By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Millions of Nigerians go to the polls today to elect a president and a new National Assembly in an election that is expected to change the curve of low voter turnouts.
More than 84 million Nigerians have been registered to vote for today’s election. Voting is expected to be done in 176,966 voting points spread across the country.
Today’s election is expected to fill the office of president and vice-president, 109 Senate seats and 360 federal constituencies in the House of Representatives.
Ahead of today, enthusiasm has been high with expectations that the gradual descent in voter turnout which reached a record low in 2015 at 43% would have bottomed out.
73 political parties registered to contest the presidential election but as at press time a handful of candidates apparently not able to get traction dropped out of the contest, leaving President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as the major candidates.
Buhari is voting in Katsina where he held his last rally on Thursday. He is expected to vote in Daura. Atiku who held his last homecoming rally in Yola, on Thursday is expected to vote in Jada, his hometown in Adamawa State.
The two major parties, PDP and APC are contesting virtually all the constituencies on offer today. The APC which was ruled out of the National Assembly contests in Zamfara and Rivers States on account of irregularities or late conduct of party primaries was as at press time yesterday still expressing confidence that it would be on the ballot in the two states.
Not surprisingly, today’s election has drawn the attention of the international community given the position and prospects of Nigeria in the global arena. International observers are also complementing thousands of domestic observers spread across the country.
For the first time in a national election, Parallel Voting Tabulation, PVT is being staged across the country by independent observers. One of such, YAIGA Africa at a press briefing ahead of today’s polls said it would release details of turnout, vote counts and approximated results at a press conference tomorrow.
“Based on reports from its observers in 1,515 sampled polling units YIAGA AFRICA will also provide an independent projection of voter turnout and will be able to project the vote shares that each party should receive within a narrow range. If the official results fall within YIAGA AFRICA’s estimated ranges, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence in the ballots cast at the polling units,” it said even as the body affirmed that only INEC has the statutory responsibility of announcing the result of election.