Nigeria election: Citizens brave long delays to vote

Kano, Nigeria –

Nigeria’s presidential election was marked by long delays at some polling stations on Saturday but hopes of a reset after years of worsening violence and hardship under outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari It didn’t deter the many voters out there.

Africa’s most populous country is plagued by Muslim riots in the northeast, rampant kidnapping for ransom, conflicts between nomads and farmers, shortages of cash, fuel and electricity, deep-seated corruption and poverty. increase.

Reuters reporters across the country saw mixed results on Election Day, with some polling stations closing at the scheduled time of 2:30 pm (1330 GMT) and others not yet open. Some suspended voting because they ran out of ballots.

“I’m waiting here to vote. said he hadn’t.

Retired army general Buhari, who is resigning after serving the maximum eight years allowed by the constitution, has failed to deliver on his promise to restore order and security across Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer.

Candidates from two parties that have alternated in power since the end of military rule in 1999 face an unusually strong challenge from candidates from minor parties popular among younger voters.

Officials at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blamed the delays on technical problems with the new biometric fraud-proof voter certification system, delays in arriving vehicles to transport them, and lack of voter registers. I am listing.

“I am frustrated that INEC is not ready for us. All we want is to vote” Niger Delta.

In a televised news briefing, INEC Chairman Mahmoud Yakub said six biometric devices had been stolen in northern Katsina state and two in southern Delta state. He also acknowledged the delay but said voters would be able to vote.

“Elections will be held and no one will be disenfranchised,” he said.

INEC had said before Election Day that those who got in line on time would be able to vote even after official closing hours.

three way race

With seats in the National Assembly also taken away, more than 93 million people registered to vote in some 176,600 polling stations scheduled to open at 8:30 am.

The final tally from the 36 states and the federal capital Abuja is expected within five days after the vote.

The killing of a senator candidate in the volatile southeastern region on Wednesday, the latest in a string of serious incidents, has spoiled preparations for the vote with violence.

There were reports of sporadic incidents on Saturday, though not on the scale seen in the last election.

In Lagos, a Reuters TV crew watched police arrest four men on suspicion of intimidating voters. Meanwhile, election observers from local civil society groups said they saw thugs armed with knives, chains and bottles destroying ballot boxes.

In most areas, however, the day appeared to be unfolding peacefully despite complaints about delays.

The main candidates for Buhari’s succession are former Lagos governor Bora Tinub, 70, of the ruling All Progressive Congress, former vice-president of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party Atiku Abu Bakar, 76, and former Anambra governor Peter Obi, 61. Smaller Labor Party.

All three voted in their respective states, surrounded by a chaotic scrum of reporters and supporters.

“The electoral process cannot achieve 100% perfection,” Tinub told reporters after the vote. “People have to accept it. They have to accept the consequences.”

Both Tinub and Atiku, as they are known in Nigeria, are political heavyweights with decades-long networks. Both Muslims, Tinub is Yoruba from the southwest and Atiku is a Fulani from the northeast.

A Christian of Igbo ethnicity, Obi doesn’t have many political tools, but he has used a slick social media campaign to generate great enthusiasm among young voters, some even calling himself a ” Some even call it obedience.

INEC says its new Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), which uses biometric data to identify voters, will help prevent fraud. A Reuters reporter in some regions said authorities were having trouble getting his BVAS devices working, while in others the systems were working smoothly.

Despite INEC’s precautionary measures, analysts warn there is still a risk that underfunded citizens may be vulnerable to vote-buying attempts by candidates.

(Additional by Tife Owolabi of Yenagoa, Abraham Achirga of Kano, Garba Muhammad of Kaduna, Temilade Adelaja and Seun Sanni of Agul, MacDonald Dzirutwe of Lagos, Tim Cocks, Vining Ogu and James Oatway, Camillus Eboh and Edwin Waita of Abuja and Anamasele. Reported by Igboereteonwu in Onitsha Written by Estelle Shirbon Edited by Frances Kerry and Andrew Heavens)

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