Nigeria vote count under way amid some extended polling
Nigerians are still voting in a national election in a few parts of the country where technical and other glitches prevented voting from taking place as scheduled on Saturday.
Vote counting was already under way in other places during the historically tight race between three frontrunners competing for the presidency of Africa’s most populous nation.
Nearly 90 million voters were eligible to vote in Saturday’s election, which was largely peaceful, although isolated violence, delays and technical hitches forced many to wait until the evening, or Sunday, to vote.
After two terms under President Muhammadu Buhari, many Nigerians hope a new leader can do a better job of tackling the widespread insecurity, joblessness and growing poverty afflicting their nation.
The election pits former Lagos governor and APC candidate Bola Tinubu, 70, against his old rival, former vice president and PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar, who at 76 is on his sixth bid for the nation’s top job.
But for the first time since the end of military rule in 1999, a third-party candidate, Labour’s Peter Obi, has challenged the APC and PDP dominance with a campaign message of change.
Several Lagos polling booths were ransacked on Saturday, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), voter ID machines were stolen in other states and voting at 141 polling units in southern Bayelsa State was to take place on Sunday after the ballot was disrupted.
Reuters news agency reported people casting their votes at polling stations in Yenagoa city, in Nigeria’s oil-producing south, on Sunday.
“The whole process is an absolute mess,” Preye Iti, a 60-year-old civil servant, said before voting in Yenagoa, where voting could not take place in some parts on Saturday because election officers and materials did not arrive on time.
“I waited from 8:30am to 6:30pm yesterday. Now I’m back here at 8:30am again.”
Besides Yenagoa, voting was also expected to continue in some parts of northeastern Borno state on Sunday, where voting machines failed to work the previous day.
The electoral commission said late on Saturday that election would continue in several wards in Yenagoa and where there were cases of election officers and materials failing to turn up on Saturday.
It added that official nationwide results could be expected late on Sunday. The final election tally is expected within five days.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Enugu in the southeast, said one of the main issues on people’s minds is the state of the economy.
“Things are relatively calm all across Nigeria,” she said. “Life is hard as people try to deal with the high cost of living. A lot of markets are open now and people are going about their business, trying to make ends meet, hoping that whoever wins this election will turn around the economy.”
For Francis Ofungwa, a 23-year-old university student, the economy is “of paramount importance”.
“We are optimistic that when the election results [are announced], the candidates will work on the economy so it could grow and attract foreign investment so that there will be jobs for the youth,” he told Al Jazeera.
The three-way race has some analysts forecasting an unprecedented, second-round run-off between the two frontrunners if no candidate emerges as a clear winner.
To win, a candidate must get the most votes but also win 25 percent in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states.
If no candidate wins, a run-off will take place within 21 days between two frontrunners.
Voters also cast their ballot for Nigeria’s two houses of parliament, the National Assembly and Senate.