News / Africa

Nigeria Readies for Poll Despite Doubts Over Process

Nigerian man read a local newspapers with headlines, Independent National Electoral Commission flops, over a Portrait of Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan in Lagos, April 3, 2011
Nigerian man read a local newspapers with headlines, Independent National Electoral Commission flops, over a Portrait of Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan in Lagos, April 3, 2011
Julia Ritchey

Nigerians head to the polls Saturday after several delays for the first of a three-part general election, though some parts of the country will have to wait a little longer to cast their votes.

Most of Nigeria's population will begin voting Saturday for members of parliament despite lingering questions surrounding the poll's credibility after several false starts.

The poll, originally slated for April 2, was pushed back twice by the Independent National Electoral Commission after problems arose distributing voting materials to the country's 120,000 polling stations.

INEC announced Thursday an additional delay for about 15 percent of the country's electoral districts, which will now have to wait until April 26 to cast their ballots in Senate and House races.

The delays have frustrated many voters in Nigeria, a country with a troubled election history since the end of military rule in 1999.

President Goodluck Jonathan sought to allay voters' concerns in a nationwide address this week while also defending the INEC electoral chief, Attahiru Jega. "Let me reiterate that the federal government is fully committed to the independence of INEC and to the conduct of free and fair elections in the country," he said.

Jonathan is running in presidential polls scheduled for April 16 against 18 other candidates. State polls are scheduled the week after. Jonathan, the former vice president, became head of state nearly a year ago upon his predecessor's death in May 2010.

An opinion survey released this week showed Jonathan leading with 62 percent ahead of his closest rival, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who garnered 24 percent. The Action Congress of Nigeria candidate, Nuhu Ribadu, trailed with six percent.

An Africa analyst, J. Peter Pham, says the optics of this election will be just as important as who gets elected. "[In] 2003, the cheating was massive, and 2007, arguably one of the worst elections ever run anywhere. With that as the backdrop, even the most well run best effort is going to draw suspicion from people. Nigeria needs a government that's not only democratically elected, but perceived that way, and doesn't have that shadow cast over its legitimacy," he said.

Pham says questions remain about the security of the ballots that were already cast last Saturday before INEC officially postponed the elections. Millions cast their votes in areas such as Lagos and Kaduna, and may feel cheated if their votes are not secured.

A program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy, Oge Onubogu, says despite the logistical obstacles, an encouraging aspect surrounding these elections has been the enthusiasm among Nigeria's youth.

"We've seen so much interest, especially among the young population of Nigeria. The young people are just so interested in the process, actually going up the extent of mobilizing themselves in domestic election monitoring teams to go out there and see what is really happening," Onubogu said.

Onubogu says Nigeria's youth, who make up a significant portion of the country's 70 million voters, are seeking to turn a new page for democracy.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid