Nigerians defy election delays with hope for change
LAGOS: Nigerians longed for change and flocked to vote on Saturday in what many hope will be a fairer election for a new leader who would lift the country from widespread insecurity and economic malaise.
From the poor neighborhoods of the economic capital of Lagos to the dusty streets of the northwest’s second-biggest city of Kano, Nigerian voters cast their ballot in a hard-fought race between three frontrunner candidates for the presidency.
Long voting delays or technical problems with biometric identification devices frustrated some in Lagos, Kano and southern oil hub Port Harcourt, but still people said the election was too important to miss.
The streets in Lagos and other cities were mostly empty of vehicles and people strolled, sat and chatted or played football on empty streets. Soldiers and police kept watch from sentries stationed near the towns.
“I am pleased to exercise my right to vote to elect our leaders. We’ve suffered enough in this country,” said 31-year-old fashion designer Josephine Patrick during the Lagos vote.
“I hope this election brings about the change that we want.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, says it doesn’t know when the results will be ready, but they have promised to make the process quick.
Supporters of the ruling congressional candidate All Progressives Congress, or the APC party, Bola Tinubu, 70, see the best hope for change in the former Lagos governor and longtime political kingmaker.
“He has the experience,” said Tairu Aramide, 57, a street cook who voted for Tinubu and said she stayed in front of her INEC station because she lives far away.
Long waiting times
“He has done a lot for Lagos as governor, he will create jobs and develop the infrastructure that the country desperately needs.”
Supporters of Atiku Abubakar, 76, of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party or PDP, say he brings experience from his time as vice president.
But none of the 70-year-old leaders are appealing to some voters drawn to Peter Obi, the surprise Labor Party third candidate whom they see as the only one offering real change.
“Obi is the choice for Nigeria. We have expected so much from previous leaders,” said Stephen Franklin, 36, at the Port Harcourt vote. “We see Obi capable of taking the country to the next level, we want to place our trust in him.”
But voting wasn’t easy for some.
World Trade Organization director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian from south-eastern Abia state, tweeted that her polling station was closed three hours into the official polling time.
“The INEC officials have finally arrived. My husband and I just voted,” she wrote.
“The turnout is incredible, the highest I’ve seen in all the years I’ve voted in the village.”
“A New Nigeria”
In Kano, the economic center of the predominantly Muslim north, huge crowds formed outside a polling station in Nasarawa district and waited all morning for election officials to arrive.
In Port Harcourt, the oil town in southern Rivers State, poll workers and ballot papers showed up late at many polling stations.
Once set up, some biometric voter identification devices used to prevent fraud would not work, meaning voting could not begin.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike took his wife to his polling station to vote, but left soon after because the machine malfunctioned.
“I am very disappointed. I waited 25 minutes,” he said, adding that he would be back.
“Let’s vote manually! We’re being disenfranchised,” said Michael Wakina, 45, an official. “We are not happy.”
But like many others, he vowed to wait. “We have to wait. We have to vote for change, this election is very important.”
Norbert Okeke, 42, an auto parts dealer, said he would stay as long as necessary.
“I’m staying here until I vote with my conscience. Even until 3 a.m. I’ll be here,” he said. “The current government has disappointed everyone. We want a new Nigeria.”
Source: Crypto News Deutsch