Five weeks before a presidential election, Nigeria’s electoral commission said on Friday it has not yet finished printing the cards that voters will need to present at polling stations. Of the cards that are ready, about 15 million have not yet been collected by voters, sometimes because of apathy or geographical remoteness, said electoral commission spokesman Kayode Idowu, while insisting everything would be ready on time. Commission data showed no voter cards at all had been delivered to Borno state, the region worst hit by Boko Haram militants. More than 10,000 people died last year in the violence. The Feb. 14 election in Africa’s biggest economy and leading energy producer is expected to be a close contest between President Goodluck Jonathan and his leading challenger, Muhammadu Buhari. Its conduct will be closely watched, since past polls have been marred by widespread ballot-stuffing, violence and in some cases outright fabrication of results.
Across the country, 38.8 million voters have retrieved their cards, out of the 54.3 million that the commission, known as INEC, had produced by the end of last year, Idowu said.
“We’re making this data public to remind people to pick up their cards. We can’t take it to their homes,” he said. INEC was setting up more pickup locations outside the main towns to make it easier for rural voters. He declined to comment on how many cards were left to print and distribute.