Africa

Nigeria election: Anger and frustration after poll delay

Woman checking her name on the list Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some voters turned up at polling stations before hearing about the postponement

Many Nigerians woke up wondering whether the last-minute postponement of the presidential election was fake news.

In the middle of the night, just five hours before polls were due to open, Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission (Inec) head Mahmood Yakubu told a hastily arranged press conference that the vote had been delayed by a week because of logistical problems.

Initial disbelief was followed by anger, frustration and resignation.

Musa Abubakar, who travelled 550km (340 miles) from the capital, Abuja, to vote in the far northern town of Daura, told the BBC that he "couldn't believe" what had happened.

Image caption Musa Abubakar travelled 550km to vote only to find out the election had been postponed

He is one of many Nigerians to have made a journey to their home states to take part in the poll.

"I don't know what to do now, I'm not happy," Mr Abubakar said.

He is now faced with the choice of staying in Daura and missing out on work, repeating the journey or not bothering to vote next week.

Anger online

There has been an outpouring of frustration on Twitter, with "postponed", "postponement" and "Inec" all trending. Many, like Bobby Ezidi, have called the electoral commission "incompetent".

Others are sharing a video clip of Mr Yakubu from a recent interview where he said "there is no possibility of postponement" and wondering what had changed.

Could the postponement affect turnout?

Those who had intended to vote would have planned their day around it. The whole country was essentially going to shut down as travel was restricted, so the only options were to stay at home or go to the polling station.

Hajiya Sa'adatu said she was "greatly disappointed" to learn of the delay when she came out to cast her vote in the northern city of Kano.

Image caption Nigerians like Hajiya Sa'adatu only learned of the news when they woke up

There is a concern that the postponement may lead to fewer people turning out to vote next week.

In the south-eastern city of Owerri, Chukwueze (who would only give his first name) was very angry. "Nigeria has shown that it is corrupt," he said, "and next Saturday we are not going to come out."

But some have not been discouraged.

Abubakar Shettima, in Plateau state in the country's Middle Belt, had started queuing on Thursday, telling the BBC that he wanted to be the first person to vote. Responding to the postponement, he said he was still determined to come back.

And in the city of Yola, in the north-east, Yucehe Ogbu said she would vote next week "because if you vote you can change things".

Trying to be optimistic, some have said that the postponement will mean that the vote should run smoothly next week.

'Can I go to Canada?'

"Canada" is another trending topic on Twitter, as people jokingly ask about the possibility of emigrating.

One person wrote: "My country postpone election at 3am when the nation was asleep. Please accept me as a citizen and I would uphold your values."

Another has shared a video of himself singing along to what his says is the Canadian national anthem:

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