ABUJA, NIGERIA —
The decision to postpone Nigeria’s elections by six weeks has met with criticism at home and abroad. Voters in Nigeria say they are disappointed.
Nigeria’s electoral commission says it pushed back the February 14 and February 28 polls because security agencies say they cannot secure voting and need more time to fight Boko Haram in the northeast.
That claim has been met with a fair bit of skepticism from voters.
Bauchi resident Muazu Aminu said, “Six weeks to end insurgency when they have taken a whole five years and not been able to deal with it? It will not change anything and they are just postponing the inevitable.”
Boko Haram militants control large swathes of territory and are threatening the Borno state capital Maiduguri. Regional troops began deploying last month as the conflict spilled over the borders.
But many voters think this delay is about politics, not security.
Recent polls show the ruling PDP party neck and neck with main opposition party, the APC. It's the PDP's first major challenge since coming to power in 1999.
Resident of Makurdi in Benue state, Dooga Martins, said, “APC wants the election to hold. PDP is buying time … I feel our leaders are playing politics with the system which is so unfortunate. But we’ll get it right at the end of the day.”
Three court cases have been filed to try to disqualify APC presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari has called for calm. His supporters say they are confident.
“No matter how the election is being postponed. We are still going to come and vote because we are sick and tired of this government. All we need is change," said Kaduna resident Ramatu Tijjani.
The government denies the delay is politically motivated, and it says the security and logistical challenges are real.
About 35% of voters still need to pick up their voter cards, for example.
Some voters say the six-week postponement is okay if it means more people get to vote and that candidates are less likely to contest results.
“We are not looking at the six weeks alone but we are looking at the perfection of the elections which is much more important,” said Kaduna.
The electoral commission insisted it was ready to hold credible polls on February 14, but says it will make good use of the extra time.
Contributing reporting came from Ardo Hazzad in Bauchi, Ibrahima Yakubu in Kaduna, and Hilary Uguru in Benues State.