From Abubakar Akote (Minna), Bassey Willie (Yenagoa) & Abbas Jimoh (Abuja)
The four leading presidential candidates, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Musa Kwankwaso, have expressed confidence in their chances of winning the election.
Tinubu, who spoke after voting at Ward C, PU 085 Alausa, Ikeja, said Nigeria was not the only country facing economic challenges, adding, “We just have to recalibrate the system and set Nigeria on the path of recovery.”
Atiku also spoke after voting in his Ajiya 02, in Gwadabawa ward, Yola North Local Government of Adamawa and expressed confidence that he would win the election.
Also, Obi, while voting in his Amatutu ward in Agulu, Anambra State, expressed satisfaction with the voting process, while noting that the absence of photographs of the candidates on ballot papers was making it difficult for voters to identify them.
He, however, said that God who made him governor of Anambra State could also make him the president of Nigeria.
On his part, Kwankwaso, who voted in his Kwankwaso town of Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State, expressed concern over the delay in the supply of election materials.
Addressing reporters after voting, Kwankwaso said accreditation and voting didn’t start in the polling unit till 11am as against 08:30am. He called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide more time for his supporters to vote.
A former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and his civilian counterpart, Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday also reacted to the presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria.
Abdulsalami, who voted in his polling unit at Uphill in Minna, Niger State around 1.10pm, urged the candidates and their supporters to accept the outcome of the polls as the way to avoid post-election violence, while praying for total peace in the country.
“Thank God I have performed my civic duty; and may we have peace. The process is very comfortable and easy. Electorates should vote according to their conscience. Nobody should sell his or her vote. And when the results are declared, we should maintain peace,” he said.
Former President Jonathan condemned vote-buying and electoral violence, while reiterating that “no political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.”
“Whatever office you occupy, you will leave it someday, so the position you occupy today should not diminish us as a human race but rather improve us if you mean well for us,” he said.
Logistics, insecurity mar elections – Commonwealth, Situation Room
The Commonwealth election observers and the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room have called for action on the late arrival of election officials and materials for yesterday’s presidential and National Assembly elections across the country.
They made the call in Abuja while presenting the interim report on the start of the 2023 general elections.
The head of the Commonwealth Observer Mission to Nigeria and former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, who was a guest at the briefing, said his committee observed the late arrival of officials and materials to polling units in many parts of the country.
“The point I am making is that everybody arrived late. And before they could start with voting, it took some time.
“Also, at a second polling unit observed, INEC officials complained of inks drying as early as elections began. Imagine what can happen later. Our committee, however, believes that the electoral commission is able to address the problem,” Mbeki said.
In an interim statement jointly signed by co-conveners, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu, it was noted that despite the challenges observed, the elections were not postponed as was the case in recent general elections.
“The Situation Room is pleased that sensitive election materials reached most local government areas across the country.
“It is hopeful that INEC and other election stakeholders would resolve existing and emerging challenges relating to deployment of electoral officials and materials, prompt commencement of polls, accreditation and voting.
“The Situation Room calls on voters to eschew violence and be law abiding as they perform their civic duty,” they stated.
They lamented late deployment of election materials across the country, with less than 30 per cent of polling units starting on time.
They stated, “States where polls opened around 8.30am include Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe and Jigawa. However, in Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Rivers, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), there were significant delays in commencement of polls. Many polling units were yet to open at 11.30am.
“In most states, deployment of election officials and materials to registration centres did not commence as scheduled, making it extremely difficult for the exercise to commence on time.
“In some states, many ad hoc staff could not find their names on the staff list even after participating in the training exercise, causing further delays.
“There were reports of deployment of election materials to wrong polling units in parts of North West and North East.”
On election violence, the coalition expressed concern on the tendency to use violence to intimidate opposition and suppress voters, as was observed in Kogi and Rivers states.
“Specifically, in Anyigba ward of Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, thugs were reportedly going round destroying election materials and dispersing voters. The Situation Room calls on security agencies to intervene and arrest the escalating violence,” they added.
The coalition also said it received reports of attempts by political actors to engage in vote-buying.
They, however, commended security agencies for apprehending suspected perpetrators of vote-buying.
“The Situation Room calls for a thorough investigation of the cases, while advocating more vigilance against those who may still be harbouring such intentions,” they stated.