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Nigeria Counts Cost of Last-Minute Vote Delay as Stocks Tank

Nigeria Counts Cost of Last-Minute Vote Delay as Stocks Tank”

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Niger State has formerly replaced the name of Senator David Umaru with that of Mohammed Sani Musa as candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) for Niger East senatorial district in the February 23 election in the state. It was expected to be a tight race between President Muhammadu Buhari and the main opposition candidate, businessman and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Just as Nigerians were preparing to head for the polls, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission announced that the election would be postponed for one week. "After the election we have to know exactly what really happened", he said, promising that an investigation would be launched. But the delay still threw the country, where some 84 million people have registered to vote, into renewed political uncertainty.

According to him, INEC told PDP not to spend its money, following its planned postponement, adding angrily that APC has spent so much in preparing for the elections and demanded that INEC should apologize to Nigerians, particularly APC voters who traveled far and near to cast their votes.

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Yakubu, who has earlier maintained the electoral body was "good to go" for Saturday's vote, said the delay was "good for our democracy and for our country". He was committed to the electoral commission's neutrality, he said.

As well as pushing back the presidential and parliamentary vote to February 23, INEC delayed governorship elections for a week until March 9.

But election officials say the decision was made to help conduct a free, fair and credible election. The last two presidential elections, in 2011 and 2015, were also delayed over logistics and security issues.

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"So, I want to appeal to Nigerians to give INEC a second chance".

The president's order comes as Nigerians prepare to vote at the rescheduled general elections starting on Saturday.

A 48-hour delay was also ruled out because technicians said more time was needed to reconfigure the 180,000 or so machines that "read" biometric voter cards to a different date. In Nigeria, the central bank stores election materials for safe keeping.

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Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, center, leaves his party's headquarters after holding an emergency meeting with senior members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday Feb. 18, 2019.

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