Friday, February 22, 2019

Nigeria rallies disillusioned voters after postponed elections

Nigerian politicians and businesses have begun introducing measures to encourage people to vote in this weekend's rescheduled presidential and parliamentary elections.

The country's electoral commission delayed the vote just five hours before polls were due to open across Nigeria last Saturday, citing "logistical reasons."

Nigerians can only cast their ballots at polling units in the area where they initially registered, and as a result, there have been concerns over low voter turnout because people who traveled last week may be unwilling (or able to afford) to make another trip to their polling unit after a wasted journey last week.

The Nigerian government has declared the eve of the elections a public holiday, with the exception of bankers and essential service providers.

The holiday is to enable citizens prepare for the election, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement Wednesday, according to local media reports.

"The work-free day is to enable citizens return to their polling units for the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections," the statement read.

Reno Omokri, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan and a stalwart of the main opposition party, People's Democratic Party (PDP), said he is offering free transportation to Nigerians in buses called "Buses for Democracy."

The buses will ferry Nigerians to their various destinations regardless of their political affiliations, Omokri said in Twitter post.

There have been additional reports of efforts made to help in the effort to rally voters ahead of the polls.

Two local airlines have offered discounts to voters to boost turnout at the polls.

Arik Air, a domestic carrier to several destinations around the country, introduced a "Fly to Vote" promotion with one-way tickets pegged at N16,000 (about $45).

The airline says the initiative is to encourage people to vote in Saturday's elections and the state elections scheduled for March 9.

Aero Contractors is offering a similar reduction in flight tickets on all its routes across the country.
Reuters news agency also reported that fuel suppliers would cut the price of petrol, quoting the country's Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.

However, local media reports say the various stakeholders involved in reducing fuel prices have yet to make such decision or indicate they are willing to.

CNN was not immediately able to reach Mohammed for a comment to clarify.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, 76, is standing for re-election and will be running against 71 other candidates for the country's highest office.

His main challenger is Atiku Abubakar, 72, a business tycoon and former vice president.

By Aanu Adeoye


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