As Nigerians say, “they tried.” The third nationwide vote in Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999 almost started successfully today. Due to an unfortunate logistical mishap of ballot materials, specifically result sheets, the elections for National Assembly have been postponed until Monday, April 4th. I heard the news this morning via Twitter (it really is an amazing news medium) that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cancelled the vote and was currently holding a press conference about it. I rushed to the TV to watch the chairman, Attahiru Jega apologize to millions of Nigerians who had been standing in line since early morning hoping to cast their votes only to find out it is postponed.
Apparently, planes that brought paper ballots and results sheets into Nigeria from four different countries-including Japan-were delayed and did not land in Lagos until late Friday night, giving INEC officials little time to disperse them to the polling places throughout Nigeria. Some cities, especially those with smaller populations, received materials and successfully carried out the voting process. Since Jega cancelled today’s election, those citizens who were able to vote this morning will have to return to the polling places Monday morning to do it again. No movement on Monday means another national holiday is likely, giving Nigerians a four-day weekend. We’ll see how it goes.