Posted on :
16 Apr, 2011
16 Apr, 2011
April 17 (Bloomberg) — Nigerians are waiting for results of a presidential election that incumbent Goodluck Jonathan is favored to win, amid reports by observers of irregularities.
There were more than 50 incidents found at the nation’s 120,000 polling stations, including ballot-box snatching, under- age voting and voter intimidation, according to a statement from the Abuja-based Nigerian Election Situation Room, a coalition of civil society observer groups.
Latest Update: Nigeria Presidential Election Result 2011
Results are expected within 48 hours of when the polls closed at 6 p.m. local time yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission said in an e-mailed statement. Officials began counting ballots and collating results immediately, a process that “should not be carried out under a cloud of secrecy if the election is to be seen to be free, fair, and credible,” the observers’ group said.
Nigerian voters chose whether to give power to Jonathan, a 53-year-old Christian from the oil-rich southern Niger River delta region, where an armed insurgency cut the nation’s crude output by 28 percent from 2006 to 2009. His two main challengers, both Muslim northerners, are former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, 68, and Nuhu Ribadu, the 50-year-old ex-head of the anti-graft agency.
“It’s an emotional thing for the Niger delta to have one of their own at the top,” Anyakwee Nsirimovu, executive director of Port Harcourt-based Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, said by phone April 15.
While Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party saw its majority in the Senate and House of Representatives reduced in last week’s legislative elections, it still scored well. The PDP took 59 of the 90 Senate seats declared so far and 40 of 262 seats in the lower chamber, the electoral commission said April 12.
Fifteen of the Senate’s 109 districts and 48 of the House’s 360 constituencies will hold the vote on April 26 because of problems with the ballot papers, INEC said. To win in the first round, Jonathan must obtain a majority and secure 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states.
“The PDP has won across the country, unlike the other parties,” Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, said by phone April 15 from Abuja. “In places it didn’t win, it came second. I think that lead will be difficult to overturn by the other parties.”
While Jonathan’s campaign slogan is a “breath of fresh air,” his PDP has ruled Nigeria since it emerged from military rule in 1999. There are no real ideological differences between the candidates, said Rotimi Oyekanmi, the chief executive officer of Renaissance Capital West Africa.
“Instead, there are a number of critical issues. One is the power situation, another is the Niger Delta and then corruption,” he said April 15 by phone from Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. “They all seem to be saying the same things, though saying they’ll do better than the other.”
Jonathan has pledged to target spending on infrastructure, including power and railways, in a bid to boost employment in a country where more than half of the people live on less than $1 a day, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
“The road map for power, which aims to improve power supply by selling the state-owned power companies to investors, is one critical thing he has done,” Oyekanmi said.
Buhari and Ribadu have said that Jonathan has failed to tackle poverty, corruption and violence.
The son of a canoe-making family with a degree in zoology, Jonathan was relatively unknown until 1999 when he became deputy governor of Bayelsa state. He became governor when his boss, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was impeached by the state assembly after being charged in the U.K. with money laundering. In 2007, he was picked as the running mate on the PDP ticket and in May assumed the presidency when Umaru Yar’Adua died.
Yar’Adua started an amnesty program in the Niger River delta that calmed militant attacks. Hague-based Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. of San Ramon, California, Total SA of France and Italy’s Eni SpA run joint ventures with the state oil company that pump more than 90 percent of the West African nation’s oil.
Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, which accounts for 80 percent of government revenue, earned $59 billion last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
The competition for the spoils of office spurred a violent electoral campaign with at least 25 people killed during the legislative vote, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman Attahiru Jega said on April 13.
An explosion was reported at about 8:30 p.m. on April 15 at an electoral commission office in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, capital of Borno state. No one was hurt, Borno Police Commissioner Mike Zuokumor said by phone yesterday.
The electoral commission expressed “regret” over the arrests of some people who were observing the vote, according to an e-mailed statement. “Partisan agents” posing as observers were arrested and some legitimate monitors were rounded up at the same time by mistake, the commission said.
–With assistance from Ardo Hazzad in Bauchi and Chris Kay in London. Editors: Karl Maier, Emily Bowers, Andrew Blackman, Christian Thompson.