Though the March 28 presidential and National assembly elections is gone, with winners celebrating and losers sulking, Nigerians indeed are to be commended for exhibiting a high level of commitment to a credible electoral process. In about 150,000 polling units across the country, Nigerians marched out peacefully to vote for their choice candidates in an
Though the March 28 presidential and National assembly elections is gone, with winners celebrating and losers sulking, Nigerians indeed are to be commended for exhibiting a high level of commitment to a credible electoral process.
In about 150,000 polling units across the country, Nigerians marched out peacefully to vote for their choice candidates in an election that may be safely classified as the most competitive in the history of Nigeria. From the north to the south, east to the west; it was with a common purpose to vote and make their votes count.
In the northern city of Kaduna, it was reported that people brought mats to polling units to lie down and wait as voting continued into the night. “As long as I can wait, even in the night, I’m willing to cast my vote and I’m sure everybody on the queue is willing to cast his vote, no matter the time,” Abba Galadima, a civil servant was reported to have said.
‘Nigeria decides’, one of the themes used in reporting the elections couldn’t have been more apt for indeed, Nigerians actually decided. Gone were the common practices of snatching of ballot boxes, stuffing of ballot boxes and intimidation of voters. Though there were a few skirmish and hiccups as a result of functionality of the card readers, evident amongst the electorates was a determination to follow through the process as the elections witnessed abled, disabled, old and ailing people also exercising their franchise.
In Lagos, the election was generally peaceful and despite the rainfall and technical hitches accompanying the use of the card reader, the electorates were not deterred. Social media, especially Twitter was alive and buzzing with tweets giving situation reports. Everybody seemed to have a stake and all what the electorates wanted was a credible elections where their votes would count. In some parts, the elections witnessed sorts of communal ownership with some communities providing shelters for voters and many being their brothers’ keepers. It was not a case of who should win, it was a case of let us vote and let the result be a true representation of our choice.
Prior to the elections, there had been rising anxiety, and tension of possible break out of violence, making everybody wary that the eruption of violence was inimical to the electoral process. Related to this, Mr. Ayobami Ojebode, the Head of Department of Communication and Language Arts in the University of Ibadan surmises:“In most places, voting was peaceful and the initial hitches of card reader malfunctioning were soon overcome”. He later went on to say that although people had expected violence to erupt on election day, this was not so. “The Armageddon that we all feared about the 2015 elections appears not to be happening”, he concluded.
As technical difficulties arose from the use of card reader, Nigerians waited peacefully for it to be resolved while some polling centres resolved to the use of manual accreditation. Meanwhile, some polling booths which couldn’t solve the technical glitches on time had to postpone the elections till the following day. There were no serious protest about this as the people came the next day. INEC said in a statement released on its website “Whereas the process has gone on well in several places, in some others it has encountered some challenges, especially with the use of the card readers”, “Booths experienced technical glitches, leading to voting being extended to Sunday at about 300 polling units out of about 150,000″, the statement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) read.
After voting, Nigerians stayed at the poling unit to ensure that the results of the elections were counted in their presence. Now, after coming out to exercise their franchise, Nigerians can sit back with a rest of mind that they have done their part.
What one expects however is that the results would be widely accepted and that reactions or celebrations by supporters of losers or winners will not truncate the peace so far exhibited. That, would indeed be the crowning of what Nigerians decided.