Calls for delay in Nigerian elections

About half of voters yet to receive biometric voting card

Nigeria's national security adviser Sambo Dasuki has called for the postponement of the upcoming presidential elections to allow more time for the distribution of the country's new biometric voter cards. The elections, which include voting for the National Assembly, governorships and state assemblies, are scheduled for 14 February but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been criticised for the slow distribution of the electronic voting cards.

Dasuki says that only about half of Nigeria's 68.8 million registered voters have received their cards, which are being introduced to curb electoral fraud.

By law, Nigeria has three months in which to postpone the election however this proposal has been rejected firmly by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Also hampering the election process is the ongoing terror campaign being waged in the north of the country by Islamist terrorists Boko Haram, prompting INEC to make special ballot arrangements for the roughly one million people displaced by the insurgency.

The presidential election will be contested by a total of 14 candidates, including incumbent Goodluck Jonathan who was elected president in 2011, and former military head of state Muhammadu Buhari, who ruled the country from 1983 to 1985. Jonathan, a 57- year-old Christian from the south, and Muhammadu Buhari, a 72-year-old Muslim from the north, are the main presidential contenders in a race pitting the mostly Muslim north against the predominantly Christian south.

They are also the only two candidates to have contested the 2011 election, in which Jonathan won 60 per cent of the vote against Budhari's 32 per cent.

Jonathan's conservative People's Democratic Party (PDP) has dominated Nigerian politics since the country's transition to democracy in 1999 but now, for the first time, it faces a serious challenge from an alliance of opposition parties who merged in 2013 to form the social-democratic All Progressives Congress, whose presidential candidate is Buhari. The four parties that united under the new umbrella are the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance.

Jonathan recently landed himself in hot water with the Lagos state government which ordered the removal of his election posters placed illegally along the city's highways. The Nigerian president also raised a few eyebrows when a billboard with his campaign message appeared in the airport district of Ghanaian capital Accra, allegedly targeting Nigerian commuters.