Nigeria's presidential candidates blame each other for surprise vote delay

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A statement issued on Saturday by the US Embassy, noted that it fully supported the position on the joint statement by global election observers on the postponement of the elections. "We and all our citizens believed them".

"This dents the credibility of the election, because at best the election commission was incompetent", said Amaka Anku, a Nigeria analyst at the Eurasia Group.

Mr Yakubu had said the decision to postpone the elections was taken after a meeting with INEC Commissioners, citing "logistics" problems as issues that prompted the postponement. His statement appealed for calm and asserted that his administration does not interfere in the commission's work.

It was learnt that the incidents of arson that took place in INEC offices in Abia, Anambra and Plateau had disorganised the commission's distribution of Card Readers to the extent that a number of states could no longer boast of a full complement of Card Readers.

The opposition party had urged the electoral body to rescind its decision on the suspension of campaigns, a position backed by Festus Keyamo, spokesman of the ruling party's presidential campaign council.

Elsewhere, some Nigerians anguished over rescheduling weddings, exams and other milestones because of the delay.

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For the United States, it said it fully supports the decision of the heads of ECOWAS and other worldwide missions on the postponement of the election in Nigeria.

Nigerians would have been shocked that many registered voters in possession of their Permanent Voter's Cards (PVCs) would have arrived their polling centers on election day, only to discover to their amazement that their names have disappeared from the register in their units.

Both of Nigeria's biggest political parties have condemned the delay, claiming they were unaware of the election commission's unpreparedness.

The decision early Saturday may heighten tensions in what has been a tight race in Africa's biggest democracy between Buhari, a 76-year-old former military ruler, and businessman and ex-vice president Abubakar, 72.

The statement by the country's mission in Nigeria in Abuja on Saturday, encouraged Nigerians to support INEC to conduct free, fair, peaceful and credible elections.

Tens of millions of voters must choose between 76-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari, left, and top challenger Atiku Abubakar, a billionaire former vice-president. This election is a referendum on his record on insecurity, the economy and corruption, all of which he has been criticized by some Nigerians for doing too little too slowly.

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