Nigeria’s electoral commission has postponed governorship elections planned for this weekend by another week, citing limited time to reset its voting machines nearly two weeks after a controversial presidential vote was disputed by opposition parties.
“This decision has not been taken lightly but it is necessary to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 25th February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections,” electoral body INEC said in a statement late Wednesday.
Nigeria is not new to poll delays. Previous elections in the West African country have been postponed at very short notice, sometimes just one day before they were due to take place.
INEC’s Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), an electronic voting machine configured with fingerprints and facial recognition features, was at the center of the controversy that blighted the February 25 polls.
Voters are accredited with the BVAS device, which also transmits election results from polling stations to an online server. But results were not transmitted on time in the last election, sparking allegations of vote rigging.
Several observers including the European Union said the election fell short of expectations and “lacked transparency.”
The governorship polls originally scheduled for Saturday will now hold on March 18 and will run simultaneously with elections for local parliament representatives.