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Are Nigeria's delayed polls credible?

Charlotte Attwood | 14:32 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

Nigeria has postponed its parliamentary election for a second time. The vote will now take place on Saturday - a week later than expected.

The decision by the national electoral commission means both presidential and state elections will also be pushed back.

Official reasons are that staff and papers weren't at polling stations around the country in time. But with a history of vote-rigging and electoral violence questions are being asked. Can Nigeria ever get it right?

Are you in Nigeria, what do you think of the delay? What impact will it have on voter turnout and trust in the system? What can Nigeria learn from elsewhere? Is it still possible for the elections to be a success?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Tuesday 5 April at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published.




  • Comment number 1.

    Although I'm not from or based in Nigeria, I have a lot of Nigerian friends and colleagues whose general impression about the election is that of mistrust; following this postponement, the little faith that they had in the process has evaporated. I however believe that the postponement was an endeavor by the INEC to get things RIGHT. I know that like many other African countries, Nigeria has struggled with elections but I'm convinced the man at the top of INEC at this point in time is keen to make sure that the votes of every Nigerian counts. I strongly believe that if Nigeria can get it RIGHT, it would have a huge impact throughout the continent. Let's just pray and hope, they get it right this time around.

  • Comment number 2.

    After being at the polling station on Saturday, I believe Nigeria is ready. At least I saw a ballot box that I have not seen in our unit for twelve years. The problem is that Jega was a bit hasty in schedulling Monday for elections without consultation with party leaders, it would have been just a single postponement. We will get it right this time.
    Niger Delta,

  • Comment number 3.

    Though I am not happy about the sorry situation in which we have found ourselves, clearly all the blame should not be put on the doorstep of Prof Attahiru Jega. Anybody who thought Prof Jega was going to conduct a hitch free election must have been living in a fool’s paradise.
    Prof Jega was only appointed to salvage a bad situation. In Civilised environment the electoral process starts immediately one is concluded. In 2007 the PDP government under President Olusegun Obasanjo conducted, what has been adjudged the worst election in the history of mankind. And the beneficiary President Umaru Ya adua acknowledged all the flaws of that election. But instead of planning ahead, the PDP government waited, till about a year ago to kick start the electoral process.
    “ Prof Jega the fireman” was only appointed to salvage our usual fire brigade approach to things. Part of our problem as a nation is that we believe in throwing money at everything while compromising standard processes and procedures. What we have is a systemic failure.
    Prof Jega has said several times “Time is of the essence”.
    We cannot as a nation, do the right thing, the wrong way and expect to get the right result.
    Credible, free and fair elections come with its own challenges especially when you have to contend with politicians who are professional election manipulators/ riggers. Prof Jega is also working with the old staff in Inec.
    There is no doubt that we have a situation on our hands. All hands, must all then be on deck to help Prof Jega succeed . My admirable Prof, your credibility, integrity, character or sense of patriotism is unquestionable. And for this, you inspire the new generation of Nigerians.
    God bless Nigeria

  • Comment number 4.

    Someone is making final touches to rig the elections big time.

  • Comment number 5.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]I am not in Nigeria but very much think that the delay in Nigerian vote will have seriouse consequences in terms of voters turn out, there will certainly be voter apathy for it is gradually becoming a tradition that every election there must be a delay in one way or the other. This will certainly be to a very bad precedent and I think Nigeria is noted for many of these irregularities. But what ever the case, the Goverment and the Electoral Commision has to be blamed and if not sanctioned if any foul play exists.

  • Comment number 6.

    Wrong questions by the BBC. The right question should be: elections, to what end? At any rate, it seems to me that the problem lies with our very nature as Nigerians. I'm referring to the sheepish gullibility that always informs our decision to participate in these farcical festivals of fraud and murderous violence. I believe it was Einstein who defined madness as the endless repetition of the same activity, each time expecting a different result. Perhaps we're all mad, after all; for it's hard to understand why we keep validating the orgy of theft that defines our political leadership (made up of the same crooks and scoundrels, I must add), each time expecting a different result. At least, if we all withdrew our participation, it would become clear that they only represent themselves and not us. Or perhaps those who believe that every society deserves the leadership it gets have been right all along.

  • Comment number 7.

