Nigeria Elections 2023: INEC starts tallying votes.
Nigeria Elections 2023: The tightest election since the end of military rule in 1999 is underway in Nigeria, with the first results expected soon.
However, polling has been postponed in some parts of the country until Sunday, after widespread delays and attacks on polling stations on Saturday.
Voting however, continued through the night in other ares, and high turnout was reported, particularly among young people who account for a third of the 87 million elligible voters.
The election marks the largest democratic exercise in Africa and poses an unprecedented challenge to Nigeria’s two-party system that has dominated the country for 24 years.
Fifteen presidential candidates are vying for the position, with potential winners including Peter Obi from the Labour Party, Bola Tinubu from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
- Nigerian’s vote for their president in a closely contested race.
- Former President Kenyatta holds meeting with Nigeria’s Chief Justice prior to Presidential Election.
- Electoral boss apologises for voting delays
Saturday’s voting was marred by delays at polling stations and reports of ballot-box snatching and armed attacks.
Dr. Nkem Okoli, who was about to vote in the Lekki district of Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, witnessed masked men attacking the polling station.
“They broke [the ballot box], they stole the phones of the officials. Now we can’t vote,” she told the media, describing the chaos and pandemonium.
In some areas of Nigeria, voting did not begin until three and a half hours after the polls were due to close, causing delays and tension in at least five states.
One woman resorted to using her car headlights to light up voting and counting process, highlighting the issues with the lack of resources available.
There are reports of tension in some parts of Lagos and Rivers states, with political parties asking their members to go to the collation centers to prevent the manipulation of votes.
Complaints have also arisen regarding the recently introduced electronic voting system, with many voters accusing officials of refusing to upload results at polling units as required.
In areas where voting went smoothly, results have already been posted outside individual polling stations, with tens of thousands of polling stations’ results set to be added up.
An official from the electoral body in each of Nigeria’s 36 states will then travel to Abuja, where the results will be announced state-by-state. The first announcements are expected later on Sunday, but final results are not likely to be available until at least Monday, and possibly as late as Wednesday.
Mahmood Yakubu, the chair of the electoral commission, in a Saturday press briefing, apologized for the voting delays experienced in the election. He revealed that armed men had attacked some polling units in the southern Delta state and the northern Katsina state, where the voter-card verification machines were stolen. The machines were later replaced, and security heightened to ensure that voting proceeded as planned.
Yakubu also disclosed that in the northeastern state of Borno, militant Islamists had fired at election officials from a mountaintop in the Gwoza region, injuring several officials..
In the lead-up to the Nigerian elections, a failed attempt to redesign the currency resulted in a cash shortage causing widespread chaos at banks and cash machines. The new notes were meant to combat inflation and vote-buying.
A House of Representatives member was arrested on the eve of the election with almost half a million dollars and a list of people he was supposed to give it to.
Whoever emerges as the winner of the presidential election will be tasked with addressing significant economic challenges, including high youth unemployment and a crumbling economy. There were also elections for federal senators, members of the House of Representatives, and state governors, with another vote for state governors scheduled for March.
At 61 years old, Peter Obi has garnered enthusiastic support from certain sectors of Nigeria’s youth, particularly in the southern regions. He is perceived as a relatively new and untarnished figure.
He held the position of governor for Anambra State in the southeast from 2006 to 2014. His supporters, known as the “OBIdients”, maintain that he is the sole candidate with unassailable integrity.
His detractors however, contend that casting a ballot for him is futile since one of the two conventional parties is more likely to triumph.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), formerly in power until 2015, is advocating for Nigerians to elect Mr. Abubakar, aged 76, as their next president. He is the primary candidate hailing from the predominantly Muslim north of the country.
Although he has vied for the presidency five times, he has never won, and allegations of corruption and nepotism have plagued his campaigns. He has however, consistently denied these accusations.
Much of his professional life has been spent in influential positions, including as a senior civil servan, vice-president, and successful businessman.
The election is widely viewed as a referendum on the APC, which has presided over a period of economic hardship and deteriorating security, causing concern for many Nigerians.
Mr. Bola Tinubu, 70, is the APC’s candidate, and is credited with developing Lagos, the country’s commercial hub, during his two-term tenure as governor until 2007.
He is renowned as a political kingmaker in the south-west region, where he wields significant influence. He has also faced allegations of corruption and poor health over the years, which he has consistently denied.
For one to be declared the winner, he must secure the majority of votes and receive at least 25% of the ballots cast in at least two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states.
If no candidate meets these criteria, a run-off will be held within 21 days. This would be a significant first in Nigeria’s history.