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In line under the sun, Nigerians wait to finish voting

2015-03-29 20:01
Supporters ride in a campaign bus of leading opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate Mohammadu Buhari and his running mate Yemi Osinbajo as they drive past a campaign poster of Nigerian President and candidate to his re-elect ~ PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
Lagos - Life returned to normal in Nigeria's financial hub of Lagos on Sunday after the presidential election. Worshippers walked to church, shops and eateries reopened and traffic was on the streets.

But for some like 71-year-old Amidu Adegoke and more than 100 others outside a polling station in Oworonshoki area of the city, voting was not over yet.

Also read: APC warns against tampering with election results

The retired carpenter's polling station was one of about 300 across the country affected on Saturday by either a lack of election materials or staff or a failure of voter identification technology.

"My 32-year-old graduate son has been jobless for the past seven years and I am getting old," he told AFP as he waited patiently in the scorching sun for the accreditaton process to start.

"I will vote for a man who I know can guarantee my family a good future. Life is tough now," he said, wiping sweat from his brow.

The close-run campaign between President Goodluck Jonathan and the main opposition candidate, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, has energised voters in Nigeria.

Instead of a foregone conclusion for the incumbent, Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) are seen as close to inflicting defeat on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the first time.

The prospect of the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history has seen large crowds at polling stations, with reports of patients being carried out of hospital to vote.

'I must vote'

The campaign, which has focused on the Boko Haram menace, rampant corruption and the faltering economy, has also shaken up traditional allegiances.

Voters in the mainly Christian south now are no longer guaranteed to back a Christian candidate or Muslims in the north a Muslim.

Afusatu Ayodele, a 37-year-old trader, said she had never voted in her life because she never believed her vote would count or change anything.

"But this time round, I must vote. I want real change in this country," she said, sipping a cold drink in the sunshine.

"I will vote Buhari for presidency and Jimi Agbaje for Lagos state governorship," she said, splitting her vote between the APC for the country and the PDP at the local level.

Wheelchair user Emily Adeyemi, 69, was accredited before others at her polling station.

"I was disappointed when I could not vote yesterday. But I am happy that I have been accredited to vote today," she said in Yoruba, which is widely spoken in the southwest.

"I will be happy to my grave for this opportunity to bring about a change in Nigeria through my vote."

A few metres (yards) away from a polling centre, six members of a street gang known locally as "Area Boys" puffed on joints of marijuana and swigged from bottles of beer.

"We could not collect our PVCs (permanent voters card). We're just trying to suppress our disappointment with these weeds," said one of them, his eyes bloodshot.

'Working fine'

The threat of violence is never far from Nigerian elections and there have been calls for calm after some 1,000 people were killed in 2011 after the results came through.

Area Boys, hired by local politicians for booze and cash, have often been blamed.

There have been sporadic incidents countrywide and suspected Boko Haram attacks in the northeast but the vote involving some 68.8 million voters in a country of 173 million has been largely peaceful.

"It's very orderly. Voters are conducting themselves properly. No problem," police inspector Yemi Adegboyega said at one Lagos polling station.

An electoral officer on the Lagos Mainland part of the city also said the process was now going to plan.

"We had challenges on Saturday especially with the card reader but it is working fine now," she said.

Those that voted whether on Saturday as planned or Sunday by default saw it as an achievement.

"I have voted and I am very happy about it," said John Uche, who lives in Oworonshoki. "There was no problem at all. I was the first person at the polling centre today."

Read more on: pdp  |  goodluck jonathan  |  lagos  |  politics

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