News Frontliner Web Desk, 23 February 2019: African nation Nigeria on Saturday witnessed a presidential election that has been marred by heavy firing in the north-east, killings in the south, technology failures and vote buying across the country.
Voters at some places arrived at polling stations at 3 am to ensure their ballot gets counted in an election dominated by the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, and a former vice-president Atiku Abubakar.
Nigeria’s electoral commission had earlier postponed the vote by a week just five hours before polls were due to open last weekend, raising questions about why it had not anticipated the logistical challenges it cited earlier.
Nigerian press reported that four people were shot dead on Saturday, in southern Rivers state. Hundreds of people fled Geidam in north-eastern Yobe state after a reported attack by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Yobe is one of three Nigerian states that has been destabilised over the past decade by the extremist group Boko Haram and ISWAP, a splinter group.
People in Maiduguri, the capital of north-eastern Borno state, woke to the sound of heavy firing. The administration said that the firing was not targeted for the public but was for security purpose.
“There has been no attack on any part of Maiduguri and hence no threat to public peace and order,” a police spokesman said. Many Maiduguri residents questioned as to why the security forces choose to hold an impromptu, and fear-inducing, drill only a few hours before polls opened.
Report says that thousands of people who have fled Boko Haram over the past few years and who are living in relief camps in Maiduguri, turned out in large numbers to vote despite the gunfire.
In Nigeria’s southern megacity of Lagos, young people woke early and braved drizzle to cast their vote.
Buhari won the last election convincingly, promising to deal with escalating insecurity and official corruption, but he hardly could live up to the expectation with which he was voted in power. Hhas not made as much progress as his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), claims on these fronts. Many hope his chief rival Atiku, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will at least shore up a struggling economy and create jobs. The result is expected to be close.