Nigeria election: Disappointment and anger over poll delay

Northern southern leaders endorse Atiku Abubakar

Just five hours before polling stations were due to open in Nigeria, the country's presidential election was cancelled and rescheduled for next weekend.

23rd February 2019 has been announced as the new date for the polls.

Real reasons emerged on Saturday on why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the February 16 and March 2 elections.

It was leant that following the refusal of the key leaders of the INEC Election Management Board to comply with the option of staggered presidential elections, the forces made a decision to reach a number of staff of the commission, who were said to have colluded in frustrating the delivery of sensitive items at the different states of the federation.

The chairman of the main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondu, said the move was "dangerous to our democracy and unacceptable".

President Muhammadu Buhari said he was "deeply disappointed" and appealed to Nigerians to "refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development". It urged Nigerians to remain calm and turn out in greater numbers a week from now. "You can dissolve anything I said about Nigeria Elections before". Voters have reacted with disappointment and outrage. I had already gone out to cast my vote only to be told on the way about the suspension.

So why was voting postponed?

"It has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence, nothing to do with availability of resource", he added.

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He said the delay came "after a careful review of the implementation of the logistics and operational plans and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections".

In the past two weeks several Inec offices have been set alight, with thousands of electronic smart card readers and voter cards destroyed.

An altar boy swings the thurible of incense during a morning service at the Saint Charles Catholic Church, the site of a 2014 bomb attack blamed on Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, in the predominantly-Christian neighborhood of Sabon Gari in Kano, northern Nigeria Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019.

But there are concerns that the decision could lead to a low turnout.

Yakubu, who has earlier maintained the electoral body was "good to go" for Saturday's vote, said the delay was "good for our democracy and for our country".

The PDP in a statement by its State Publicity Secretary, Dr Ifeanyi Osuoza said; "Our thorough investigations reveal that the first ploy in the uncovered series of stratagems to tinker with the February 23 and March 9th elections, is a deceptive tactic created to make President Buhari and the APC candidates gain the upper hand through the underhand manipulation of pre-loading and stuffing of the Card Readers before accreditation with pre-determined names of fictitious voters".

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