Nigeria delays elections for one week

Original schedule ‘no longer feasible’ after review of logistics and operational plan, says electoral commission

Rafiu Oriyomi Ajakaye   | 16.02.2019
Nigeria delays elections for one week


By Rafiu Ajakaye 

LAGOS, Nigeria

Nigeria's electoral body has postponed the country's presidential and parliamentary elections for a week, citing “logistics and operational” reasons.  

The decision followed a meeting of top officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the capital Abuja amid reports that polling materials were not available in many states.  

Presidential and parliamentary polls had been scheduled to take place Saturday.  

Governorship and state assembly elections were scheduled for March 2 but have been pushed back to March 9.  

“Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible,” the body said in a statement early Saturday.  

“Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.  

“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,” it added. 

President Muhammadu Buhari said he was disappointed at the turn of events -- just hours before polling was due -- “despite the long notice given and our preparations”.  

Calling for calm and restraint on the part of the political class, Buhari said: “We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates." 

The main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) also condemned the delay and called for immediate resignation of the election body's chairman.

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