Nigerians react to postponement of presidential elections

[PHOTO: COURTESY]
On February 16, 2019, Nigeria postponed its much-awaited presidential elections for another week.  

The decision to delay the elections left many Nigerians angry.

Many took to social media to express their disappointment saying, "this is a big joke. We had four years to plan an election," wrote an angry citizen.

"I am so angry right now. I delayed a business trip to stay back and vote then they postpone the elections,” another said.

SEE ALSO :Total to approve oil project in Nigeria

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made the announcement five hours before the polls were due to take place on Saturday, February 16.

Presidential candidates have since asked citizens to remain calm and patient.

On the other hand, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) objected the decision to delay the elections.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP sees this action as wicked and we are also aware of other dubious designs like the deployment of hooded security operatives who would be ruthless on the people, ostensibly to scare them away," PDP Chairman Uche Secondus said.

Some electoral commission offices in some states had earlier been set ablaze and election material taken away.

SEE ALSO :MTN pays Sh5.39b to settle Nigeria dispute

While most Nigerians took the delay in a presidential election in their stride after similar postponements in 2011 and 2015, one presidential candidate and civil society groups expressed concern that the vote could now be compromised.

General elections will be held in Nigeria on February 23, 2019, to elect the President, Vice President and the National Assembly. They will be the sixth quadrennial elections since the end of military rule in 1999.

Nigeria Elections History

In 2015, the electoral commission delayed presidential elections following security threats by insurgency group Boko Haram.

General elections were held on March 28 and 29, 2015. They were first scheduled to be held on February 14, 2015. However, the electoral commission postponed it by six weeks to March 28, mainly due to the poor distribution of Permanent Voter Cards, and also to curb ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in certain states.

SEE ALSO :Nigeria’s central bank to finance Dangote’s oil with Sh21b

The election was then extended to March 29 due to delays and technical problems with the biometric card readers. It was the most expensive election ever to be held on the African continent.

Opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election by more than 2.5 million votes.

Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat on 31 March, before the results from all 36 states had been announced. It also marked the first time an incumbent president had lost re-election in Nigeria.  The President-elect was sworn-in on May 29, 2015.

2011 General Elections

Again in 2011, the presidential elections held on April 16 were postponed from April 9, following controversy as to whether a northerner or southerner should be allowed to become president given the tradition of rotating the top office between the north and the south.

SEE ALSO :Nigerian Chibok girls' champion quits presidential race

Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner, assumed the interim presidency.

Immediately after the election, widespread violence erupted in the northern Muslim parts of the country. Jonathan was declared the winner on April 19.

A year before that, the Nigerian electoral commission had requested a postponement of the polls citing the need for more time to overhaul the national electoral register. Critics were upset over the proposal. The election was postponed from January to April 2011 due to the release of a new electronic voter registration software.

However, it was not a bed of roses. In December of 2010, more than 30 people were killed after bomb attacks in at least three states, marred the polls with pre-election violence.

[PHOTO: COURTESY]
Nigeriapresidential electionsIndependent National Electoral Commission