Nigeria’s president and the leading opposition candidate urged people to remain calm after a national election scheduled for Saturday was postponed by a week just five hours before polls were due to open.
However, the opposition candidate, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, later accused President Muhammadu Buhari of instigating the delay to “disenfranchise” the electorate.
Early on Saturday morning, just as Nigerians began heading out to polling stations, Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the electoral commission said it was no longer feasible to hold free and fair elections on Saturday due to logistical problems.
The vote will now be held on Feb. 23, the chairman said. But the delay still threw the country, where some 84 million people have registered to vote, into renewed political uncertainty.
Past elections in Nigeria have been marred by violence, intimidation and ballot-rigging, and the postponement raised the possibility of unrest.
Mr Yakubu later said the postponement was caused by delays in transporting electoral materials.
“Our decision was entirely taken by the commission. It has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence, nothing to do with availability of resources,” Mr Yakubu, chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), told a gathering of foreign election observers and reporters.