An official of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the chairman of the electoral body is likely to officially announce the outcome of the presidential election Monday.
Nick Dazan, INEC’s assistant director of public affairs, says preliminary reports of some observers who monitored Saturday’s presidential election suggest the vote was largely free and fair.
“So far, the results have been officially collected and announced and by later today, more states should be collected and announced at the presidential coalition center here in Abuja. Immediately [after] all the results have been collected, they will be tallied and then officially announced by the chairman of the commission, Professor Attahiru Jega,” Dazan said.
Early results in Nigeria's presidential election appear to be split between incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-producing Niger Delta, and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, from the Muslim north.
Election observers say President Jonathan was the clear front-runner among several challengers going into the race. He has promised to improve the country's economy, health and education.
Dazan says INEC was encouraged by the “overwhelming” participation of ordinary Nigerians in the electoral process to democratically choose their leader.
“There was a massive turnout this time around. A lot of young people and women came out to exercise their franchise. And Nigerians showed keen interest in who should govern their affairs in the next four years,” said Dazan.
“The election was largely peaceful and all the collection officers who are heads of tertiary institutions who have submitted their report said that the election was free and fair,” he added.
Dazan also expressed confidence that the presidential election will meet “international benchmarks” of credible elections.
To avoid a runoff, a candidate must get a majority of votes nationwide, and at least a quarter of the votes in at least two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states and the federal territory of Abuja, the capital.
Security was tight at polling stations across the West African nation. And despite two explosions in the northeastern city Maiduguri early Saturday, observers said voting mostly proceded calmly, with few instances of cheating.