    I want to believe the president with encouragement of international world, couple with dedication of electorates and INEC chairperson Prof. Jega want relatively free&fair election,but the "Nigerian factor" of saying A and doing Z, not even B makes the whole population to take wait & see stance.
    It takes the willingness of all the stakeholder to make this election to be credible.
    It starts from its planning, security, trust & up to looser gallantly congratulating the winners.
    I pray we get it right this time

  • Comment number 8.

    For me, I live in the FCT, I went out for the first time in my life to vote, but it was postponed. At first two people came to us at the pooling unit to say the elections had been postponed. This was around 12pm; I quickly rebuked them, encouraging my friends not to mind them as this is just a political gimmick to lure people into not voting. When it was 12.30pm that the voting was supposed to have commenced, noting was going on. We later learnt from the corps members that their supervisor asked them to stay on any further activities until further clarification, and minutes later, the INEC Boss made the announcement.

    My take is that it does not matter how many times the election is postponed; I will always go out to vote. The reason is that I believe in the electoral reform of the present Government. In my center in Orozo-FCT, we were 3369 registered voters. I was so impressed to see that more that 1000 people came out for the parliamentary election on Saturday. I was there from 8.00am till 1.00pm when people started to leave the premises. What this means is that I expect more than 2500 to come out during presidential election.

    The turn-out is very impressive: this goes to show that the people now have confidence in the electoral system. It is better to have a delayed credible election than a rushed , but flawed one.
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 9.

    Election is postponed in order to make it credible. It is interesting why foreign interest given contract to print ballot papers and failed to deliver on time thereby embarrassing Nigeria is not being blamed. If election had gone ahead and some people could not vote, the opposition would cry foul. We know that local and foreign press are interested in what would cause confusion. That's why they always support opposition parties who may not have prepared well enough to win votes crying foul and making wild claims of monumental rigging.

  • Comment number 10.

    To be candid, it is an international disgrace on Nigeria image because our name is synonymous with negativities. Prof. Jega can't tell he that he didn't aware with so-called logsitics challenges before he allowed us to go out for voting and suddenly and solely he came to postpone the election, it is undemocratic of him! Though, he came out to apologise for his doings which is okay but our leaders should stop taking for granted and stop playing gimmicks on us.
    This time around, Nigerians dont mind whose ox is gore, we want to elect and chose who govern us, we don't want a siddon-look approach. We are given Prof. Jega a last chance to put his house in order and give us free, fair and credible election because this election will have multiplier effects on all of us and yet unborn children.
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]From Akinwole Femi Kano State Nigeria

  • Comment number 11.

    We shall get it Right this time though it may not be 100% but it will be better than the previous ones.The problem with my country men is that we are always in haste and hastiness doesn't repair but destroys.I believe Jega is eager to conduct a free and fair election but he shouldn't try to remove his legs from his trouser simultaneously,otherwise he fails down.MAY GOD BLESS NIGERIA

  • Comment number 12.

    What is it that has been postponed here? Election Date or handover date?. Election date of course. I have got the privileged to have voted in all elections between 1979 to date. All these tensions, that are being created by the foreign press is not really what is on the ground in Nigeria. Nigerians are mobile people. They quickly put things behind and go about their normal business Suppose INEC went ahead to conduct the election and thereby resulted in problems..The same foreign and local press would have criticized INEC for not postponing the election in the first instance. I can understand that the reasons for all these apprehensions were because of 2007 elections which were massively flawed, but nevertheless we should be careful not to quickly discredit what has not been done. Wait a minute, I understand Belgium has not got any government since June 2010, when they held their election, but no tensions has been created by the foreign press. Is it because Belgium is a European country?. Even the Uk with long history of democracy, has still not got it right. A referendum is currently being planned to change the voting system, consequent upon disproportionate representation noticed at the last election. In Nigeria, I am sure all will be well..Just give the country some time.. At least there is a prospect of election, democaracy and freedom of choice. Nigeria is not Libya, Egypt or Tunisia.

  • Comment number 13.

    Credible or not credible, election voting is Bill of Rights question. The situation in Nigeria may sound ambiguous hence the likely incredibility question if the election is delayed. The government and electoral institutions have known about the election dates and needs over almost a two year period and there should be no reason for delay. However, this may cause the speculation of likely poor planning; inadequate resource allocation; poor logistical arrangements to facilitate the election process; and possible intent to defraud the process.
    Now, it would be fair to all to have the election as scheduled in a transparent and accountable manner to enable citizens' participation acknowledged. Roll the election process, Nigeria.

  • Comment number 14.

