Nigeria Tam Tam: The Consequences of Postponed Elections.......


Monday, April 4, 2011

by Nigerian Curiosity

 Source: Ayodeji Adegbenro 

The only word to describe my personal reaction to news of the recent election postponement in Nigeria is disgust. After receiving a budget that was arguably the highest ever for a similar election, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) announced on April 2nd, that previously planned National Assembly elections would be postponed. The explanation given was that necessary paperwork and materials failed to reach many voting centers around the country. Now, National Assembly elections will occur on April 9th, pushing presidential elections to the 16th and state government elections to the 23rd of April. Why INEC waited until April 2nd, which was election day, to inform the country that it was unprepared is a mystery, but it does raise very interesting questions about where power lies and the future of Nigerian democracy.

It is not a mistake that a commonly overused term in politics is "follow the money". In this case, questioning who stands to benefit from the forced election delay will allow for consideration of the more important matters at hand. It cannot be Jonathan or his party the PDP. For all the criticisms of that party, and there are many, they do not gain from this embarrassment. In fact, the postponement makes them, the party that has held so-called democratic power since 1999, appear useless. It is also important to mention that elections had begun before the postponement was announced. And in fact, elections continued in many parts of the country despite the announcement.

And Jega, who came to the INEC as a well-respected educator, could not have signed up for the embarrassment that has followed. Besides, if one is to look at previous delays by himself and INEC, they always happened prior to the event in question. Still, in any other country, a person in Jega's position would either resign or be sacked for such a glaring failure, whether it was his fault or not. Alas, Nigeria is sadly, not one of those countries.

However, this mess could simply be the result of sheer incompetence on the part of INEC officials. The editors of the Vanguard newspaper, Sahara Reporters, political parties and civil society groups have publicly called for Jega's resignation. It is clear that there must be an investigation into what happened. As noted above, it is a mystery that INEC waited until the day of elections to postpone them. The commission should have known that it was not prepared at least 48 hours before the planned polls. It should have announced a delay much earlier. Sadly, the postponement did not prevent the election violence that injured many and killed at least one more