How would one describe a whole electoral commission that waits for years so that an elections takes place, only to postpone the said elections right on the date they are supposed to be held? It's baffling, confusing, raises anger and leaves voters in a deflated state.
This is the situation that has unfolded in Nigeria. The presidential elections have been pushed to February 23, while the governorship and local elections, earlier scheduled for March 2, will now be held on March 9. This is a move that has been widely criticized and derided across the world. The country's electoral commission, the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec), startled the whole nation by breaking out news of the postponement just five hours before the polls were set to open on Saturday.
This has heightened the political tensions in the country, but for the voters, these gimmicks are not the ones to tolerate. The main parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) have shifted blame on each other in their attempts to condemn this move. Who can rule out suspicions that the ruling party is working hand in hand with the Inec?
In making the decision, Inec said that the delay was put in place to necessitate the the addressing of vital issues, and to "maintain the quality of our elections," shying away from providing further details to elucidate this. They said there was a "determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections." The chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu said, "Proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible." The decision was arrived at after an emergency meeting at the Inec headquarters in Abuja.
This has left the electorate very much devastated. How can a whole commission say they are ready for an election only to postpone it at the last minute? It's quite absurd, and almost unfathomable, but the machinations can be easy to see through. "Africa is wild. Then there is Nigeria wild. How do you postpone elections on the day of the said elections?," said one user on Twitter.
Some people have travelled long distances only for them to have the elections postponed.
"I flew in for this elections. Booked my return flight for Monday. What do I do now? Wait till Next weekend? Who will see my patients? Nigeria kills our patriotism daily."
This is what it has come to. Others travelled for as long as 550 km across Nigeria for this election.
"This is embarrassing. How do we explain this to the world? This is a disgrace. We had four years to plan an election and less than 24 hours away, we are complaining of [a] logistics problem. This is a big joke," Stephen Akpan, a businessman, told Al Jazeera.
The opposition has interpreted this as a rigging tactic by the ruling party. The PDP said, "With several of their rigging options failing, they have to force INEC to agree to a shift in the election or a staggered election with flimsy excuses pre-manufactured for the purpose."
"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."
This is typical of many African regimes. Ruling parties shrink at the thought of losing an election. The elections in Nigeria are crucially important as the lives of many Nigerians is in a deplorable state and the elections had provided a ray of hope for some change. So, can it be ruled out that this is the agenda by the ruling party, to rig the elections?
As time progresses, this will clearly come to light.
Header image credit - The Conversation