After Many Delays, Nigerians Finally Go to the Polls

Voting in most of the West African nation’s legislative elections is slated for Saturday.

Posted: 04/08/2011 06:01 PM EDT

People line up to cast their votes in Ibadan, Nigeria, Saturday, April 2 before the election was postponed.  (Photo: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Nigeria is having a hard time holding its legislative elections. Following a one week delay due to lack of voting materials, Nigeria is now scheduled to hold them Saturday, April 9.

However, 15 out of the 109 Senate races and 48 areas for House of Representatives races will be postponed, Attahiru Jega, the election commissioner, said in a news conference. He blamed the delay on the companies hired to print ballots.

The problems began when voting materials failed to reach all the polls by April 2, forcing the extension. The announcement last Saturday caused widespread frustration amongst many citizens who had been waiting outside of polling stations for hours and some who had even cast their meaningless vote already. Some voters had traveled long distances to vote. One election official in the city of Zaria was beaten up by angry residents, while voters in Lagos confronted officers demanding to know what would happen to votes already cast, Reuters reports.

Accusations of widespread corruption and voting irregularities in past elections have left many Nigerians weary.  The nation, Africa’s most populous, has 74 million registered voters.  The European Union reportedly described Nigeria’s 2007 election as the worst they’ve ever seen anywhere after numerous reports of ballot box theft and out-of-control vote rigging.

But current leader Goodluck Jonathan, who was appointed president of the country after former President Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua died almost a year ago, defended the most recent delays.

“What happened is another demonstration that the country and the electoral body are committed to conducting credible elections," Jonathan said. "We want to make sure there are significant changes in this country. It's only when we can select our leaders that we are in a position to give our people what they want.”

The order of the elections will still be the same, with voting in legislative elections taking place Saturday, presidential elections on April 16 and voting in state governors elections taking place April 26.

From Our Partners