By Chioma Gabriel Deputy Editor
…As Nigerians pick president today
Nigeria’s seventh presidential election is taking place nationwide today in what is generally seen as a straight fight between President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and three other major contenders: General Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (ACN), and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP).
Twenty-one candidates submitted nomination forms for the election but seven of them have withdrawn from the race.
The election is the second in the 2011 series. The first round – for National Assembly – took place last Saturday with the ruling PDP sweeping the polls.
The last round is scheduled for next Saturday during which state governors and state legislators will be elected. Election into the National Assembly which was rescheduled in some states is also coming up next week.
Colonel Abubakar Umar, public commentator and former military Governor of Kaduna State urges Nigerians to reflect deeply before casting their votes today.
“Nigerians should reflect deeply and cast their votes for the person that would move this country forward and the party that would give greater dividends of democracy irrespective of who the candidate is or where he is from. We should do away with tribal and religious politics and vote for the man that would deliver the dividends of democracy. This is the time for us to discontinue story telling and move Nigeria forward”, he said.
Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, former Senate President, believes this is the best opportunity for Nigerians to advance the nation.
“ I believe today’s election presents the best opportunity for Nigerians to advance the nation and that opportunity lies in our votes. So we must cash in on it and vote right. We have a conducive environment for a free, fair and credible election and we must utilize it well and God will help us as we vote peacefully”.
Mrs Sarah Jubril, the only female presidential aspirant on the PDP platform urges voters to consider party ideologies.
“ My advice is that voters consider the ideology of political parties to know which is better than that of others. If you ask me, I will still say that PDP is focused towards the people in terms of its ideology. PDP may not be perfect but it is better, focused and means well. Jonathan still appeals to me the best candidate amongst the lot. His language is better. He talks of stability and repositioning of the party.
He has vision on how to make things better. But others talk of vengeance, revenge; that is not okay. I agree that PDP can make things better and Jonathan talks like a leader. He is not out to pull down anybody. His language is endearing.”
For Ambassador Maitama Sule, Nigerians should turn-out peacefully today to perform their civic responsibility.
“Let Nigerians turn out peacefully to perform their civic responsibility. Nigerians, INEC and politicians should be committed to a peaceful presidential election because it is peaceful elections that would produce credible leaders.
It is credible leaders that would move the country forward and Nigerians should not miss this opportunity to get things right and put Nigeria where it ought to be in the comity of nations. Vote right. Conduct yourselves peacefully! That is my advice”, concludes Maitama Sule.
Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, First Republic civil servant and politician, commends INEC for a job done so far and appeals for better conduct of elections today.
“I commend Nigeria and INEC for peaceful and credible elections and appeal to them their efforts to ensure that today’s election is conducted better. I want to alert INEC and Nigerians that what happened last Saturday would be taken as a parameter to test their strength. Nigerians have known the areas of strengths and weaknesses of INEC and could capitalise on these to manipulate things today. So, INEC should not take things for granted and ensure today’s election is free, fair and credible”.
Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim, member of Board of Trustees of PDP advises INEC and Nigerians to beware of those distributing money around to voters even as he urges the voters to collect their money and still vote in credible leaders.
“Nigerians should get things right. INEC should keep eyes on people who distribute money. Nigerians should know it is their money being distributed. So, if they give them money, they should accept because it’s their money anyway, but let them vote the right person, a leader who will bring them change.
Today’s election is for the youths and youths should ensure they vote right because it’s their future that is at stake and so, they should ensure they vote peacefully for the change agent that would turn around things for them.”
The Nigerian Peoples Congress in a statement by its National Chairman, Prince Ngozi Emioma urges eligible voters to come out en masse to elect their president.
“The turnout in last Saturday National Assembly elections was impressive. The polls were equally fair despite the violence that marred the election in some areas. It is obvious that INEC has learnt from its mistakes. We hope that the Commission will improve in it performance in the presidential election today.
A number of the votes were voided due to wrong thumb prints. It is crucial that Electoral Officers should enlighten voters on queue on the appropriate way to vote to avoid cancellation of their ballots. It was part of the mistake INEC made by not producing samples of the ballot papers which would have assisted in voter education.
“INEC Chairman Prof Attahiru Jega has another opportunity to justify the overwhelming confidence of Nigerians in his leadership. Nigerians expect an election that will meet international standard. We enjoin all lovers of democracy to support the Commission in conducting free, fair, credible and peaceful presidential elections.”