Polls in Nigeria’s presidential and congressional elections were to open within hours, but BBC is reporting:
Authorities in Nigeria have begun sending out ballot papers to 120,000 polling stations, hours before voting in presidential polls is due to begin.
The electoral commission head said the 60m ballot papers had been kept in South Africa to prevent tampering.
Correspondents say it is hard to see how papers can be delivered across the vast country in time for the start of polling – already delayed by two hours.
With current Vice-President Atiku Abubakar just cleared this week to run as an opposition candidate to the governing party, some reports had suggested that Abubakar’s name would be on stickers affixed to ballots already being printed with the other candidates’ names. But apparently ballots have actually been printed only this week.
The Independent National Election Commission (Inec) chairman said the 60m ballot papers had to be printed abroad because it was not possible to do this in Nigeria in just three days. [...] the names of the presidential candidates are not on the papers – just the symbol of their political party.*
Abubakar had threatened to boycott. He now says he is running only to challenge the electoral result in court.
This has all the makings of an electoral disaster. In a country where the terrain, infrastructure, and violence make any election a challenge to pull off under the best of circumstances, the risk of major incidents is only increased by delays in distributing ballots and the guarantee of post-election disputes.
Will Nigeria still have a civilian government when this election is over?
Highly recommended further reading: Jonathan Edelstein’s posts on: (1) Why Nigerians got an unexpected holiday last week and its implications for the state elections and Supreme Court ruling; and (2) On the violence, intimidation, and fraud in the state elections.
Jonathan notes a rather surprising outcome of the state elections: Despite the fraud, the ruling party will pick up at best only one governorship over the total it had following the 2003 elections, and in some states its governors will face opposition-controlled legislatures.
* I assume this means that the Presidential, House, and Senate ballot papers are distinct. Elections for congress are by plurality in single-seat districts, and presumably have candidate names on them. They must have been printed in advance. I wonder if candidates allied with Abubakar are on those ballots. I hope someone knows and can comment on that.