Parliamentary elections in Nigeria have now been postponed for a week and are scheduled on 9 April, which means that the presidential elections and state elections, originally set on 9 April and 16 April have also had to be rescheduled.

Under the new timetable announced on 3 April by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), presidential elections are now set for Saturday 16 April and for state governors on Tuesday 26 April.

The decision by the INEC has been taken in full consultation with the political parties involved. The delay has been caused by the late delivery of returning papers for the results and tally records for the votes cast.

The postponement has already led to questions about the organisational ability of the INEC and it is expected to trigger tensions as well as confusion among politicians and voters in what is effectively a month-long election process.

Nigerian elections have a long history of voting fraud and violence. It was to put an end to this bad record that the federal parliament decided at the end of 2010 that the rolls for the 2011 elections should be completely overhauled, not just revised. As a result the elections, which were originally set in February 2011, had to be postponed until April.

Re-registering the whole country, with a population of 158 million, has been a large logistical problem. It was made even more complex by the fact the INEC only had six weeks in which to complete its task. By the beginning of March the INEC announced that 73,528,040 were registered to vote, or about 67 million more than in the previous 2007 elections.

Whatever the reason for the late arrival of the vital electoral documents (some sources such as the BBC and Voice of America were initially saying that this was due to their late delivery from abroad) it does not augur well for an easy electoral process.

Wanted in Africa
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