LAGOS, Nigeria – As Nigeria began verifying information on its new voter roll Monday, it appeared that new problems confronted the West African nation's election commission.
In Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, an Associated Press reporter found that several polling stations had no election staff, no waiting voters, nor any registration lists. Voters have until Friday to verify their information ahead of April elections, which include a crucial presidential poll in the oil-rich nation.
Teachers at Hope Primary School, which was shut down for a couple of weeks to serve as a polling station, didn't seem to be aware that a verification exercise was supposed to take place.
The problem appeared to be occurring in other states across the country as well, the latest trouble to strike a voter registration effort marred by technical problems and a lack of equipment. Kayode Idowu, a spokesman for the Independent National Electoral Commission, said the lists should be available soon across the country.
"In some places the lists are up, and in some other places they are not up yet," Idowu told the AP. "It's not been postponed, but we've had logistic issues all over the country."
Voter registration lists in Nigeria, a democracy for just over a decade, included the names of Mike Tyson, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali during a 2007 election roundly rejected by international observers for being rigged. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is contesting the poll, has promised a free and fair election this year.
To that end, Jonathan appointed Attahiru Jega, an academic with popular appeal, to head the nation's electoral commission. The electoral body has spent more than $230 million to purchase laptop computers, digital cameras and fingerprint scanners to register voters across the country. However, many complained about the equipment as the registration drive took place.
Election officials say they've registered more than 63.9 million Nigerians for the coming vote, out of an estimated eligible voter pool of about 70 million. The election, staggered over three weeks, also includes polls for state governors and the National Assembly.
Independent National Electoral Commission: http://www.inecnigeria.org/