On Thursday, 12th February, 2015, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) called a press conference, reiterating that Nigeria and its elective governance is imperiled as a result of the postponement of the elections. The elections scheduled for 14th and 28th February were postponed following the refusal of the Military authorities to guarantee security for the elections, while "evoking dark memories of past military dictatorships". As a result, the CSOs say various constitutional and political challenges have been thrown up.
The CSOs believe that the postponement of the election for whatever reason, "will undermine whatever modicum of legitimacy the electoral process still has, and may ultimately be the trigger for massive unrest, violence and armed conflict". The CSOs also noted that "since the announcement of the pronouncement, Nigeria has effectively been in a state of suspended animation". It has had a negative effect on our economy, politics and society. The economic costs are mounting. There is a compounding drop in oil price. The Naira has lost 25% of its value, going from N160: $1 in October 2014 to N200: $1 at the interbank as at 11th February.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spent $5b in the last quarter to defend the Naira, but this is unsustainable. Our foreign reserves have dropped significantly in the past few months. The CBN lacks resources to defend the Naira. The cost of living will definitely go up. The value of earnings will reduce, and inflation will rise. This will undoubtedly result in widespread labour and industrial unrest.
The CSOs say that of all the threats, the most critical now is the crisis of legitimacy. Section 132(2) and 178(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) clearly states that an election shall be held "not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office". As such, elections cannot happen later than 29th April, 2015. Therefore, the election dates of 28th March and 11th April 2015 cannot be moved.
The following are the demands of the CSOs via the Situation Room:
*The National Assembly, as the hub of democracy, should join in protecting our hard won democracy to ensure elections hold on the 28th of March and 11th April.
*All judges must respect the Constitution and wishes of the Nigerian people by maintaining their independence and integrity.
*The security agencies should be no non-partisan and respect the rights of all Nigerians and the decisions of INEC.
*The political parties should communicate to their followers that Nigeria cannot afford another postponement.
*The media should report election matters objectively
*Religious leaders should encourage their members to peacefully participate.
*Nigerian citizens should shun violence.
*The President of Nigeria has no constitutional power to remove the Chairman of INEC.
*The international community should continue to support Nigeria's democratic journey.