looming succession crisis, Dickson suggested that President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately convene an expanded emergency meeting of the National Council of State.
He said the meeting should have the service chiefs, INEC, political party leaders and their candidates and other major stakeholders in attendance.
He said the stakeholders in the meeting should resolve on the new date for the postponed elections adding that INEC was wrong to have unilaterally chosen next Saturday for the rescheduled poll.
He cautioned leaders against name-calling appealing to them to work in the interest of the country to avoid plunging Nigeria into avoidable succession crisis.
He said it was unpatriotic for anyone to be calling for the removal of the INEC chairman adding that the country would be on a crossroad if two critical institutions of INEC and the Supreme Court were undergoing crisis at the same time.
He said: ”This postponement belittled our country. It doesn’t show us as a serious country. Unless all stakeholders drop the habit of name-calling and claiming to be rights, we are moving close to a major constitutional crisis.
“If anything should go wrong, we will have a full-blown crisis; crisis of succession at a time the Supreme Court is also undergoing crisis. We should not call for the removal of the INEC chairman. If INEC is in crisis and the Supreme Court is in crisis, I don’t know where we are headed.
“I call on President Muhammadu Buhari as the leader of the country to convene an emergency meeting of the National Council of states to enable service chiefs and the INEC brief stakeholders on their preparations.
“The meeting should involve the political party chairmen with the presidential candidates to examine the developing scenario which may plunge our country into crisis. I believe that if we all sit down and know the circumstances, we should agree on a new date.
“I disagree with INEC unilateral announcement of Saturday as a new date. I do not believe that all the challenges that INEC has can be resolved within six days. A more sensible approach is needed. Our nation cannot afford another postponement”.
The governor recalled that few hours to the postponed elections, Bayelsa did not have ballot papers for Presidential elections and stamps to authenticate votes.
“Even now I am told there are issues of unserialised ballot papers”, he said adding that stakeholders expected customization of electoral materials.
The governor further commended Buhari for calling on security agencies to deal ruthlessly with troublemakers during the election.
He said by such presidential directive, security agencies should no longer be encumbered from doing their jobs without fear or favour.
He particularly appealed to security agencies to ensure the application of the directive in Bayelsa especially in areas like Ekeremor and Brass where he said some known political figures had been fomenting troubles.
Dickson further called on the electorate to maintain their momentum and not to be discouraged by the postponement.
He also disagree with INEC on suspension of campaigns saying that his party would continue to engage the people in accordance with the established law of the land.
Dickson, who insisted that it was unfortunate INEC postponed the poll despite all the preparations in the state including declaring a two-day holiday, asked all stakeholders to work against further shift.
He said: “We condemn the postponement. We thought that INEC should have had enough time and resources to have been able to plan this exercise. It was the most important date on their calendar.
“We thank the people of the state across all parties especially the voters who heeded our calls to go home to cast their votes. We share in their pains and anger and we are sympathetic. It is a trying period.
“It shows the need for us too build strong institutions and support the growth of institutions. We commend the security agencies. We were monitoring development there was no major breach.
“Any time the elections are held I think they will be able to do better. I am not surprised that the reasons given did not bother on security. I have summoned a security meeting to enable me know all the issues”.