By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
If circumstances had not prevailed to cause the postponement of the presidential election from last week to today, either Muhammadu Buhari or Atiku Abubakar would have been pumping hands in celebration of victory.
However, by hook or crook, the election was postponed causing the camps of the two leading presidential candidates to accuse one another of masterminding the factors that led to the shift.
With the media war over blame for the postponement unresolved, there is, however, little doubt that the delay may not have tilted support for any of the two major candidates.
So as they go into the election today, Buhari and Atiku would be looking towards many Nigerians who have not shifted in their alignments towards any of the major candidates.
With the campaigns and opportunity to sell themselves practically over, the two major candidates who between them share the support of the majority of Nigerians will be looking beyond the campaign to the basic issues of how they can best protect their votes in today’s election.
Both candidates and their agents would be looking forward to check attempts at vote buying. While vote buying , like most electoral crimes, is a common practice among the country’s political parties, each party would want to expose the other that may be caught involved in the practice. The PDP candidate would be especially hard pressed on this given the fact that the APC has to its advantage the control of the security services.
The opposition would, however, want to maximise its relations with the international observers and to draw their attention to whatever they may see as infractions that may be committed against it by the ruling party.
It is no surprise that on election eve that the PDP raised the alarm after Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, PDP, Kwara South was allegedly picked up by security agents for yet undisclosed reasons.
A statement issued by the Kwara South Youth chapter of the PDP not surprisingly drew the attention of the international community to the issue.
“We, the youths of Kwara South Constituency, at this moment call on the international community, specifically, observers who have come to witness the February 23rd election, to take note of the partisan and irresponsible antics of the Nigerian Police Force,” the youths said in a statement signed by Hon. Muideen Abdulrahman made available to Saturday Vanguard.
The collation of the results is expected to be about the most crucial activity from this afternoon. Party agents who are not especially mobilized by their parties may be tempted to sell out, and it is expected that the major parties would have sufficiently armed themselves with resources to immune their agents from the temptations of rival political parties.
The parties would be especially pressed to put their agents on the toe in the riverine areas and also in Kano where the governor of the state had promised to deliver 5 million votes for a candidate. Kano has a total of 4.6 million collected Permanent Voter Cards, PVC
The PDP has brought into the contest the Parallel Voter Tabulation, PVT, a scheme to reproduce results obtained at every level of the contest across all polling centres in the country. By projecting the PVT, it is the expectation of the opposition party that the results obtained at the grassroots would not be tampered with by the time they get to the national level for final computation.
Besides the PDP, some civil society organisations are also bringing the PVT into play as a way of strengthening the transparency of the election managers.
The candidates and their agents will also depend on strong personalities contesting the National Assembly elections outside their home base especially in places outside their home locations.
Buhari will especially look forward to people like Senator Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom Northwest, Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central), Orji Uzor Kalu, Abia North among others to generate enthusiasm for him in areas he is not very popular.
As the two major candidates go to vote today, they would know that victory would not come from just their persuasion of voters, but also more by protecting the votes that may have been cast for them. Protection of votes and ability to check rigging will count in determining who wins today, not only a candidate’s persuasion for votes.