Nigeria’s election commission has postponed the West African nation’s March 11 gubernatorial election, an official announced late Wednesday, citing logistics challenges.
The election for new governors for 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states will now be held on March 18. The move will allow more time for voting machines used in last month’s presidential and legislative elections to be reconfigured and deployed for the upcoming vote, said Festus Okoye, a spokesman for Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, in a statement.
The gubernatorial vote is part of Nigeria’s general elections for four-year single terms for major political positions, including last month’s presidential vote won by the ruling party’s Bola Tinubu. That outcome is being contested by the opposition.
Ahead of the gubernatorial election, a local court on Wednesday approved the electoral body’s request to reset the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, or BVAS machines — part of new technologies heavily used this year in Nigeria elections to make them more transparent.
However, that court ruling came “far too late” for the machines to be reset in time for use in the March 11 election, forcing a one-week extension in the date, the electoral body said.
“This decision has not been taken lightly but it is necessary to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections” and reconfigure them for the coming elections, said Okoye, the electoral body’s spokesman.
Observer groups have criticized the election commission over technological problems that marred the presidential election. Those glitches have become a major highlight in the several challenges filed by the opposition against the ruling party’s victory in the presidential election.
The two main opposition parties have said the glitches gave room for votes to be tampered with and that the electoral body did not follow its own rules and the country’s own election laws in announcing a winner. Runner-up Atiku Abubakar is calling for the cancellation of the presidential election while the candidate who finished third, Peter Obi, has said he has proof he won the contest.
The electoral body said late Wednesday that it is not against the opposition raising legal challenges to the presidential election result. According to Okoye, its spokesman, officials “will continue to grant all litigants access to the materials they require to pursue their cases in court.