Nigeria should delay elections planned for next month to give organisers more time to distribute millions of biometric ID cards to voters, Sambo Dasuki, the national security adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, said on Thursday.
Reuters reports that Dasuki said during a talk at London think-tank Chatham House that he had discussed the matter with the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and had said a delay within the time allowed by the law would be a good idea.
“That is what we are encouraging at the moment,” he said.
The elections will be the first where voters have to have a biometric card, introduced to guard against fraud that has plagued past polls.
Dasuki said INEC had distributed 30 million cards in the past year but had another 30 million to hand out.
He said INEC had assured him it would achieve this in time for the February date, but he thought it would make more sense to take more time. He added that there was a 90-day window during which the election could legally take place.
“It costs you nothing, it’s still within the law,” Dasuki said he had told the INEC chairman.
Dasuki said it was for INEC and not for him to decide.
“What sense does it make to vote three months early when there are 30 million cards still with INEC? That’s my position,” Dasuki said.
“Why are they not ready? Why should we postpone? We say ‘no’ to postponement,” Lai Mohammed, spokesman of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), told Reuters. “They know that if they don’t postpone they can’t win. They are just terrified.”
INEC spokesman Kayode Idowu said there were currently no plans to delay.
“It is not a conversation of the commission’s at all. As far as we are talking now, the date is what it is,” Idowu said.