The presidential election scheduled for late February could be cancelled or postponed if the current level of insecurity persists in the country, the electoral commission (Inec) warned Monday.
Nigerians are due to choose a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general who is not standing for re-election after two terms in office that have failed to curb the serious security problems plaguing the country (violent jihadist insurgency in the north-east, separatist tensions in the south, rising crime in the north-west and center) on February 25.
“If insecurity is not monitored and reduced, it could lead to the cancellation and/or postponement of the elections in enough constituencies to prevent the announcement of the results,” said Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, one of the heads of the Inec, during a meeting in Abuja.
This scenario could then “cause a constitutional crisis”, hence the need to avoid it at all costs, he said.
In view of the February 25 vote, he stressed, all security forces and election officials must be equipped to deal with “any challenge at any time.
For the elections to be a success, the Inec is “doing everything possible to ensure that complete security is provided for election staff, materials and processes,” he added.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is in the grip of a severe economic crisis and numerous security problems.
On Saturday night, gunmen kidnapped more than 30 people, some of whom were later released, in an attack on a railway station in the south, according to local authorities. Kidnappings are common in Nigeria, particularly in the northwest and central regions.
Inec recently warned of the threat of increased violence during the election campaign, adding that it had recorded at least 50 attacks, including some on its offices, since the exercise began nearly two months ago.
Eighteen candidates are vying to succeed Buhari, including Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).