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Could Nigeria have a new president in Atiku Abubakar?

ABUJA, Nigeria––Nigerians go to the poll to elect a new leader and government after delays and postponement of the presidential and general election last week.

Voting finally got underway in Nigeria amid multiple hiccups and ill-preparation of the country’s commission.  Eye-witnesses say while voting began in other parts of the country, there were visible signs that INEC, Nigeria’s electoral commission, was not fully prepared given reports of delayed starts to voting in various polling units across the country.

Moreover, INEC officials showed up late across several polling units, a sign of the lack of preparedness.  A source said in the upmarket neighborhood of Victoria Garden City in Lagos, voters had begun queuing at a polling unit even though INEC officials had not arrived.

In polling areas where the INEC officials arrived on time, they came clearly unprepared without table and chairs to place voting materials on.   Another eye-witness account said at a polling station in Maitaima, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, INEC officials improvised and managed to use benches.

In another polling station in Garki, Abuja, where the INEC officials were also without tables and chairs, voting did not begin until one of the voters rented and paid for tables and chairs for the officials.

In total, there are nearly 120,000 polling stations across Nigeria’s 774 local governments, therefore political observers believe the chances of similar hiccups are very high.

These setbacks compounded with past failures and the high economic situation, failure to tackle Boko Haram and the actions of Fulani herdsmen are turn off for most Nigerian voters against incumbent President Muhammadou Buhari and his administration.

It therefore appears that the country’s main opposition Atiku Abubakar is poised to become Nigeria’s next president if the polling process is fair, transparent and genuinely democratic.

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Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens is a researcher, media issues analyst and senior contributor with Globe Afrique.

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