Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan just began last-minute discussions to delay Nigeria’s mid-February elections. It’s the right decision, as the upcoming election will be a nightmare. 68 million voters require plastic identification cards to cast their ballots, but only 24 million have been distributed. Voter confidence in fair elections has accordingly plummeted, from 51% in 2011 (the last presidential race) to a chilly 13% today.
The opposition seeks to stay the course; they fear, with reason, that President Jonathan’s electoral meddling could fudge the election’s outcome. While observers, including John Kerry, have echoed this concern, it’s even more critical that 30 million of these votes can be properly tracked. It doesn’t matter how carefully the votes are counted if only 13% of the population believes in the results.
Former U.S. ambassador Princeton Lyman proposes a year-long Directory à la romaine to exorcise both Boko Haram and local corruption before another round of elections are held. It would be difficult to form this year-long coalition, but even a short delay still improves upon Nigeria’s current situation.
No matter the outcome, we are likely to witness post-electoral religious violence on a greater level than that of 2004, 2007, and 2011. The country will limp on as it has before, hobbled by its corrupt institutions even as it cowers from the depredations of Boko Haram.
UPDATE: Nigeria’s elections have been delayed until March 28.