Nigeria is due to hold general elections today, one week after the vote was postponed due to logistical issues. Read our pre-election briefing here.
The Independent National Electoral Commission cited poor weather and missing ballot papers, as well as attempted sabotage, as reasons for last week’s delay. While the Commission gave no indication as to who, or what, attempted to sabotage the vote, the ruling All Progressives Congress and its primary opposition, the People’s Democratic Party, have blamed each other for disrupting the process.
It is unclear if the delay favours anyone. Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari may benefit from the expectation that around 10 million fewer Nigerians will vote today. Turnout is not expected to differ significantly in the country’s north, however, where Mr Buhari enjoys strong support. On the other hand, many will hold the current president responsible for the delay—despite the Commission’s independence—potentially boosting the chances of his primary challenger, Atiku Abubakar.
The numerous irregularities surrounding this election raise the odds that today’s loser will challenge the result in court. Nigeria’s judiciary has a reputation for corruption—particularly bribe taking—meaning the presidential race may ultimately be decided by more than just vote totals. Such an outcome could hinder Nigeria’s democratic process and its plans to attract foreign investment.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.