Compared to the previous two democratic elections, Nigerians came out in massive numbers Saturday to press their thumb print on the paper ballot and vote for the next president of Africa’s most populated country.
Even though the number of votes reported for Saturday are small percentages of the total number of registered voters in some states, voters at the polling places are saying the turnout is much bigger than previous years. People I spoke with at the different polling places inside University of Ibadan said they didn’t even vote in the 2007 or 2003 election because of the rampant rigging.
The smooth, peaceful operation of the National Assembly vote last Saturday, April 9th was a message to people that this year, the election process would be different–every vote would actually count. Students and adults inside UI made sure their votes counted by watching the INEC officials count each and every vote in the ballot box out loud. Many recorded everything on their camera phones.
The mood at every polling place was almost unanimously in support for the incumbent presidential candidate, Goodluck Jonathan. The official numbers are not completely in yet, but we should know by Monday who Nigeria’s next president will be. Nigerian politics (of the past) is overwhelmingly party politics and not about the candidate, but on Saturday people voted for Jonathan and not his political party PDP. Everywhere I went I heard people talking about Goodluck. “I need Goodluck for my country.” “We all want Goodluck.” I only heard people saying PDP while the INEC officials counted the PDP votes at each polling place. (Remember, on the ballot you put a thumb print next to the party, candidates names are not present.)
Everyone in Oyo state, the state I live in, is highly anticipating the upcoming gubernatorial election on April 26. It will be a true testament to Nigeria’s departure from party politics when we see if the PDP candidate, incumbent Alao Akala retakes the throne.
I am currently uploading a video about Saturday’s presidential election but with the slow pace of the internet, I am not able to upload it today. Look forward to it ASAP.