Mostly sunny. Hot.

7 day
  • Saturday 20-33°c Mostly sunny. Hot. Mostly sunny. Hot.
    Sunday 20-32°c More sun than clouds. Hot. More sun than clouds. Hot.
    Monday 22-33°c More sun than clouds. Hot. More sun than clouds. Hot.
    Tuesday 23-33°c Morning clouds. Hot. Morning clouds. Hot.
    Wednesday 22-31°c More sun than clouds. Warm. More sun than clouds. Warm.
    Thursday 22-31°c Morning clouds. Warm. Morning clouds. Warm.
More News

Nigeria prepares for delayed presidential vote

2015-03-21 16:35
Displaced people from Baga listens to President Goodluck Jonathan (unseen) in a Maiduguri camp on January 15, 2015. Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan met survivors from what is thought to be Boko Haram's worst attack in its six-year insurgency. H ~ OLATUNJI OMIRIN

Lagos - Nigeria, goes to the polls to elect a new president next week after a controversial postponement, with the six-week delay seeing major gains against the Boko Haram jihadists.

Fourteen candidates, including the first woman, are eyeing the top job but the election is a two-horse race between incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

Next Saturday's poll is being watched closely, given the strong opposition challenge and the possibility of defeat for a sitting head of state.

The head of the country's electoral commission, Attahiru Jega, maintains that "everything humanly possible" has been done to ensure a free, fair, credible and peaceful vote.

But security threats -- from Boko Haram to political violence -- are the prime concern, with the Islamist militants renewing attacks on civilians, despite a wave of claimed military successes.

Also Read: Mu’azu rules out landslide victory for Jonathan

Just how many of the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the violence in the northeast will be able to vote will come under scrutiny, as will the first use of voter ID card technology.

The election delay has hurt Nigeria's crude-fuelled economy, which has been battered by the global oil shock, creating investor uncertainty and an urgent problem for whoever wins.

On Friday, credit ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgraded Africa's leading economy further into junk territory, blaming falling crude prices, political instability and Boko Haram.

Security issues

Security on polling day is the major concern, with the inability of soldiers to provide cover nationwide given as a reason for delaying the initial vote on February 14.

Since then, there has been a wave of military successes, with indications that the government may soon announce an end to the six-year conflict, that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

But there have been warnings against any premature declaration given fears that the rebels, who have allied themselves to the Islamic State group, will revert to guerrilla tactics.

Nnamdi Obasi, senior researcher at the International Crisis Group, said Boko Haram is still able to carry out its threat to disrupt elections, which it views as "un-Islamic".

Also Read: Buhari’s wife urges First Lady not to be scared of prison

"Its fighters may not be able to seize new territory but they could certainly still send suicide bombers to public places, including polling centres," he told AFP.

"In many parts of Borno state, the security situation is still tenuous and displaced persons have not returned or settled down well enough to participate in elections.

"Elsewhere in the region, the polls will go but very much in an atmosphere of unease and insecurity."

Political violence, which has plagued previous Nigerian elections and which in 2011 saw nearly 1,000 people killed in clashes, is also seen a major risk.

Nigeria's human rights commission recorded nearly 60 deaths in December and January and there are fears of many more with the campaign so close.

The head of the Nigeria federal police, Suleiman Abba, vowed on Friday that trouble-makers will face "the full wrath of the law".

The United Nations has also promised "accountability for anyone who will choose to contest the election results through violent means".

"The world really is watching," UN Under-Secretary General Jeffery Feltman said on a visit to Abuja this week.

Voting procedure

Some 68.8 million of the 173 million Nigerians are registered to vote in the presidential and parliamentary election, which are followed on April 11 by state assembly and gubernatorial polls.

But Jega has been under pressure over the electoral commission's preparations, particularly from Jonathan's ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP has criticised the rate of distribution of biometric voter ID cards, the technology used to "read" them and the ability of election volunteers to use the devices.

Also Read: The re-election

Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) for its part senses a government plot to revert to the former paper system, which made ballot rigging easier, allowing the PDP to cling to power.

Jega said on Monday that 67.8 million cards or 98.5 percent of cards had been sent out -- up from 66.5 percent a week before February 14 -- but some 20 million had not been collected.

A further delay has been ruled out, with Jonathan's mandate due to expire on April 30 and a formal handover of power set for May 29.

The opposition has said the overall result will be in doubt if the displaced in its northeastern heartland are unable to vote.

Arrangements have been made to allow internally displaced people (IDPs) to vote at polling stations in or near camps in the restive region, Jega said on Monday.

Read more on: politics  |  2015 election

More In This Category
Lasun emerges new Deputy Speaker

Hon Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun has been elected as the new Deputy Speaker of the 8th Assembly..

APC rejects Saraki, Dogara

The All Progressives Congress has rejected the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.

El-Rufai downsizes ministries from 19 to 13

Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State has reduced the number of ministries in the state from 19 to 13 for effective service delivery.

Political thugs disrupt Katsina Assembly inauguration

Political thugs are alleged to have disrupted the 8th Katsina State House Assembly inauguration proceedings.

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.
News24 |   OLX  |   PriceCheck  |   Careers24