Buhari in emergency meeting over delayed Nigeria elections

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari greets his supporters at a past function. He is seeking re-election. [Reuters]
President Muhammadu Buhari met with senior members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party on Monday over the postponement of Nigeria's presidential election, the party said.

The electoral commission, which announced the delay five hours before polls centres were due to open last Saturday, said the election would be held next Saturday.

Buhari, who has been in power since 2015, faces a tight contest against former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). Both men have urged voters to stay calm after the delay was announced.

Atiku later said Buhari's administration was behind the delayed elections. He offered no evidence.

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The electoral commission said the postponement was solely due to logistical factors and denied that political pressure had played any part in the decision.

Presidential elections in 2011 and 2015 were also delayed over logistics and security issues. Buhari said the cause of the delay should be investigated after the elections take place on February 23.

The president, who addressed an emergency meeting of officials from his ruling party in the capital Abuja, said there was need for the electoral commission to explain its "incompetence".

The commission announced the election delay in the early hours of Saturday, five hours before polls were due to open.

Surprise decision

This came as the naira weakened on the forward market and Nigerian stocks fell to a one-week low after the country's surprise decision to delay national elections.

The one-year non-deliverable naira forward opened at a quote of 401 per dollar, compared with 397 in the previous session.

"There is some frustration on behalf of investors who have had concerns about this election for the better part of the past year and are hoping to put it behind them," said Christopher Dielmann, senior economist at Exotix Capital.

Investors had started to pick up shares to position for a post-election rally, assuming the election would pass without violence or other problems. That boosted dollar liquidity on the currency market.

Stocks, which had climbed past a three-month high on Friday, shed 1.8 per cent to 32,126 points on Monday.

Analysts say the delay could lead to a contested result, creating uncertainty,

"Some investors might still want to wait for the results of the election to gauge risks, such as a possible contestation of the result, which the postponing arguably now has given more grounds for," said Cobus de Hart, senior economist at South Africa's NKC African Economics.

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