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Nigeria postpones presidential election on 23rd of this month

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The presidential poll in Nigeria, originally scheduled for Saturday, February 16, is postponed to February 23, announced the president of the Nigerian Electoral Commission (Inec) tonight, five hours before the opening of polling stations. The two main parties condemn this postponement.

Will the 84 million Nigerians get the information in time, before moving to the polling station? Nothing is less certain as the surprise announcement, confirming rumors circulating in the evening, was given at night by the electoral commission.

Inec has decided to postpone for a week the general elections (presidential and legislative) scheduled for Saturday, arguing logistical problems after an emergency meeting in the night from Friday to Saturday.

It was not until 2:40 am that the president of Inec, Mahmood Yakubu, took the floor. A terse intervention of just a few minutes:

“After having systematically reviewed its logistical and operational plans, and with the desire to hold fair, free and credible elections, the Commission has come to the conclusion that organizing the election as planned is no longer possible. Therefore, the Commission has decided to postpone the presidential and legislative elections to Saturday, February 23, 2019. In addition, the election for governors, state parliaments and the federal capital council are postponed until March 9, 2019. This give the Commission the opportunity to resolve and identify the challenges it faces in order to maintain the quality of our votes. It was a difficult decision for the Commission. But it was necessary for the success of the holding of our elections and the consolidation of our democracy”.

The governorate elections, originally scheduled for March 2, are also postponed by one week, March 9.

“It was a difficult but necessary decision,” added the president of Inec. Friday evening, the members of the electoral commission met in emergency, leaving the country in suspense for several hours. Rumors of a postponement then invaded the news sites and social networks. Nobody expected such a postponement.

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Mahmood Yakubu did not elaborate on the logistical issues raised. But three Inec centers were burned across the country, and the opposition denounced the lack of newsletters in many states. However, Wednesday, the boss of Inec still felt that despite the challenges facing the country, the vote would not be postponed.

Nearly 84 million voters were expected in the 120,000 polling stations that were to open at 8am local (and French) time across the country. They had to elect a new head of state, as well as the 360 seats of the House of Representatives and the 109 of the Senate.

In 2011 and 2015, the elections had already been postponed, but several days earlier, also for logistical reasons.

With 200 million inhabitants, Nigeria, the English-speaking country on the west of the continent, is the fourth most populous country in the world.

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