Nigeria’s federal government has declared today and tomorrow public holidays to enable voters to travel to their respective constituencies to register for upcoming elections. But supporters of Vice President Atiku Abubakar are upset with the announcement, especially since Nigeria’s supreme court was expected to hear arguments later today about the vice president’s disqualification case against the independent electoral commission.
John Odubela is one of the attorneys for Vice President Abubakar. From the capital Abuja, he told VOA via telephone that they are unhappy with the holiday announcement.
“It is too coincidental for one to feel that it was actually meant for the real public holiday, because I remember vividly that when we were about to register, we were asked by the same government to register where we work and where we live so that there would not be basis for us to travel to our villages and our towns when the elections come. So for the same government to now declare public holiday to enable us to go to our villages, is what we don’t understand,” he said.
Odubela said the federal government’s holiday announcement is suspicious.
“There are three very important cases coming up in the Supreme Court. Apart from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s case, even the case of the speaker of the River State who has challenged the substitution of his name is also coming up on Thursday at the Supreme Court. Also, the case of the appeal arising from the decision of the court of appeal when they reinstated Chief Joshua Dariye, the governor of Plateau State, is also coming up on Thursday,” Odubela noted.
He questioned the federal government’s rationale behind the holiday announcement.
“Even if you are going to declare public holidays, why two days? If at all, one would have thought that Friday, even half a day on Friday is enough. You see, we must get things quite right, why the public holiday on Thursday and Friday,” he questioned.
Odubela said the federal government did not give enough public notice about the holiday announcement.
“At least there should be enough notice. If government had designed that we will allow public holidays on Thursday and Friday, at least we ought to have known from the beginning of the week. If it was done in good faith, we would have had enough notice, not hours,” he pointed out.