A handful of polling stations remained open to allow more Nigerians to vote on Sunday in what is expected to be a tight presidential race between President Muhammadu Buhari and businessman Atiku Abubakar in Africa’s top oil producer.
Voters had queued late into the night on Saturday in a few areas of Africa’s most populous nation where polling stations had opened late or ballot machines malfunctioned. A handful of these opened again on Sunday to make up for the delays.
Nearly 73 million eligible voters cast their ballots from a pool of more than 70 presidential candidates in an election which was postponed the previous Saturday, just hours before it was due to begin, due to logistics.
It was not clear when the outcome of the results would be announced.
“Everything is going on well with the count,” said Festus Okoye, an Independent National Electoral Commission official.
INEC warns against unofficial results
INEC chairperson Mahmood Yakubu told journalists the commission was ‘generally satisfied’ with the vote, despite delays that caused it to be extended to Saturday night and in some cases Sunday.
Yakubu also cautioned against the premature declaration of results by candidates, political parties and their associates.
“Only the Independent National Electoral Commission can tally figures, announce results and declare winners,’‘ Yakubu said.
Both Buhari and Atiku’s camps have claimed ‘resounding victories’, citing results from different polling units across the country.
Enough is enough?
Other than the official presidential results from INEC, senatorial results for Kwara Central, where current Senate president Bukola Saraki was challenged by Ibrahim Oloriegbe of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is likely to be the most anticipated.
Several people have reported on social media that Saraki, who occupies the third most powerful political office in Nigeria, lost the race to retain his seat, thanks to what is being called the ‘Otoge’ movement (Enough is Enough)
Saraki, who defected from the APC to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), played a critical role in Atiku’s campaign.
If Saraki’s reported loss is confirmed by INEC, it would be a major political upset for the senate president, who is also a former governor of Kwara State and whose father Olusola Saraki was a senator in Kwara from 1979 to 1983.
#BuhariIsWinning vs #AtikuIsWinning
On social media, supporters of the two main candidates are claiming victory, using results from their own polling units, posted under the hashtags #BuhariIsWinning and #AtikuIsWinning.
- Presidential elections are held on the 3rd Saturday in February of any general election year.
- Election of governors and members of the National Assembly are held two weeks thereafter.
- In case of the need for a second round in the presidential election, it shall be held within 21 days following the announcement of first round results.
- To contest the election outcome, a petition must be filed within 21 days after the official results were declared.
- Election tribunals including the Court of Appeal for presidential and governorship elections, shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition.
- The courts may however adopt the practice of delivering its decision first, and defering the reasons for the verdict to a latter date.
At a glance
- 72 presidential candidates
- 360 members to be elected to House of Representatives
- 109 Senate members
- Population: 200,962,417 (2019 est.)
- Registered Voters: 84,004,084
What Buhari said after voting
“It is my constituency here, I’m pleased people are already lined up so at the same time the vote can continue, thank you very much.
(REPORTER ASKING: How do you feel yourself, sir?”) Well so far, so good. Nigerians understand that they are believing themselves.
(REPORTER ASKING: “Are you hopeful?”) Very hopeful indeed. (REPORTER ASKING: “If you lose will you accept defeat and congratulate the winner?) I will congratulate myself, I’m going to be the winner. Thank you very much.”
Atiku expects “successful transition”
Over in the northeast, in Yola, capital of Adamawa State, his main contender and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar said he was looking forward to a successful transition after casting his ballot.
Atiku a former ally of Buhari has called on voters to repeat the 2015 feat where an incumbent was voted out. The two opponents were in the the same camp when the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, defeated the Goodluck Jonathan led government.
Atiku abandoned the APC and rejoined the now main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, under which he had served as vice-president for two terms, i.e. 1999 – 2007.
Suspected Islamists attack Nigerian town hours before poll, residents say
Suspected Islamist militants on Saturday attacked a northeastern Nigerian town, forcing people to flee hours before presidential election polls were due to open, residents said.
“We have fled, along with our wives and children and hundreds of others,” Ibrahim Gobi, who lives in the town of Geidam in Yobe state, said by telephone.
“We are right now running and hiding in the bushes.” Around the same time a Reuters witness said blasts were heard in Maiduguri, the capital of the neighbouring state of Borno.
Northeast Nigeria has been hit by the decade-long Boko Haram insurgency with attacks in recent months carried out by offshoot Islamic State in West Africa Province.