In Nigeria, the general elections have eventually taken off. This is after the two times postponement it suffered, first being on the 2nd April and the second being on the 4th April. And though the enthusiasm of electorates as shown last week was absent on this Saturday 9th April 2011, the about 73.5 million registered Nigerians are indeed willing to vote candidates of their choice for the national assembly. But the day had been heralded with a bump blast at the INEC office in Suleja, 20 km (12 miles) from the nation’s capital Abuja. And the police had confirmed about 12 persons killed and 27 injured.
In all the elections that will be organised, what will be seen is more of a battle for President Goodluck Jonathan of the People Democratic Party. He is battling to maintain a leading majority of the all votes that will be cast. And as a first step, he participated in the election as he cast his vote for the candidates of his choice at Etueke, his country home at 1.45A.M, moment after he was accredited.
This first phase of the election is for the national Assembly where about 109 senators and360 House of Representatives would be elected. And 54 parties are contesting different positions. Regrettably, the election will not be holding in 15 senatorial district and 48 Federal constituencies across the country. And the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega had explained why the election will not hold in those area listing logistic problem and duplication of electoral materials in the areas as the major challenges. And only this morning, though the Media Director, Mr. Kayode Idowu, to the INEC Chairman Professor Jega would not confirm it, it said that all political parties in Ekiti State have decided that the election in that state be shifted to a later date.
On all the roads, towns and cities, there is a full complement of the security personnel. They are out there to maintain a tight security controls. They also mounted road blocks. And the nations’ borders were officially closed effective Friday noon with flights grounded. All these are done to check movement in those places. And in Rivers State, helicopters hovered around to cheek security breaches. The governor of that state, Chibuike Amaechi also voted in his home town, Ubima at 2.20 P.M.
And the polling procedure began at about 0800 local time with voter’s accreditation to avoid irregularities when the real voting commences at 1200. The general apathy on the part of the electorates was a shadow cast on their minds occasioned by the botched last Saturday election. There was high demonstration of enthusiasm by Nigerians. This slow start was noticeable in parts of Abia , Imo, Rivers and Bayelsa and Anambra states. Largely, accreditation started late in most of these centres.
In fact the number of electorates accredited is lower than the number of willing and registered ones. In Ebuku of Abia North some youths tried to make trouble with electoral officers as was experienced in the parts of Sagana street axis in Port Harcourt, ward 6 in Okrika. This challenge was also seen in parts of Eleme where most electorates hardly knew how and where to thumb print. In Twon Brass, there was fighting with one died, though unconfirmed. In the north-eastern state of Borno, gunmen shot dead four people at a police station where election officials were preparing voting materials.
There were other category of electorates who work for Five star Hotel like Novotel and Company like Intel Services were asked to go to work and denied from voting. This is against the willingness of these people. And reacting to the situation, the Trade Union Congress Chairman in Rivers State, Mr. Chika Onuebu said the act of those companies was against labour law and the constitution. He insisted that they may be forced to make a written protest and seek ways to redress the situation.