SAT, FEBRUARY 23 2019-theG&BJournal-This year’s general election is billed as the most significant since 1999. The country is deciding the faith of President Muhammadu Buhari, the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting president through a ballot box.
Predictions are almost evenly divided on the outcome. Early turn-out for today’s poll reflects the determination of Nigerians to ensure entrenchment of a new political culture. To many, politics is still a shallow construct in the country. Majority queuing to cast their vote today say they are determined to change that and will always use their votes to send strong message to politicians that the days of entrenched authoritarianism, political exploitation and patronage are over.
Reports of voters turn-out across the country have surprised many international observers. One told the G&Journal she expected apathy, resignation and fatigue following the sudden cancellation of election February 16 2019, the earlier scheduled date for the exercise.
“What I see here today shows clearly that Nigerians are even more savvy voters than portrayed outside. It shows a mature politically aware society,’’ she said. ‘’This clearly provides a shot of confidence on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).’’
The near smooth deployment of electoral materials across the country by the Commission prior to the election today seem to have diminished the anger the populace poured on it after it surprisingly cancelled the election and pushed the date forward by one week.
“They have done pretty well in such a short time,’’ says one Iweze Mark in Lagos. What you see here today in our polling unit is that INEC have kept to their promise to Nigerians that they will get it right this time. What we hope for after this exercise is that in the end, our votes count’’ he said.
Overall, there is a consensus that INEC is getting better as a democratic institution.
84 million Nigerians registered to vote but it is expected that about 72.775 million will actually cast their ballots. The election would be by simultaneous accreditation and voting system, and only registered voters with Permanent Voter Cards would be allowed to vote.