March 23, 2019

Nigeria Postpones Election Just Hours Before Polls Open

Nigeria Postpones Election Just Hours Before Polls Open


Nigeria’s electoral commission delayed the presidential election until Feb. 23, making the announcement a mere five hours before polls were set to open Saturday. It cited unspecified “challenges” amid reports that voting materials had not been delivered to all parts of the country.

“This was a difficult decision to take but necessary for successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy,” commission chairman Mahmood Yakubu told reporters in the capital, Abuja. He said more details would be released during an afternoon briefing.

Nigeria also postponed the previous presidential election in 2015 because of deadly insecurity in the northeast, which remains under threat from Islamic extremists.

More than 84 million voters in this country of some 190 million had been expected to head to the polls in what is seen as a close and heated race between 76-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari and top challenger Atiku Abubakar, a billionaire former vice president.

Both have pledged to work for a peaceful election even as their supporters, including high-level officials, have caused alarm with vivid warnings against foreign interference and allegations of rigging.

When Mr. Buhari came to power in 2015 he made history with the first defeat of an incumbent president in an election hailed as one of the most transparent and untroubled ever in Nigeria, which has seen deadly post-vote violence in the past.

Now Mr. Buhari could become the second incumbent to be unseated. His term has been marked by a crash in global oil prices that spun Nigeria’s heavily crude-dependent economy into a rare recession, from which it emerged only in 2017. Unemployment shot up. The country passed India as the nation with the most people living in extreme poverty. More than 13 million children are said to be out of school.

Mr. Abubakar has campaigned on the theme of “Let’s Make Nigeria Work Again,” while vowing to apply his business acumen to privatize Nigeria’s all-important state oil company and lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2025.



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