The Oba of Benin , Omo N ’Oba N ’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II , on Thursday asked eligible voters not be discouraged by the shift in the dates of the general elections , but to come out en masse to vote on Saturday.
The INEC National Chairman , Prof . Mahmood Yakubu , had in the early hours of February 16 , announced the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections to February 23 , 2019 .
He also announced a shift in the governorship, state house of assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections from March 2 to March 9 .
Yakubu attributed the shift to logistics and operational challenge, an action which drew the ire of many — both within and outside the country — coming hours to the opening of the polls .
Ahead of the rescheduled polls , the Benin royal father has , however , asked the electorate to put their disappointment behind and come out en masse to vote for candidates of their choice in the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday .
The monarch, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary , Mr Desmond Agbama, on Thursday in Benin , urged eligible voters not to be discouraged by the postponement , but to renew their hope and zeal to participate in the exercise .
He reminded the people that voting is their civic responsibility to the nation , urging them to do so wisely and not allow any primordial sentiments to becloud their sense of judgment .
The Omo N’ Oba cautioned youths against being used as thugs by politicians to disrupt the electoral process .
He also called on security agencies to be neutral while performing their duties on election day and to refrain from intimidation and harassment of voters .
“At this critical moment in the nation ’s political journey , the Independent National Electoral Commission must prove itself as an unbiased electoral umpire in the conduct of the 2019 general election , ’’ the monarch added .
He reiterated that the Benin Crown remains non- partisan , hence a level playing ground was provided for all politicians to campaign and canvass for votes , irrespective of political parties.
Oba Ewuare II prayed to God and the ancestors for peaceful , free and fair 2019 general elections .
( NAN )