Nigeria election: A day after polls closed, voting was still taking place
How do you organize elections for more than 93 million voters? With a lot of effort, headaches, delays and technical defects, it turns out.
More than 24 hours after the polls closed, some Nigerians were still voting in Africa’s largest democratic exercise.
The numbers are astounding; Nigeria has 176,606 polling stations and most of them passed without incident.
However, it was overshadowed by widespread reports of delays, technical problems and attacks and voter intimidation at some polling stations.
A CNN team in Lagos saw voters still trying to find a way to cast their ballots on Sunday at a school in Lagos where two polling stations were unable to vote in Saturday’s election.
In the capital Abuja, voting continued late Saturday, when voters used car headlights to help see themselves.
When a CNN team visited some polling stations, dozens of voters were still waiting to cast their ballots. In parts of Lagos, voting was held until midnight.
The election is one of the most hotly contested contests since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999, and the two-party system that has dominated Nigerian politics ever since faces an unprecedented threat.
Leading the way are Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling APC party, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the lesser-known Labor Party.
Obi, 61, has gained popularity and is seen as the third force candidate who could emerge as leader.
Many of his supporters, mostly new voters, who registered to vote in large numbers, complained of attempts to suppress their vote.
Several people were attacked at a polling station in Lekki, Lagos.
Dr. Chidi Nwagwu told CNN: “I arrived around 10am. The voting material was late and we were getting ready to vote. Some thugs arrived and started beating people with chairs. I was hit several times with a chair. There was a doctor who helped us. Many women were attacked, including a pregnant woman. She was knocked to the ground and they smashed her phone.”
Alicia Gberikon said: “There was harassment and if you had a phone it was a crime. People were beaten and their phones were smashed. It was very scary.”
Yiaga Africa, a non-profit civic group that has deployed 3,836 observers across the country, said it was disappointed with the election. “To be honest, there is a feeling of disappointment about the way this process has gone. It is clear that we have not always overcome and resolved our logistical challenges with elections,” Samson Itodo, executive director of Yiaga, told CNN.
This would be the year the Electoral Commission would provide real-time results through its new portal, iReV.
Yiaga said it was concerned that as of 10 p.m. local time on Saturday, when results were out from thousands of polling stations, they had not been uploaded to the Election Commission’s voting portal.
“It raises a lot of questions about the whole process because it deviates from the guidelines for the elections. But it also raises doubts about the integrity of this whole process,” Itodo said.
“To make matters worse, the committee is not speaking or has not spoken to Nigerians.”
The President of the Election Commission (INEC), Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, briefly addressed the country at a media briefing on Sunday, where he explained the sorting process but did not address the issues surrounding the transfer of results.
Yakubu reported that there was violence all over the country and that election machines known as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) were lost in some of those disruptions.