Africa

Nigeria elections: No delay to poll, says council of state

A woman sits beside an electoral poster of Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan during the flag-off for his campaign for a second term in office, in Lagos on 8 January 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Millions of voters still do not have their biometric ID cards

Nigeria's influential council of state has decided to press ahead with presidential elections on 14 February, rejecting calls for a postponement.

Nigeria's national security adviser had called for a delay to allow more time for voter card distribution.

The country is also facing mounting attacks from the Boko Haram militant group.

But Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha said election officials had insisted they were "very ready".

President Goodluck Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari in the vote, expected to be the most tightly contested since military rule ended in 1999.

The council of state - including the main presidential candidates, ex-leaders, state governors and election officials - met in the capital, Abuja, on Thursday to discuss the election.

"No decision was taken to change the date. The date remains February 14. INEC (the Independent National Electoral Commission) reassured us that they are prepared to conduct the election," Mr Okorocha told journalists.

Several of Nigeria's smaller opposition parties, as well as national security adviser Sambo Dasuki, had been urging a postponement of the poll.

But Mr Buhari's APC party opposed the delay.

APC campaign media head Malam Garba Shehu said a delay would have caused a crisis and "made Nigeria the laughing stock of the civilised world", in a statement seen by Reuters.

Polling will not be conducted in Boko Haram-controlled areas. Some 69 million Nigerians out of a population of 177 million are eligable to vote.

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