After three failed attempts, Nigerians have elected General Muhammadu Buhari to shepherd the affairs of the country for the next four years thereby ending President Goodluck Jonathan’s ambition for a second term
| By Olu Ojewale | Apr. 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
GENERAL Muhammadu Buhari, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, is Nigeria’s president-elect. After three failed attempts, Buhari emerged as the winner of the presidential election held on Saturday, March 28. He defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the contest with other 12 candidates. According to Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, who announced the result of the election, Buhari got 15,424,921 of the votes cast, President Jonathan polled 12,853,162 of the votes cast.
Ahead of the final election report from Borno State, a Channels television report announced that President Jonathan called on Buhari to congratulate him on his election victory.
Be that as it may, the conduct of the election itself will be a talking point for a long time as so many irregularities were reported in so many areas, which are likely to bring about challenges in law courts. Prominent among irregularities recorded were on the issue of failed card readers; late arrival of electoral officers, snatching of a ballot box, lack of voting materials, among others. Some these led to elections going late into about 9:00 pm in some places, while there was suspension of entire process in some wards.
For instance, Realnews learnt that there were reports that election did not hold until Sunday, March 29, in at least five local government areas in Lagos State and seven local government areas in Sokoto State.
The situation in Rivers State was worse. Although elections were said to have held but disputes over non-production of the INEC result sheet prompted Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, to refuse to participate in the election process. Amaechi has thus, written to the INEC demanding for the cancellation of the elections in Port Harcourt where he was billed to vote. Supporters of the governor inadvertently went on a protesting match in Port Harcourt, capital city, and it took the intervention of combined security forces to restore sanity into the city, but not until some persons had been reported injured in the crisis.
In any case, Amaechi’s petition on the matter was acknowledged by Jega, who promised that investigation would be conducted on the matter. The question being asked by many observers was whether it was right for the governor to ask to see the original result sheet before casting his vote in the election. Onyekachi Ubani, lawyer and former chairman, Nigeria Bar Association, Ikeja branch, Lagos, said it was within his right to do so because the result sheets could be used to rig election. Besides, he said, being a stakeholder in the election he was only trying to be careful so that his party was not short-changed. But another school of thought said that he should have allowed the party agent to do his work.
Notwithstanding, the systemic failures at the elections did not escape Realnews reporters who monitored the conduct of the elections. The elections themselves started on good note of enthusiasm among voters who trouped out in some voting centres in Ogun and Lagos states which were covered by Realnews magazine. As early as 8:00am voters and security officials were already at the centres but officials of the INEC arrived very late in most places. At Arepo and the Magboro Primary School, INEC officials arrived late and it took quite some time to organise the rowdy scene with accreditation.
Prior to the start of the accreditation, Jesu Joba, presiding officer at the Magboro Primary School, which had six polling units announced that they did not have enough materials like ink and biro, generator and electric cable and requested members of the community to assist. The materials were provided before the commencement of accreditation of voters. Joba told Realnews that they came late because they were trying to sort out issues at the INEC office in Owode/Mowe, Ogun State.
Olu Akinjisola, member of Magboro Development Association, who was disappointed at the INEC preparations, said that the community had provided the ink for the officials to start work while another person volunteered to provide the generator.
However, some voters were appalled at the ill-preparation of the INEC with one of them saying that “what is happening is going to cause problem here. The INEC should have provided the materials.”
Party agents also had altercation with the INEC officials at Magboro when they were told that only one party agent should represent each party at all the polling units. But the officials rescinded the stance after a heated argument with the party agents, who insisted that one party agents should be allowed to observed at all the polling units.
Adeleke Lasisi, civil engineer with Arup Nigeria, who spoke to Realnews at Magboro Akeran Polling Booth expressed disappointed that at the logistics problems, saying that Attahiru Jega, chairman of the INEC chairman, would not come from Abuja to implement the electoral rules, adding that what they did would force people into desperation. He also said that the Magboro Development Association had to provide the canopies and chairs for people, particularly the elderly who trooped out to vote to seat down waiting for the arrival of the INEC officials
There were also logistic problems in some parts of Lagos, which was characterised the late arrival of officials and shortage of electoral material. Voters at Ogudu, Shomolu and other areas also complained that the INEC officials arrived late but that every other thing went well after that.
At Ajuwon area of Ifako Ijaiye Local Government Area of the state, accreditation of voters did not start until about 10:30am. Akin Orebiyi, a Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, when Realnews complained about the late arrival of election material, he said that the officials were delayed as a result of logistics challenges in distribution of election materials.
At Ward 06, Ifako Ijaiye, accreditation started by 11:15am and the card readers were a challenge to the INEC officials and voting started by 4:30pm in the area. At Yakoyo-Ogudu Berger, Ward 09, the voters were waiting for the arrival of the INEC officials as of 12:38pm when Realnews visited the polling unit. Sanni Mufutau, a PDP agent, said that they had been waiting for the officials since 8:00am and all the efforts to reach them on phone failed. “We have been here since morning and the INEC officials are yet to arrive our area. People are tired of waiting for them and INEC should not even think of disenfranchising us because we want to cast our votes,” Mufutau said.