Nigeria’s presidential elections scheduled for the end of February could be canceled or postponed if the current level of insecurity persists in the country, the electoral commission (INEC) warned on Monday.
Nigerians must choose a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general who is not running for re-election after two terms that have failed to curb the serious security problems afflicting the country (violent jihadist insurgency in the northeast, separatist tensions in the south, increased crime in the northwest and center) on February 25.
“If insecurity is not monitored and reduced, it could lead to the cancellation and/or postponement of the elections in enough constituencies to prevent the announcement of the results,” Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, one of the Inec officials, said during a meeting. in Abuja.
That scenario could then “provoke a constitutional crisis,” hence the need to avoid it at all costs, he said.
In view of the February 25 vote, he stressed, all security forces and election officials must be equipped to deal with “any challenge at any time.”
For the elections to be a success, Inec is “doing everything possible to ensure that full security is provided for electoral personnel, materials and processes,” it added.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is mired in a severe economic crisis and numerous security problems.
On Saturday night, gunmen kidnapped more than 30 people, some of whom were later released, in an attack on a train station in the south, according to local authorities. Kidnappings are common in Nigeria, particularly in the northwestern and central regions.
The Inec recently warned of the threat of increased violence during the election campaign, adding that it has registered at least 50 attacks, including some on its offices, since the exercise began nearly two months ago.
Eighteen candidates are vying to succeed Buhari, including Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labor Party (LP).