Gbenga Olawepo- Hashim is the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Trust (PT), the party endorsed by a coalition of civil society organisations also known as the Third Force. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he bares his mind on the postponement of the 2019 general elections by the Indepndent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Excerpts:
As one of the presidential candidates contesting in the 2019 general elections, how do you feel when INEC announced the postponement of the exercise?
Ordinarily, it will be disappointing because of the logistics problems and the stress it places on everyone; the electorates, stakeholders and so on. My appeal now is that INEC should get the next postponed date, which is February 23rd right. I wonder why they are in a haste to announce a new date. I thought they should have discussed with the stakeholders that will participate in the elections before they quickly fix another date. The election is not just for INEC. It’s for the voters; it’s for the parties who are nominating agents, who will be mobilising their members. Some of them may have to repeat the cost and the logistics that they have deployed already. So, INEC cannot arbitrarily postpone the election without consulting with the other stakeholders. What is important is that we should have a credible election and at the end of the day, our country is better for it.
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Some are accusing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari of being behind the postponement. Do you also share this view?
This is not the first time we are seeing this. We saw it under former President Olusegun Obasanjo. We saw it under Goodluck Jonathan. Even the election that produced President Buhari in 2015 was postponed by six weeks but Jonathan did not benefit from that postponement. I did not see how the postponement will benefit the incumbent President. But what is important is that INEC must not do things hastily. If they postpone for six weeks under Jonathan, why should it be one week now? Are they saying they would have gotten everything right by next week? So, whatever they have not done right now, can they to do it in one week? They need to do things properly so that we can have a credible election. So, I don’t believe President Buhari has anything to do with this. My belief is that INEC leadership should not put itself under unnecessary pressure. They should do their job properly and let’s have a credible election.