The Nigeria’s 2015 general election which was due to hold on Saturday [Valentine’s Day] has been postponed by six weeks, leaving tongues to wag over suspected foul play. BBC report.
The election was postponed by six weeks because of security concerns in the north-east, where Boko Haram militants have taken over territory displacing some 1.5 million people.
The electoral commission said it made the decision after the security agencies advised there would not be enough troops available to guarantee the safety of voters.
However, many Nigerians suspect foul play.
1. Can Boko Haram be beaten in six weeks?
It is unlikely as the Islamist insurgency has been going on for six years.
In the last few weeks, however, the conflict has taken on a more regional dimension, with Nigeria’s neighbours providing military assistance against Boko Haram.
2. Could the election be delayed again?
The presidential and parliamentary polls are now due on 28 March – but they could still be pushed forward by a few weeks as the constitution states that the electoral process must be completed 30 days before 29 May, when power should be handed over.
3. Why was it left so late to postpone them?
Nigeria works in opaque ways. In 2011, the postponement of the presidential election was announced mid-way through voting, after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would be unable to deliver result sheets to polling stations on time.
So INEC has done better this time, announcing a postponement a week before the election.
This gives it more time to roll out permanent voters cards – only two-thirds of Nigeria’s 66.8 million voters have so far collected them and it will not be possible to vote without one.
4. Will the delay affect the campaign?
In the last few weeks, the momentum has swung in favour of the APC. The six-week delay will give the PDP time to strategise and fight back, analysts say.
They say the APC may struggle with funding to keep its campaign going for another six weeks. Money is unlikely to be an issue for the PDP, which has deep pockets – even though the party denies accusations that it uses public money.
People suspect that the PDP will also use this opportunity to buy time for cases in court seeking Gen Buhari’s disqualification from running as president, saying INEC accepted him as a candidate without receipt of his certificates of education.
Many Nigerians also suspect that the military will be hoping for some symbolic victories over Boko Haram, which will restore its battered image and also help Mr Jonathan’s electoral prospects.
5. Why has the whole process been so disorganised?
Nigeria is a giant in many ways. It is Africa’s largest oil producer, biggest economy and most populous nation but its vast wealth has not been used to invest in developing the country and most people still live in poverty.
Government officials are often accused of corruption, inefficiency and indiscipline – some see their job largely as a way to extract bribes. This means they have a lot to lose if they are defeated in an election and so they do everything possible to ensure victory, fueling perceptions that the election will not be credible.
However, others note that despite the problems, Nigeria has made huge strides since military rule ended in 1999 and democracy is taking root in the country.