Buhari, Atiku Know Fate Today

Over 72 Million Nigerians file out today to choose the next president and national assembly members

All are set for the presidential and national assembly elections today. Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, felt like a pregnant woman at her last antenatal care, at his last press conference Friday. He assured Nigerians and the international community that all logistics were in place for the election, and that voting will start by 8.00 on Saturday.

A total of 73 candidates are running for the presidential slot. There are 91 registered parties but only 73 are presenting presidential candidates. A total of 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives will be elected. The INEC chairman enthused confidence that the commission has got it right this time, as materials had been delivered to all the 774 local government areas in the country. What that means is that barring serious challenges materials will get to the polling units on time for the exercise to commence early enough.

Accreditation and voting will take place simultaneously. Yakubu confirmed that people can bring phones to the polling stations but no phones in the voting cubicles to avoid vote buying.

The National Situation Room opened at 6.00pm Friday while the collation centre for presidential election would open Sunday at 6.00pm.

On fears about the possible malfunctioning or cloning of the card readers, Yakubu assures voters that the card reader will authenticate they are the real owner of the card. In addition, the Commission went a step forward by using biometrics to activate voters. Thumb prints will be collected from those the card reader could not read their thumbprints. This will be used for legal reasons and the Commission will call them after election to find out why the card reader could not read their finger prints. A further security safeguard is that ballot papers will have manual signatures at the back as another level of authentication.

On underage voting which was rampant in the North in 2015, Yakubu said it is illegal and reaffirmed that the statutory age for voting was 18 years. He said people should report any incident of underage voting to the police for arrest and prosecution.

On Zamfara State, which the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja ordered INEC to include APC candidates late Friday, the Chairman confirmed that Commission had complied with the judgment and included APC candidates in the ballot papers for the state.

On security, he quietly disagreed with President Buhari’s kill ballot box snatchers order by reading out the civil procedure that would be taken. The Police would arrest suspects, carry out thorough investigation after the election and prosecute the suspects if found liable.

The Inspector General of Police reaffirmed that and assured the electorate, INEC staff, observers and journalists of their safety. He explained that there would be three unarmed policemen at each polling booth. There will be the tactical unit of armed security personnel, which will deal with trouble makers according to the law.

He urged Nigerians to “go out, vote peacefully and return to your house and wait for the results.”

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