Nigeria postpones national elections at the last minute

National chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, on Saturday admitted that candidate of the All Progressives Congress, for Niger East Senatorial District, Senator Mohammed Musa, was a registered contractor with the commission. It was expected to be a tight race between President Muhammadu Buhari and the main opposition candidate, businessman and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Buhari said he was "deeply disappointed" after the electoral commission had "given assurances, day after day and nearly hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections".

INEC on Sunday, February 18, said smart card readers were being reconfigured to align with the new dates of election.

All sides have, however, appealed for calm in a country where past elections have been marred by violence and intimidation.

"Our decision was entirely taken by the commission".

Wife of the Nigerian President, Aisha Buhari, has applauded her husband for warning that death awaits anybody who foments trouble during the rescheduled general election.

Voters across Nigeria also said they were unhappy.

The US embassy in Nigeria urged Nigerians in a statement in Abuja to support INEC in its bid to conduct free, fair and credible elections in the country.

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. "INEC's leadership knew they were going to postpone and shared this information with the PDP not to waste their money, while telling us everything was well".

Bola Tinubu, has explained what he felt President Muhammadu Buhari meant by the directive given to security operatives to deal ruthlessly with political thugs who attempt to snatch ballot box during the elections.

Bismarck Rewane, economist and CEO of Lagos-based consultancy Finance Derivatives, said: "No matter who wins, it is now far more likely that the loser will contest the result and argue that the election has been compromised because sensitive materials are out there".

"You should have taken all these into account and announced this postponement at least 48 hours before the elections time, so that political parties don't have to mobilise resources across 176,000 Polling units".

  • Tracy Klein