The National Council of State on Thursday reaffirmed the sole power of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to maintain or amend the election timetable. The council therefore refused to pressurise the INEC to shift the election dates despite calls from several quarters for the postponement of the polls.
The meeting, which was presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, lasted about seven hours. The council, at the end of the meeting, resolved that INEC should consider its advice and take necessary steps on the conduct of the election.
Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, alongside his Imo and Adamawa states counterparts, Rochas Okorocha and James Ngilari, noted that the council was essentially an advisory body, but the electoral body would brief the nation on its final decision.
Mimiko said the council essentially deliberated on the state of preparedness of INEC and provided the commission the benefit of input from council members and security chiefs and agencies.
“Based on the very exhaustive discussion and pieces of advice, INEC is constitutionally empowered to brief the nation and then the news will be communicated to you,” he said.
“INEC is going to consult widely with stakeholders and come up with a decision on which it will brief the nation soon.”
Mimiko observed that President Jonathan summoned the meeting to enable INEC brief the council on its preparedness, saying “based on what INEC briefed us and based on perception of council members and security agencies, INEC was properly advised and you will hear from INEC.”
Okorocha, in his remarks, said INEC had assured of its readiness for the election and had, therefore, been advised to perform its civic responsibility. He said the body had assured of its readiness for the election.
“National Council of State advised INEC to go and perform its civic responsibility, which is to conduct elections. That is what we agreed on.
“It was a very challenging moment and INEC has reaffirmed severally that it is ready, but because of concerns of security agencies in some few local governments, council asked INEC to go and perform its civic responsibilities, which is the conduct of elections.”
Asked if there was a decision on date change, he added that “there is no decision as to change of date, but the council has asked INEC to go and perform its responsibility.”
Former leaders of the country present at the meeting were General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Earnest Shonekan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The Senate President, David Mark was also present, as well as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; former Chief Justices of the Federation, Justice Alfa Belgore and Dahiru Musdapher.
State governors present were James Ngilari (Adamawa), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Rauf Aregebsola (Osun); Rochas Okorocha (Imo); Umaru Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa); Aliyu Wamako (Sokoto); Willie Obiano of Anambra and Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger.
Others were Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Idris Wada (Kogi), Rotimi Ameachi (Rivers), Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (Kaduna), Sullivan Chime (Enugu), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abubakar Yari (Zamfara) Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina.
Also present were Mimiko (Ondo); David Jang (Plateau); Liyel Imoke (Cross Rivers); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Isa Yuguda (Bauchi); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Adams Oshiomhole (Edo); Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); Ayo Fayose of Ekiti and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe.
Borno, Yobe, Abia and Oyo state governors were represented by their deputies. Taraba State acting governor, Danladi Abubakar, was present, while Benue, Ebonyi and Kebbi governors were neither present nor represented.
Chief of Defence Staff ( CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant -General Kenneth Minimah; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin; Admiral Adesola Amosu (Air Force); Suleiman Abba, Inspector-General of Police; Ita Ekpeyong, Director-General, SSS; National Security Adviser, Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, were also present.
Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, was the only living former Nigerian leader absent at the meeting.