Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nigerians go to polls despite the chaos and violence

- Nigerians went to the polls on Saturday in parliamentary elections originally scheduled for last week but were postponed, and hoped to find a credible electoral process in the most populous nation in Africa despite the disruption and violence. At least seven people died in four separate incidents in the last hours before the start of voting.

The figure is in addition to 10 others who died in the bombing at an election office on Friday night. The violence that has killed at least 100 people during the election campaign, in addition to the logistical chaos that forced the postponement of parliamentary elections a week ago, have renewed doubts about whether democracy can work in Nigeria.

"We want to show the rest of the world that we are ready for democracy," said Mukaila Odukoya, a man of 45 years in the Obalende district of Lagos, while people looking for their names on the registration of a polling station. "This will be much better than in the past. There will be one vote per person.

It will be easy for people to buy papers, even if they are trying," he said, while showing his voting card proudly. Nigeria, which has a larger population than Russia, was unable to hold fair elections and an orderly since the end of military rule 12 years ago. Saturday's legislative elections take place just before the presidential elections on April 16 where it is expected a triumph for President Goodluck Jonathan.

Elections for governors in 36 states of Nigeria will be held on 26 April. While elections officials did not get time to a few places on Saturday and materials were still to be delivered when voters began to appear in schools, there were signs that preparations in Nigeria were better this time than during the first attempt.

Security measures were much more stringent. Soldiers used tables, tires and other elements to create roadblocks and traffic restrictions apply, while children on bicycles share roads cleared in Lagos with teenagers who were playing football and groups of goats. Under procedures to prevent fraud, to 73 million voters must first register from 08.00 hours before the start of the vote to 12.30.

The National Assembly seats are contested fiercely by candidates who could get jobs where only the bonuses over a million dollars a year. The ruling Democratic Party would remain the largest political group, but with a smaller majority.

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