The week-long delay to Nigeria’s presidential election could depress turnout, voters and civil society groups have warned, because many people who returned home to cast ballots last weekend cannot afford to make the trip again ahead of February 23. The country’s electoral body, INEC, said logistical difficulties and problems transporting materials to distant or conflict-ridden corners of the country caused the delay and has denied accusations it was responding to political pressures.
Analysts said that the last-minute decision was likely to both hold down turnout and further undermine faith in the political process in Africa’s largest democracy, which is only two decades removed from military rule.
“This is basically project management. This is basically the inability of this body to see that they are organizing the biggest election, not just in the history of Nigeria, but on the continent itself, in the history of the continent with 84 million people on the voters roll,” said Idayat Hassan, the director of the Centre for Democracy & Development in Abuja.