Monday, 11 April 2011

Nigeria: New timetable for the polls

Nigeria's four-yearly federal and state election programme has got off to a chaotic start, with voting for the National Assembly elections, which were scheduled for Saturday 2nd April, being called off after voting had actually commenced in many areas, including Lagos and Ibadan in the south-west and Kano and Jigawa in the north.

Voters were still at the polling stations getting their voter accreditation when news began to filter through that the elections had been cancelled. Initially, even the electoral officials at the polling units waved the news aside as mere rumours or propaganda, claiming that it was designed to persuade the voters to leave the polling units so that “the riggers” could have their way.

The reality of the situation became clear at about 12.40 hours on the same day when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, addressed the country and explained that the elections had to be postponed throughout Nigeria because of “logistical problems”.

The INEC then went on to release a new timetable for the polls:

•On Saturday 2nd it postponed the National Assembly poll for Monday 4th April but then the following day it delayed them further until Saturday 9th April (i.e tomorrow)

•The presidential polls were then delayed from 9th until the 16th April

•The gubernatorial and State Assembly elections were then rescheduled from 16th to Tuesday 26th April, after the Easter weekend.

The delay has ramifications for the government's legislative programme, including the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). The National Assembly recess will be extended from the planned 19th April to the end of April. Procedural issues mean that the PIB deliberations may not now happen until shortly ahead of the scheduled end of the legislative term on the 29th May when the government's term formally ends.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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