Nigerian election postponed

The parliamentary and presidential election in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, has been delayed from its original Feb. 16th date. The electoral commission claims that the delay was forced by “logistical problems”.

Reports state that the delay cost the economy $1.5bn (£1.15bn), according to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The electoral commission did not seem worried by this cost incursion.

In a statement, Mahmoud Yakubu, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, stated that, “This was a difficult decision for the commission to take, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.”

However, comments from opposition party leaders are casting doubt on the legitimacy of the “logistical problems” claims.

“With several of their rigging options failing, they have to force INEC to agree to a shift in the election or a staggered election with flimsy excuses pre-manufactured for the purpose,” People’s Democratic Party  Chairman Uche Secondus said.

According to Idayat Hassan, from Abuja-based think tank, the Centre for Democracy and Development, the week-long extension is too brief to have a significant influence on the result of the presidential vote.

Election controversy and postponement is not soxmething new to Africa’s most populous country. In 2015 the general elections were delayed over a month, with the result being the first time an incumbent president lost.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan spoke about election postponements in 2015, saying that they are unacceptable.

“This thing doesn’t make any sense,” Jonathan said. “How can an electoral commission wake up on the day of the election and say it cannot hold those elections? How are we sure they are not playing games?”

In 2011 the presidential election was postponed by a week but was heralded by the United States State department as “successful” and a “substantial improvement” over the 2007 election despite admitting that vote rigging, and fraud took place.

President Muhammadu Buhari has attempted to distance himself from claims of attempted election fraud by saying he, “ordered the police and military to be ruthless with vote-riggers” and “Anybody who decides to snatch (ballot) boxes or use thugs to disturb it (the vote) – maybe this will be the last unlawful action he will take.”

Apprehension of election turbulence stems from the controversial 2007 presidential and parliamentary election. In the election, the ruling party won 26 of 32 states as well as  the presidency, in a fashion that “deeply troubled” the US State Department, calling the election polls “flawed”.

The election will now be scheduled for Saturday Feb. 23rd, a full week after its original date. Some African political pundits are uncertain that the Feb. 23rd date will happen.

“It’s in doubt because one has to be realistic given the enormity of the activities that are supposed to be taken care of,” said Former Vice-President of The Gambia Fatoumata Tambajang according to the BBC.