    I rather they postpone the election in order to get it right, than hasty the voting which might prove flaw and leads to systematic failure. It's easier for outside world to start ridicule INEC to try and get things done properly and they we be the first making judgement that the election wasn't credible. Lets give INEC the benefit of a doubt and wait for the outcome before we making allegation and condenming them. Even the so called western world had their issues with elections but no one bat an eyelid. Example the UK election last year was chaotic and ill prepared in some part of the country, lack of voting resources, people weren't allowed to vote because the polling stations closes at 11pm, even though some people had been queueing for almost 2 hours. And what was the excuses given, the anticipated turnout was more than originally predicted.

    So lets give INEC a chance for free and fair election before we accusing them of incompetence and disorganised. We are our own enemy as we lose faith easily in ourselves and the people in charge. Yes we know Nigeria election has never be perfect, but I rather have flawed one with room for improvement than a rushed one just to appease the outside world.

    Hope this election brings new direction to Nigeria politics and looser(s) accepts defeats with dignity and congratulate the victorious winner(s) with humility and humbleness.

  • Comment number 15.

    I was in Nigeria and was at the poll, optimistic and it was going on smoothly well until the anouncement came. it was shocking at first unbelievable. we put calls through to the FCT where we confirmed it. Alarge turnout was witnessed accross the country a clear departure from what obtains in the past. The awareness is quite high and everybody is optimistic that we will get it right. It may dampen(or has) a little, but the tun out will still be good. The ace is the presidential election that has generated a kin interest and its going to be great. We still hope and prey OUR votes will count. The fact that we are been allowed to vote freely attest to this unlike in 2007 when I was asked to leave the polling station that they have voted for me, even in the presence of law enforcement officers.
    The root cause is of course our fire brigade approach to issue. I keep wondering too if we coild not print election matterials in our country and save a little on foreign exchage and give some change to our citizenn. God help us

  • Comment number 16.

    To MUNE: You assert that "[t]he problem with my country men is that we are always in haste..." Quite the contrary, I would argue, because if a supposedly oil-rich country cannot provide its people with electricity or pipe-borne water after 50 years of independence, and its people still happily go out and vote essentially for the same individuals responsible for that appalling legacy, that can't rationally be described as impatience on their part. You really ought to start reasoning for yourself, rather than accept the self-serving, complacent drivel that our rulers utter via our state-controlled news media.

  • Comment number 17.

    The question probably should be: Can Nigeria ever get it right the first time? It is very unlikely. It is possible that they may get it right after the first or second trial. The reason is that Nigerians are the smartest people on earth. And because they are so smart they cannot operate by consensus since they do not listen to each other. When serious mistakes occur because decisions were made before suggestions were fully debated, Nigerians argue boisterously to defend their positions.

  • Comment number 18.

    I completely disagree with my compariot Mr Akpan above who opined that people should refuse to parcipate so as to prove an invalid point. there are two types or revolution needed to change our political and social situation. It can either be through violence or through elections. if good people refused to participate, or the citizen refused to vote, then we should be prepared to accept who ever is voted in. The citizen would not have any reason to complain or react if the voted candidiate did not perform.

  • Comment number 19.

    Bad comments on people can have a prophetic effect. Stop and give Nigerians a chance to do things right by their people and for their people. Poor expectations are not what we need in Nigeria. We are naturally a people with optimistic instincts. One Nigeria and the blessing of our best ancestors shall be with us all and always.

  • Comment number 20.

    This time around nigeria will do it right.by the grace of God jega will conduct free,fair & crediable election.

  • Comment number 21.

    Prof jega all u did i can say is correct but why did u take house of reps and senators ballot paper to manufacture em in the outside country but d presidential one's in this corrupt country why ? but all i think is not fair as you knw all dis p.d.p's they are bad in stealing and corrupting they will steal the ballot paper. tanks

  • Comment number 22.

    If the election being delayed makes it very credible so be it. It is better to be late than be late. Nigeirans waited for four years to cast their votes, another two or three weeks is not a problem, as long as we will be all satisfied that the elections are free and fair.

  • Comment number 23.

    The presidential election is full of religious sentiments especially in the Northern part on Nigeria. On radio and even in the mosque,text messages are being circulated for a Muslim not to vote for a Christian candidates. This is bad for our development, we are not talking issues. some of the major presidential candidates don`t have a blue print on how to transform Nigeria, they are just going their for sentiments. We need help on true true democracy.


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