Nigeria await for winner of presidential vote

An electoral commission officer counts votes at Shagari Primary School polling station in Yola, Adamawa State on February 23, 2019 after the polls were closed during the day of the General elections. 


LAGOS - Nigeria on Sunday awaited results from its presidential election as civil society groups warned that disorganisation and violence may have undermined the polls.

Results from 120,000 polling stations in 36 states where voting was held on Saturday were expected to trickle in to the capital Abuja after being collated at the state and local levels.

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, will officially announce the outcome in the coming days.

Whoever becomes the next leader of Africa's most-populous country and leading oil producer will face a daunting to-do list, from widespread insecurity and endemic corruption to an economy recovering from recession.

While INEC said it was "generally satisfied" with the vote, polling stretched into Saturday evening in areas where equipment failed to function or arrive on time. 

It also remained unclear what INEC would do about the 8,500 polling places where voting wasn't possible.

READ: Nigeria lost $2-billion in election delay

Civil society groups monitoring the vote reported 16 deaths from election-linked violence in eight of Nigeria's 36 states.

Nigeria's last election in 2015 was seen as free and fair but Idayat Hassan of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) warned that this year's bloodshed and malfunctions amounted to setbacks.

"This election was a serious deterioration from 2015," she told AFP. "What we now expect from a credible, free and fair election was not there."

Awaiting victory

The victor of the 2015 election was 76-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari, who declared on Saturday that he "would be the winner" of this year's vote where he was standing for a second four-year term.

His chief opponent is Atiku Abubakar, a 72-year-old former vice-president making his fifth shot at the presidency.

Results trickling in from individual polling units on Sunday showed neither man with a commanding lead, but offered snapshots of each candidate's performance.

Abubakar failed to win the polling station where he voted in Yola, capital of his home state Adamawa.

While Buhari personally cast a ballot in his hometown Daura in the northern Katsina state, it remained unclear if he had won the polling unit set up for the  presidential villa in the capital Abuja.

Originally set for February 16, INEC delayed at the last minute the presidential election to February 23, angering voters who had already travelled home to participate.

The delay saw the main parties accuse each other of conspiring with INEC to rig the result, although neither has produced evidence.