News / Africa

Large Turnout for Nigeria's Presidential Poll

Muslim women line up  at a polling place in Daura, Nigeria, Saturday, April 16, 2011
Muslim women line up at a polling place in Daura, Nigeria, Saturday, April 16, 2011
Julia Ritchey

Millions of Nigerians are casting their ballots for a second time this month, this time in presidential elections that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is favored to win.

Long lines of voters are packing voting booths across Nigeria to cast their votes in Saturday's presidential polls, which pits incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan against a crowded field of a dozen other candidates.

A morning bombing in the northeastern city of Maiduguri cast a shadow over the start of the polling, but no fatalities or injuries were reported.  Similar bomb attacks took place on the eve of last week's legislative elections in an attempt to intimidate voters, but officials said otherwise the process has gone smoothly.

At stake is whether Africa's most populous nation, with 150 million people, can hold credible and open polls. Security has been tightened across the country, as Nigeria hopes to finally put a stop to the violence and fraud that have plagued its democratic elections since the end of military rule in 1999.

President Goodluck Jonathan, the former vice president, is running for a full term after coming to power less than a year ago upon the death of his predecessor. His closest competition is the 68-year-old former military ruler, Mohammadu Buhari, who is representing the Congress for Progressive Change party.

Buhari has been running on a strong anti-corruption platform and draws his support from the country's predominantly Muslim north. Jonathan, a Christian, draws support from the south-the elections reflecting the manifest ethnic and religious divisions in the country.

Africa Director of the Ansari Center, J. Peter Pham, is in Nasarawa state just outside of the capital Abuja as an international elections observer. He says the turnout is at least twice as large as in last week's parliamentary elections.

"In the urban centers, some of them [the crowds] are far larger than what were anticipated. I was at several polling places this morning, where there were literally six or 7,000 people supposed to vote in one place," said Pham.

Pham says the challenge will be whether elections officials can get everyone in to vote before the end of the day. Those registered to vote had to validate their registration between 8 and noon and collect a ticket before even being able to cast a ballot. The 120,000 polling stations were theoretically supposed to only handle 300 or so voters at a time. Yet despite the long lines, Pham says people still seem upbeat.

"There's an atmosphere and expectation of optimism that this is going to be much better than the 2007 election," he added.

The election is a crucial one for Jonathan and his party, the ruling People's Democratic Party, who hopes to retain the nation's highest office, as it has for more than a decade.

The PDP took a beating in parliamentary polls last week, maintaining its majority in the National Assembly, but losing several high-profile races in the southwest and north.

A PDP party official in the southern Niger Delta state expressed optimism that Jonathan would win.

"The area is calm, we have no problems in our unit at all. And I know we are winning the elections, so there's no problem around," said the official.

A Nigerian political analyst Dapo Oyewole says the PDP's losses have galvanized the party to campaign more aggressively in order to stay in power.  

"I think we're hearing the Nigerian voting public saying, 'We've had enough of this,' or  'We're not satisfied with this.' And this message I think will be the writing on the wall for the PDP to pull up their boot straps," said Oyewole.

To avoid a runoff, President Jonathan must win a simple majority as well as 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states.

The presidential election is the second in a three-tier general election being held in April. State polls will be held next Saturday.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid