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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.

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Today, April 2nd, 2011, is the first of three consecutive Saturdays of the national election. Today, millions of Nigerians will go to their polling places, wait for obscene amounts of time to elect members of the National Assembly. Nigerians will elect 90 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives today, choosing candidates from over 50 political parties.

Next Saturday, April 9th is the presidential election, followed by the elections for state governor on April 16.

The buzz word for the next three weeks is “no movement.” Everybody is planning to stay at home on Saturdays, and not move around outside too much because political groups are prone to fighting in the streets and we innocent citizens do not want to be caught in the cross-fire. So for the next three Saturdays I will not be leaving University of Ibadan campus. I will be going around to the UI polling places for the next three Saturday’s to do my own investigation and add insight to the mix.

To put it out in the open, no, I am not voting because I am not Nigerian. You would be surprised at the number of people who ask me that.

234Next, one of Nigeria’s independent newspapers is doing minute by minute coverage of the vote. I am watching it attentively.

Now I am off to the field to find out just what is going on. Follow me on Twitter @TitiOyinbo to see what I uncover.

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