Nigeria vote delay condemned

The electoral commission in Nigeria this weekend postponed the election five hours before it was due to start.

18 February 2019 | Africa

Nigeria's top candidates on Saturday condemned the last-minute decision to delay the presidential election for a week until February 23, blaming each other but appealing to Africa's largest democracy for calm.

The decision, announced just five hours before polls were to open, is a costly one. Authorities now must decide what to do with already delivered voting materials in a tense atmosphere where some electoral facilities in recent days have been torched.

Electoral commission chairperson Mahmood Yakubu told surprised observers, diplomats and others that the delay had nothing to do with insecurity or political influence. He blamed “very trying circumstances” including bad weather affecting flights and the fires at three commission offices in an apparent “attempt to sabotage our preparations”.

If the vote had continued as planned, polling units could not have opened at the same time nationwide. “This is very important to public perceptions of elections as free, fair and credible,” Yakubu said, adding that as late as 02:00 they were still confident the election could go ahead.

The new February 23 election date is “without equivocation” final, he said. Nigeria's election process is a sprawling affair with over 23 000 candidates for various posts and more than 84 million registered voters.

Some bitter voters in the capital, Abuja, and elsewhere who travelled home to cast their ballots said they could not afford to wait another seven days, and warned that election apathy could follow. Some anguished over rescheduling weddings, exams and other milestones, along with those in Nigeria's vast diaspora who had returned home to vote.

The party backing top opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar accused President Muhammadu Buhari's administration of “instigating this postponement” with the aim of ensuring a low turnout. Its statement urged Nigerians to turn out in greater numbers a week from now.

Abubakar, speaking to reporters outside his home in northern Adamawa state, urged calm. “We will overcome this. You can postpone an election, but you cannot postpone destiny,” he later tweeted. A party spokesperson in Delta state in the restive south said the commission “has destroyed the soul of Nigeria with this act”.

Buhari said he was “deeply disappointed” after the electoral commission had “given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.” His statement appealed for calm and stressed that his administration does not interfere in the commission's work.

A spokesperson for Buhari's campaign committee, Festus Keyamo, accused Abubakar's party of causing the delay to create a “breather” and try to slow the president's momentum.

One ruling party campaign director in Delta state, Goodnews Agbi, told The Associated Press it was better to give the commission time to conduct a credible vote instead of rushing into a sham one “that the whole world will criticise later.”

Frustrated voters gathered in the capital. “I am not happy, and I'm very, very angry,” Yusuf Ibrahim said. A civic group monitoring the election, the Situation Room, blasted the “needless tension and confusion” and called on political parties to avoid incitement and misinformation.

Nigeria's more than 190 million people anticipate a close race between Buhari and Abubakar, a billionaire former vice president. Both have pledged to work for a peaceful election even as supporters, including high-level officials, have caused alarm with vivid warnings against foreign interference and allegations of rigging.

When Buhari came to power in 2015 - after a six-week election delay blamed on extremist insecurity - he made Nigerian history with the first defeat of an incumbent president. The election was hailed as one of the most transparent and untroubled ever in Africa's most populous country, which has seen deadly post-vote violence in the past.

Now Buhari could become the second incumbent to be unseated. This election is a referendum on his record on insecurity, the economy and corruption, all of which he has been criticized by some Nigerians for doing too little too slowly.

NAMPA/AP

Similar News

 

Namibian companies consider AfCFTA boon

2 months ago - 19 November 2019 | Africa

CATHERINE SASMANNamibia recently signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) that could potentially unlock the massive African market of 1.2 billion people as the...

Small burial for Mugabe

3 months ago - 30 September 2019 | Africa

The body of Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe was buried on Saturday in his rural village of Kutama, an AFP reporter at the scene said.The...

Another dos Santos falls

3 months ago - 30 September 2019 | Africa

One year ago, the dos Santos family handed the Angolan presidency over to Joao Lourenco. The new president promised to tackle corruption which crippled the...

South Africans are not xenophobic

4 months ago - 17 September 2019 | Africa

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised for the violent attacks by South Africans against nationals of other African countries, saying South Africans are not...

Mugabe: Hero or zero?

4 months ago - 16 September 2019 | Africa

Some believe the late Robert Mugabe was thrown into the dustbin of history when he was deposed as president of Zimbabwe in 2017, yet many...

Mugabe: Liberation hero turned despot

4 months ago - 06 September 2019 | Africa

Robert Mugabe, who has died aged 95, used repression and fear to hold on to power in Zimbabwe for 37 years until he was finally...

Namibia urges vigilance after SA attacks

4 months ago - 03 September 2019 | Africa

The Namibian High Commission in South Africa has issued an advisory, urging countrymen and women in and around the Gauteng Province to be vigilant following...

Strengthening news from the sub-region

5 months ago - 20 August 2019 | Africa

The Southern African Broadcasting Association (Saba), in partnership with the national broadcasters of countries in the region, officially commissioned the Eye on SADC news programme...

Bureau Veritas inspires

5 months ago - 16 August 2019 | Africa

Bureau Veritas Southern Africa, the global leader in testing, inspection and certification, continues to spark interest in the southern African professional working environment. The company...

SADC condoles with Tanzania after fuel tanker...

5 months ago - 11 August 2019 | Africa

Outgoing SADC chair President Hage Geingob has extended condolences to the government and people of Tanzania over the victims of a fuel tanker explosion, which...

Latest News

Gome hopes to revive career

22 hours ago | Sports

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa Brave Warriors midfielder and former Cape Umoya United player Wangu Gome is eager to find a club. The midfielder has been without...

Sex crimes exposed

22 hours ago | Crime

The sleepy town of Rehoboth is finding itself in the middle of an unfolding #MeToo storm following the arrest of a retired teacher for the...

Charred remains of girl not...

22 hours ago | Crime

The burnt body of a girl aged between seven and 10 found in a garbage skip in Windhoek North on Saturday has not yet been...

Pupils can return to school...

22 hours ago | Short News

Max Makushe Senior Secondary School's 1 200 pupils, who were last week released from attending classes because of damaged hostel cooking pots and cold storage...

Adapt or die

22 hours ago | Opinion

There is a sense of frustration and anger in our nation that keeps growing. The realities faced by many youth, especially those who are unemployed,...

NSC preaches accountability

22 hours ago | Sports

The Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) says 2020 will be a year of accountability and activity implementation, with many events on the sporting calendar.This was the...

A cursed football nation

22 hours ago | Sports

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa I was hoping for a better year in the football fraternity but it appears as if we are...

Nienaber named new Springbok coach

22 hours ago | Sports

Jacques Nienaber was named the new Springbok coach on Friday as part of a revised coaching panel that will report directly to Rassie Erasmus, South...

Rössing marathon next month

22 hours ago | Sports

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa Athletes from all works of life are gearing up to participate in the annual Rössing national marathon championship, slated for...

Load More