Nigerian elections postponed. Again.

Nigeria’s hoping that the third time’s a charm. After two previous delays in the country’s scheduled voting, today the balloting was pushed back again. Speaking at a news conference this afternoon from Abuja, the head of the country’s election commission, Attahiru Jega, announced that 15 senate races and 48 house congressional races would be pushed ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria's hoping that the third time's a charm. After two previous delays in the country's scheduled voting, today the balloting was pushed back again. Speaking at a news conference this afternoon from Abuja, the head of the country's election commission, Attahiru Jega, announced that 15 senate races and 48 house congressional races would be pushed back. Logistics -- namely, getting ballot papers printed and delivered -- were cited as the rationale. Ironically, the original postponement may be the cause of some of the further delays. Voting was stopped after polls had already opened last Saturday, meaning that many of the ballots are already marked and must be reprinted. (Sahara Reporters has a useful spreadsheet of all the re-printing that now needs to be done.)

AP correspondent Jon Gambrell quotes Jega saying, "We will do our best to revive hope and confidence in the process." Hope in the process, however, may not be enough. There are signs that politics is far more powerful than any of the country's electoral institutions. Opposition figures were arrested en masse on Thursday in the country's oil-producing state of Akwa Ibom.  Elsewhere, the local press is already reporting on cases of vote buying and corruption in voter registration.

It won't be clear until the voting starts (again) how prepared Nigeria actually is. But from the looks of it, we may be waiting a while.

Nigeria’s hoping that the third time’s a charm. After two previous delays in the country’s scheduled voting, today the balloting was pushed back again. Speaking at a news conference this afternoon from Abuja, the head of the country’s election commission, Attahiru Jega, announced that 15 senate races and 48 house congressional races would be pushed back. Logistics — namely, getting ballot papers printed and delivered — were cited as the rationale. Ironically, the original postponement may be the cause of some of the further delays. Voting was stopped after polls had already opened last Saturday, meaning that many of the ballots are already marked and must be reprinted. (Sahara Reporters has a useful spreadsheet of all the re-printing that now needs to be done.)

AP correspondent Jon Gambrell quotes Jega saying, "We will do our best to revive hope and confidence in the process." Hope in the process, however, may not be enough. There are signs that politics is far more powerful than any of the country’s electoral institutions. Opposition figures were arrested en masse on Thursday in the country’s oil-producing state of Akwa Ibom.  Elsewhere, the local press is already reporting on cases of vote buying and corruption in voter registration.

It won’t be clear until the voting starts (again) how prepared Nigeria actually is. But from the looks of it, we may be waiting a while.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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