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Nigeria Awaits Results Of Close Contest; But Buhari In Early Lead
 
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30-Mar-2015  
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Eager Nigerians are highly anticipating results of Saturday’s polls that were extended to yesterday in the most fiercely contested election in the country’s post-independence history that seems likely to wind down to a tense conclusion.

Results are trickling in amid fears that the polarised electorate would clash regardless of the outcome in a country sharply split along ethnic and sectarian lines.

 So far, the party of the incumbent President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), appears to be trailing that of the opposition candidate, Muhammed Buhari,  the All People’s Congress (APC), in 10 states where votes have been counted and results  declared.

 At the time of going to press yesterday, results monitored indicated that Buhari was leading with 444 273, while Jonathan had garnered 300 836 in 10 provisional results released so far.

Voters on Saturday crowded around polling stations in Kano, the north’s largest city, a packed metropolis of more than five million, as hitches in the process added to the tension.

More than two-hour late arrival by election officials in some places, and malfunctioning of electronic registration machines — part of a new system designed to limit endemic fraud — stymied voters in some areas.

In the background of this year’s vote hovered Boko Haram violent insurgency stretching into a sixth year. The tide appeared to have turned in the fight against the Islamists in the period right before the election — particularly during the six-week delay demanded by the military chiefs — after years of half-hearted engagement by the Nigerian military.

South African mercenaries hired by the government have made a substantial difference, officials in the north, diplomats and analysts said.

Meanwhile Nigeria is calm, but the citizens are waiting with bated breath for the declaration of the results of an election which has been marked by isolated instances of postponement and pockets of violent attacks in some areas that resulted in some deaths.

In reassuring messages, President  Jonathan and the four-time presidential hopeful, General Buhari, have called on their supporters and Nigerians in general to exercise restraint and allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to complete the process.

The Daily Graphic can confirm that 24 hours after election day (E-Day), most of the areas that could not vote on E-Day (a little over 500) exercised their franchise and it is expected that 48 hours after this, the Chairman of the INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, will declare the winner of the most keenly contested presidential election since 1999. 

Nigeria has over 130,000 polling units.

Attacks/Deaths
Reports indicated that Borno, Gombe and Yobe witnessed various armed attacks by either hoodlums or suspected Islamist insurgents, resulting in the death of about 15 people, including a local lawmaker and a soldier.

The first of the attacks happened in the neighbouring villages of Birin Bolawa and Birin Fulani in the Nafada District in Gombe, where a member of the Gombe State House of Assembly, Alhaji Umar Aminu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and several others are feared killed by insurgents.

In Borno State, Boko Haram insurgents fired at residents of Miringa in the Biu Local Government Area who had queued for accreditation, killing eight of them, with several others sustaining life-threatening injuries.

Also, at least one soldier and three other people were feared killed in various parts of Rivers State.

The Brigade Commander, 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Brigadier General Koko Essien, said the soldier was killed when hoodlums opened fire on security agents on election duty in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

Elections
In spite of those isolated cases of attacks, most Nigerians sacrificed their personal comfort, time and resources to ensure that the elections went on smoothly, with some of them staying from 8 a.m. till late into the night.

 Verification was supposed to have started at 8 a.m. at every polling unit, but that was delayed in most areas by the late arrival of electoral officers and their materials, as well as malfunctioning of verification machines.

Inundated with increasing reports of faulty card readers, the INEC had to break its own rule around 10 a.m. and issue a blanket statement for polling units to resort to the manual verification of voters.

Jonathan/Buhari vote
Astonishingly, at Polling Unit 39, Ward 13 in President Jonathan’s home town of Otuoke, Bayelsa State, he had to be manually accredited because the card reader failed to read his biometrics.

The President, who had arrived at the polling centre about 9 a.m. with his wife, Mrs Patience Jonathan, could not be accredited until about 11 a.m. when he was accredited manually using the incident form. 

That notwithstanding, he described the process as good and asked for patience for the INEC.

“President Jonathan is just one voter. So even if we have a problem with my own card, as long as the process is going on well across the nation, it is okay. Definitely they will sort out mine. I can't be a ghost voter. Everybody knows me…,’’ he said.

Luckily, at a polling unit in his home town, Daura in Katsina State, General Buhari and his wife, Aisha, were accredited  about 9 a.m.  

He told journalists that he was unhappy with the reported decision to delay accreditation in areas where card readers had glitches.

Security/Lock-downs
From 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. last Saturday, almost all the states in the federation witnessed a lock-down, where people were not allowed to move from their immediate communities to any other area. Only marked vehicles, especially accredited vehicles for the security agencies, media houses, local and international observers and INEC, were allowed to move around the country.

At armed military mounted checkpoints at vantage areas on main roads, accredited vehicles were searched thoroughly before they were offered access to reach their destinations.

Areas that were notoriously associated with heavy vehicular traffic jams even on Sundays and holidays were turned into footballs fields by some residents.

Last Friday, most vehicle owners queued at filling stations to fill their tanks, while others trooped in their numbers to markets and supermarkets to buy stocks that would last them some days, in case of any instability.

Patriotism
Patriotism was at its best, as the electorate who resolved to own the process were undaunted through their actions. Voters — old, young and sick — stood in the scorching sun till officials arrived or, in some cases, verification machines were replaced or manual accreditation was done.

 
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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