Nigerian lawmakers postpone key election meeting

Nigerian lawmakers on Tuesday postponed a key election meeting about a spending proposal for February polls, raising fears that the election may be delayed.

Last month, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari sent a supplementary budget to lawmakers requesting a reallocation of 229 billion naira ($633m) partly to help fund the vote next year.

Estimating the cost of the general election at 242 billion naira ($670m), Buhari asked for lawmakers to reallocate 164 billion naira ($453m) to the electoral body now and the remainder from the 2019 budget.

But lawmakers said in a statement that they had not received the proper documents necessary to approve the reallocation, adding that the timing was inconvenient because many members of the necessary committees have "travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj".

The tussle over election funding is yet another sign of discord between the executive and legislature in the run-up to polls next year.

Buhari, a 75-year-old former general running for a second term, is facing growing competition for the presidency following a raft to defections to the opposition in recent weeks.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has a history of delaying elections.

In 2015, the electoral commission delayed polls by six weeks in order to protect voters from Boko Haram jihadists and distribute biometric voter cards.

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