Abuja: Nigerians turned out in large
numbers at polling centres across the country on Saturday in what
they hope will be the first credible presidential election for
decades in Africa`s most populous nation.
The election will decide whether President Goodluck
Jonathan would continue for the next four years or be replaced
by one of the other three contenders. Jonathan came to power
last year when his predecessor died in office following a
Braving scotching sun and hot weather, determined
voters formed long queues at polling stations.
Land borders were closed, vehicular movements
restricted and curfew imposed to ensure adequate security
during the election period.
There was no sign of the chaos and violence that has
dogged past elections although two bombs panicked voters in
the troubled northeastern city of Maiduguri. There were no
reports of casualties.
A suspected member of the Boko Haram sect that
preaches against Western education was arrested by the Nigeria
police in connection with the blast.
Even violence and further threats of attacks from
Muslim sect, Boko Haram did not discourage the electorate who
felt the only way to tackle such things was to bring in a good
president for this oil rich African country crippled by
corrupt politicians, said Ananti Nwanneamaka, a local polls
Despite surprising gains by some opposition parties in
the parliamentary elections conducted a week earlier,
incumbent Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP) is favoured to win as his rivals failed to unite against
He is contesting against ex-military ruler Gen
Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC),
former anti-graft boss Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of
Nigeria (ACN) and governor of Kano State Ibrahim Shekarau of
the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
The most formidable contender to Jonathan, a
Christian from the south, is former military head of state,
General Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim whose support base is the
Islamic majority northern part of the country where he hails
Jonathan voted in his hometown, Otuoke, in southern
Bayelsa state located in the oil producing area of the country
while Buhari voted in his hometown Daura, in northern Katsina
Results the presidential election are expected to be
out in 48 hours and the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) has ordered all polling units to display
their results immediately after counting.
The enthusiastic turnout may not be unrelated to the
high level of credibility seen in parliamentary poll conducted
last Saturday, Benjamin Mbama, a voter at Egbe area of the
country`s commercial nerve centre of Lagos, told PTI.
"We have finished voting at this polling unit and I
will stay here until the counting. I don`t want anybody to
tamper with my effort," Mbama added.
At Shasha Jayeoba Town Hall polling booth, also
in Lagos, another voter, Stanley Ogedengbe said he may not be
able to stay and wait for the counting but will hurry home and
come back by 6pm when the counting would start.
Senate president David Mark while casting his vote at
Oturkpo Ward One in northern Benue state told politicians to
appreciate the electorate when they do the right thing and not
to cast aspersion on them.
He commended the resilience and perseverance of
Nigerian electorate saying, "We have accepted democracy as a
way of life and there is no going back"
Nigeria has 36 states and on April 26 the country will
witness another significant election for influential state
governors and their legislators with some federal legislative
elections also postponed till the same date.
Nigeria with a population of 150 million is divided
between a largely Muslim North and mostly Christian South and
this plays significant role on who gains more from voters.
The oil rich country returned to democratic system in
1999 after several years of military rule. It has conducted
elections every four years since then.
It is the third time general elections are being held
in Nigeria since military rule ended.
The previous ones - in 2003 and 2007 - were marred by
allegations of widespread rigging, voter intimidation and
ballot vote snatching.