NigeriaDecides2023: Nigerians go to the polls in tense presidential election


Abuja, Nigeria

Widespread delays surrounded a crucial presidential election in Nigeria on Saturday, as millions of people voted to choose their new leader. Along with the election of representatives for the country’s parliament, it is being hotly contested.

CNN confirmed eyewitness reports of isolated violence at two polling stations in Lagos, forcing the military to intervene. CNN has reached out to INEC for comment.

In chaotic scenes at a polling unit in Maraba, an Abuja suburb, a large crowd of voters struggled to cast their ballots, a CNN team witnessed. Those who did manage to vote did so in full glare of those standing by, in violation of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines establishing privacy for voters.

“People are voting in open spaces, and everyone can see who they are voting for. There is no privacy. I will not be surprised if this polling unit is cancelled,” said Elias Ajunwa, a registered voter.

Ajunwa expressed uneasiness about the situation. “There is a possibility of any goon carrying INEC materials because of how weak INEC officials and their materials are,” he added.

about 93 million Nigerians According to the electoral body INEC, people in the country of 200 million are registered to vote, but only 87 million Holders of a Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), a key requirement to cast a vote. The election will be Africa’s biggest democratic exercise.

Nigeria's Labor Party candidate Peter Obi casts his vote during the presidential election in Agulu, Nigeria.

Barry Andrews, chief observer of the European Union Observation Mission to Nigeria, told CNN it was premature to draw any conclusions about the extensive delay.

“We have taken note of those reports and we will be looking across the country to see if this is a pattern or if it has in any way impeded or frustrated the exercise of people’s political rights to vote or It has caused people to drift away. As of now, it is premature to draw any conclusions about this. ”

People were still waiting to cast their ballots, even though the polls were expected to close by 2:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET). Voting did not begin until after the scheduled opening hours at some polling stations.

The opening of a polling station in Lagos was delayed as officials were still setting up polls after they opened, a CNN team testified. An official urged eager voters to remain calm and “be kind to each other” as they waited.

According to Reuters, the same issue blocked several other polling places, including northern Kano state and southern Bayelsa state, with no election officials in sight as of 8:30 a.m. local time. In past elections, voters in some areas have complained that polling stations opened hours late or not at all.

Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) set up voting materials at a polling station in Ojuelegba, Lagos on February 25, 2023 before polls opened.

Nigeria's president and All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate during the general election Bola Tinubu and his wife Oluremi Tinubu arrive to vote at a polling station in Lagos on Saturday.

At the end of voting, the ballots will be counted at the polling stations and transmitted electronically in real-time to INEC’s. Result Viewing Portal (IReV)The first of its kind in Nigeria, the commission told CNN.

“With the Electronic Transmission System (IREV), the people will know the winners even before the official announcement,” added Rotimi Oyekanmi, spokesperson for INEC Chairperson.

To win, a candidate must collect the required number of ballots to cover 25% of the votes spread across 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states. In the absence of this, there will be a run-off between the top two candidates within 21 days.

According to pre-election polls, 18 candidates for Nigeria’s top are on the ballot, but three are leading the race for the popular vote.

One of the leading contenders is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party of term-limited President Muhammadu Buhari. Another is the main opposition leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. And a third strong contender, Peter Obi, is running under the lesser-known Labor Party, upending early predictions of the presidential vote, which is usually a two-horse race between the ruling and opposition parties. .

Seventy-year-old Tinubu, 70, is a former governor of Nigeria’s wealthy Lagos state, who wields significant influence in the South-West region where he is known as a political godfather and kingmaker.

He is proud Helping in the selection Buhari’s presidency and declares that it is now his turn to lead the country.

The candidate for the opposition PDP, Abubakar, 76, is a former Nigerian vice president and a tycoon who made his fortune by investing in various sectors in the country.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Peter Obi, and Atiku Abubakar

Here’s what to know about Nigeria’s presidential election

Abubakar’s presidential bid (his sixth attempt) raised concerns that this might happen An unauthorized usurpation arrangement To rotate the presidency between the northern and southern regions of Nigeria, since he is from the same northern region as the outgoing leader, Buhari.

The Labor Party’s Obi is a two-time former governor of south-eastern Anambra state and is seen as a credible alternative to the two leading candidates by a group of his supporters, mostly young Nigerians who call themselves ‘obedient’.

Obi is also the only Christian among the leading candidates. Since Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in 1999, its southeastern region has yet to produce a president or vice president.

Labor Party presidential candidate Peter Obi (C) speaks to the media outside a polling station in Amatutu, Western Anambra State on Saturday.

Tinubu, of the ruling party from the religiously mixed southwestern part of the country, is a Muslim and has also chosen a Muslim running mate, despite the country’s unofficial tradition of mixed-faith presidential tickets.

All of the top three candidates are confident that they can change Nigeria’s fortunes if voted into power, as the country grapples with a myriad of economic and security problems that range from fuel and cash shortages to increasing terrorist attacks, high are up to inflation and a depreciating local currency.

Vendu, a voter, told CNN’s Larry Madowo in Lagos on Saturday that the most important issue is security: “We need someone who has a grip and an understanding of the security challenges we have. The economy is in free fall. We need someone who has a real understanding of what we need to get better. ”

A voter casts his vote at a polling station in Amatutu in western Anambra state on Saturday.

The security forces of Nigeria Mobilized workers To ensure smooth election campaign across the country.

The run-up to the election has been fraught with violence, fueled by protests against unpopular government policies and deadly attacks by armed criminal gangs.

On Wednesday, there was a senatorial candidate of the Labor Party His campaign vehicle was shot and burnt in the country’s southeastern Enugu state, police said.

Electoral body INEC has suspended the election in Enugu East Senatorial District following the death of a candidate. tweeted On Saturday, he said that the elections will now be held on March 11.

Prior to the assassination, violent protests had erupted in states across Nigeria as citizens protested the shortage of gasoline and subsequent cash shortages at petrol outlets. Controversial currency redesign.

INEC has not been spared the chaos; It has facilities burned to in the parts of the country.

Voting on was cancelled More than 200 planned polling units Due to security concerns, INEC said voters across Nigeria were moved to other polling stations.

Before the elections, the National Police The ban has been ordered Movement of non-essential vehicles and waterways from midnight to 6 pm on Election Day, while the country’s immigration service has ordered Closing Nigeria’s land borders Saturday midnight to Sunday midnight.

Weeks before polling day, the service was More than 6000 voter cards seized From illegal immigrants who had other national documents.

An officer of the Department of State Services (DSS) stands guard at a polling station in Amatutu in Anambra Western State on Saturday.

INEC spokesperson Oyekanemi however insists that the election results will be free and fair.

“The experience of Nigerians for the 2023 elections will be much better than the previous elections and the integrity (of the elections) will be clear for all to see,” Oyekanami told CNN days before the elections.

The final results are expected to be declared a few days after the polls.

Current President Buhari tweeted On Thursday: “There should be no riots or acts of violence after the declaration of election results. All complaints, personal or institutional, should be referred to the respective courts.”

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