Feb 23, 2019

Skepticism and suspicion ahead of Nigeria's delayed presidential vote

A billboard for the ruling party's candidates in Abuja. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Abuja, Nigeria — As voters in Nigeria prepare to cast their ballot on Saturday in the rescheduled presidential and legislative elections, concerns about the credibility, or lack of it, of the polls still persist.

Why it matters: "In a close-run election, marred by discrepancies and irregularities, the winner ultimately may be decided by the courts rather than the voters," Matthew Page, associate fellow at Chatham House, told Al Jazeera."Given the Nigerian judiciary's lack of independence and well-earned reputation for corruption, it is possible that the Nigerian presidency could essentially be sold to the highest bidder."

Concerns raised ahead of the poll include the fact that millions of Nigerians that registered to vote in the elections had not collected their voter cards. Meanwhile, images of policemen and soldiers using President Muhammadu Buhari's campaign sign, which indicates an endorsement, have gone viral.

Where things stand:

  • The presidential and legislative votes were to take place on February 16 before they were delayed five hours before the opening of polling stations.
  • Some election materials have been held up from reaching voting stations. However, the electoral commission pledged on Thursday there will not be further postponement.
  • The two general elections in 2011 and 2015 were also delayed.

What to watch: "I envisage that the results will be seriously contested and disputed. This is because the gladiators from the two biggest parties have sworn not to give in or concede victory in case they lose. This is not healthy for the polity," said Victor Okhai, presidential candidate of the Providence Peoples Congress.

Go deeper: Read the full Al Jazeera report.

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