Nigeria has postponed its parliamentary election until next Saturday - the second such delay in two days. There is a positive aspect to the shambles of the Nigerian parliamentary elections, originally delayed for 48 hours and now delayed for a week.
It shows that Nigeria, competing with South Africa for leadership of the African continent (it has the population and oil for starters), realizes that fair and free elections are a prerequisite for leadership status.
It also has the example of the nearby Ivory Coast in the grips of civil war to demonstrate the depth of the abyss that disputed elections can lead to. For some of the voters this means going back to the polls after they have already cast their votes. The delay was necessitated by the fact that at many polling stations, the staff and voting papers failed to materialize.
The ruling People's Democratic Party had brought in Professor Attahiru Jega to head the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), in the hope that he could restore credibility to an electoral process that in past ballots had wound up in the courts, with the courts ruling that collusion had occurred between the commission and the People's Democratic Party and overturning the result. .
Professor Jega defended the vote delay "as emanating from a cross section of stakeholders, including political parties and civil society organisations," "We are more determined now to ensure that the 2011 elections are free, fair and credible."
The delay in the parliamentary vote means that the presidential and state governor votes will also be moved back.
The parliamentary vote is for 109 Senate seats and 360 seats in the House of Representatives. The main opposition parties, Action Congress of Nigeria and the Congress for Progressive Change,, aim to cut the majority the People’s Democratic Party won in both houses four years ago by saying it failed to reduce poverty, corruption and violence.
While some saw the hand of the People's Democratic Party in the fiasco, Alhaji Yusuf the national president of Goodluck Nigeria campaign organization, working for the reelection of President Goodluck Jonathan, told the Nigerian Tribune that he had advised Professor Attahiru Jega, to get his act together in the conduct of the general election, as a way to avoid smearing the good image President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration enjoys.
“President Jonathan did his homework very well before appointing him as INEC chairman. He should not make the president regret his action."