In Nigeria, voters are banking on defending a free election
AWKA (NIGERIA) – Nigerians of all ages were determined to ensure a credible election result by patrolling polling stations when the first results of a presidential election began arriving on Sunday.
In the southern city of Port Harcourt, a dozen people remained at their polling station late Saturday after the count was completed, shouting at the polling officer to destroy unused ballots.
“The blank ballots, we want them to void them so they don’t use them!” exclaimed Nkechi Njoku, 42, who sells fabric, saying she hasn’t left since she came to vote in the morning .
“We protect our voices,” agreed Robert Ihuoma, a 38-year-old data analyst standing next to her.
Nearly 90 million people were eligible to vote for a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is stepping down after two terms marked by deteriorating security and rising poverty.
The top three candidates vying for the job are former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu, 70, of the ruling All Progressives Congress, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party, 76, and surprise candidate Peter Obi, 61, from the Labor Party.
Voting was mostly peaceful, but uploading results to the central online database has been slow and fears of tampering are growing.
In the southeastern city of Onitsha — in a region of Anambra state known for separatist violence and also Obi’s home state — voters gathered outside kiosks on Sunday hoping to read reports of early election results.
“If Obi doesn’t win, we know there was a problem somewhere,” said Ben Obah, 55, while reading a daily newspaper.
– impatience –
Near the city’s St. Mary’s Church, Franklin Arinze said he will pray that the “cheaters will not be elected.”
Voting was mostly peaceful in the state capital of Awka, but many people stayed up late to watch the count.
Hundreds of people, mostly students, counted aloud along with a polling officer showing the ballots one by one at a polling station of Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
“Right now the choice seems free and fair. I really hope it will be,” said 24-year-old Kelvin Modilim.
But nearby voting continued late into the night, sparking anger.
“Voting didn’t even start until 12:00 p.m. They said the machine didn’t work. That’s not normal. I will wait all night, I came to vote and I will do it,” said 21-year-old student Blessing Mbanefo.
Voters in Port Harcourt, capital of oil-rich Rivers State, voiced similar fears.
In Oginigba town hall in Obio Akpor area, the situation was chaotic on Saturday afternoon.
Hundreds of people surrounded the poll worker who was trying to register voters, who were yelling at her, waving their voter IDs and shoving others.
“I’ve been here since 8:00 a.m. and I haven’t voted yet. We want to vote out the bad government! Most of us here are obidients, so we’re waiting,” said Josephine Samuel, 29, a marketing student.
The determination to vote freely was also strong in Lagos, which has the highest number of registered voters.
At a primary school in the Yaba area, young voters “monitored” a polling station on Saturday to “ensure” people were able to cast their votes freely.
Suddenly, fighting broke out because “everyone could see people voting.” As the election commissioner agreed to move the polling booth, shots rang out in the distance.
“They want to scare us because a lot of people here want change,” said Jide, 35, who came back from Cameroon, where he lives, to elect “a good president, a president for the youth.”
– ‘Better future’ –
Only 20 percent of the presidential election results were available on the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as of Sunday morning.
The commission has 14 days to officially announce the results, but an online evaluation could be made available in the next few hours or days.
Meanwhile, the Foursquare Gospel Church in Lagos held a joyful morning celebration on Sunday.
“Nigeria is looking forward to change and a brighter future,” said Pastor Ibironke Lamidi, who wore a glittery blue dress.
It is now “in God’s hands that a credible candidate wins”.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch