Residents and officials in Nigeria’s northern Borno
state have expressed their disappointment after the
electoral commission announced it would postpone
elections until March 28, six weeks later than planned.
Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC), said late on
Saturday that security chiefs advised a postponement
as troops would not be available because of operations
against the armed group in the north – especially in
“If the security of personnel, voters, election observers
and election material cannot be guaranteed, the lives of
innocent young men and women and the prospect of
free, fair and credible elections will be greatly
jeopardised,” Jega said.
However, Al Jazeera reports that residents and officials
in Borno state said they believed the elections should
have gone ahead as planned on February 14.
“The mood here is that of huge disappointment –
people were actually ready for the elections here,” said
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from Maiduguri.
“The deputy governor of Borno state … said they were
ready and this is a huge blow to their plans.”
Our correspondent added that a lot of people who have
been displaced by fighting in the region had already
been given their voting cards by election commission
The decision to postpone the vote came following a
closed-door meeting in Abuja between INEC, the ruling
People’s Democratic Party, its main contender, the All
Progressive Congress, and other opposition parties.
Officials in President Goodluck Jonathan’s
administration have been calling for a postponement
amid continuing violence as the country battles Boko
However, civil rights groups, opposition political parties,
and Western countries opposed a later election date.
Protesters had gathered outside the electoral
commission headquarters in the capital, Abuja, for
days, calling for elections to go ahead as planned.
“Civil society organisations are calling for the
resignation of the election chair and Nigeria’s security
chiefs over the postponement of the election, but that is
unlikely to happen,” said Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege,
reporting from the city.
“Nigeria’s security services have failed to defeat Boko
Haram in five years. Some are asking how will they do
it in six weeks, and whether there is another motive
behind the delay.”
The incumbent has been locked in a tight race with
former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
APC national chairman John Odigie-Oyegun called the
delay “a major setback for Nigerian democracy” and
But he added: “I strongly appeal to all Nigerians to
remain calm and desist from violence and any activity
which will compound this unfortunate development.”
The decision to postpone the election also drew
condemnation from the United States, which said it was
“deeply disappointed” by the delay.
In a statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry
warned the Nigerian government against using
“security concerns as a pretext for impeding the
democratic process.” Nigeria and its four neighbouring
nations on Saturday pledged to deploy 8,700 troops,
police and civilians as part of a regional effort to fight
“The representatives of Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria
and Chad have announced contributions totalling 8,700
military personnel, police and civilians,” the countries
said in a statement after a meeting in Cameroon’s