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article imageOp-Ed: Nigeria — the first polls have finished

By Donna Murphy     Apr 14, 2011 in Politics
Right I thought, the first polls have closed. I just had to start looking around to see what the long wait had produced.
As the results were still being counted, I would have to be content with exit poll results and general opinions. (April, 10, 2011) In Lagos, the ACN had swept the National Assembly elections, winning all the contests in Senatorial Districts and Federal Legislative constituencies in the state. The count was still being collated but it seemed that the PDP (the ruling party at the moment) had been well and truly beaten.
On I went, (Reuters) Nigeria's ruling party looked set to see the strong grip it has had on Parliament weakened, as votes emerged on Sunday (April, 11) from an election that observers said was the fairest for decades in Africa's most populous nation. Long lines of voters, in determined and even hopeful frame of mind. The mood at the polling stations were jubilant. Enduring a sun scorched day, they waited, as it was a long process. For the most part, things remained calm and orderly. Danjuma Baisa, 32, a secondary school teacher said, "I came here to get in line right after morning prayers." Expressing his confidence that his vote would count this time he said, "It's a better process this time."
I kept on delving, well, I thought to myself, it is not unusual for a governing party to take a bit of a beating in an election. We have all seen it before, so when I went on and saw the next reports of results PDP won 2 Senatorial seats. PDP won seven out of eight federal seats, PDP win four out of eight seats. I don't need to go on, I thought, what is going on? (Nigeria is obviously much bigger than I thought) Then I read of a flurry of seats won by the ANPP and then there were a smattering of results for the main opposition party, ACN. Obviously, there are still many states to declare and even some to vote but for the most part, results are coming in and people seem fairly satisfied with the whole system.
The INEC Commissioner in charge of Kogi Plateau and Nasaraw state, Abduikadir Oniyang, has expressed delight over the massive turnout of voters. He observed that women constituted two thirds of voters and commended their perseverance and commitment. Even the international observers said the voting appeared to be generally free and fair, their only comment was that there was some disorganisation related to the high turnout.
Then as the next reports started to come in, the recriminations began. In one area, a source told Sahara reporters "there's an obvious delay of results from Anaocha." This, he blamed on rigging the votes, it appeared (area for incumbent, Govenor Petobi and Dr Akunyilli both PDP), that there was an announcement of inflated numbers of votes for the Dr, although once other Local Assembly boxes had come in, she no longer had the majority of votes after this. Opposition sources in Anambra also indicated that INEC officials moved polling stations without prior notice and also supplied ballot sheets to areas where the APGA candidate were deemed popular. There were also an unusually high incidents of voters arriving as designated polling booths to find their names were missing from the registers. This was much more the sort of thing I was expecting, although it seems to perplex me more than the voters, I am not yet Nigerian enough obviously!
The run off for the position of President is on Saturday, (I can't wait!) Goodluck Jonathan(PDP), the incumbent, has been running a flashy campaign, although no one is sure quite where the money has come from. His main challenger is Mr Rhibadu(ACN), who has apparently run such a quiet campaign, some people are not even aware of it at all. The third possible candidate with a chance is Mr Buhari(CPC) who apparently is at least making a stab at it. Most sources think that there will be no overriding winner in the first poll, and there will need to be a run off.
I have discovered a couple of things whilst I have been looking into these elections. Nigeria is a very large country, the people of Nigeria were not expecting great things from this election but on the whole have been pleasantly surprised. I await Saturday, the election of the big one, the President, with the hope that is proves to be as entertaining and without any major incidents. I am certainly finding it more entertaining than the last few UK elections, who knows, maybe they could teach the UK a lesson or two! Bring it on!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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