ABUJA, Nigeria, Feb 7 – Nigeria’s knife-edge presidential elections were thrown into increasing doubt on Saturday as the country’s election commission met following reports that the military was pushing for a delay.
The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, told delegates that there were “new developments” in preparations for next Saturday’s planned poll.
It is understood that the closed-door meeting in Abuja was about reported recommendations from the military high command to delay polling by six weeks.
Nigeria’s Weekly Trust newspaper, which did not quote sources, said the chiefs of defence staff and national security advisor had written to Jega “strongly advising” a six-week postponement.
Troops from Nigeria, backed by soldiers from Chad, Cameroon and Niger, were mounting a regional fight-back against Boko Haram and needed more time to bring security to the troubled region.
As such, no soldiers would be available to provide security next week, the newspaper said.
There was no immediate response from the military when contacted by AFP and INEC has scheduled a news conference for later on Saturday.
Jega has been under mounting pressure to delay polling because of increased fears about the distribution of permanent voter cards to 68.8 million registered electors.
Nigeria’s national security advisor last month called for a delay to ensure that all cards were delivered but INEC has repeatedly ruled out a date change.
On Thursday, Jonathan, Buhari and other former heads of state met in Abuja and again discussed the possibility of a delay. But Jega stood firm.