By Correspondent Chinyere Ogbonna – The results for today’s presidential election are to be publicly displayed and tallied on stalled electronic screens as they arrive from the states, at the Presidential Collation Center in Abuja, the nation’s seat of government.
Voting figures from all the thirty-six states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, collated at the various polling units, will be summed up electronically at the centre located in the central business district.
This marks a shift from the previous approach from the 2003 and 2007 elections, when results were manually computed. This method adopted by the current INEC boss will feature the twenty-one presidential candidates and their parties on a number of screens, with respective scores per state as well as the cumulative figure updated as new data trickle in.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, the essence of the centre is to facilitate the transfer of election results to enable the commission declare the presidential poll in good time.
The Presidential Collation Centre was unveiled yesterday on 14 April. Meanwhile, The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, while receiving delegations of international observer missions from ECOWAS and the EU, said the electoral body was ready for a smooth presidential poll.
Professor Jega assured the international observers that all problems encountered during the National Assembly election. He said that materials required for the election were already on the ground and distributed in the states and actual distribution and deployment to particularly far-flung corners of the states already commenced.
According to INEC boss, a very good working relationship exists between INEC officers and security agents. Professor Jega said INEC has put in place measures to ensure the success of the elections.
Nigeria commenced its general election with parliamentary polls last Saturday April 9,2011 after initial postponements over logistics and election materials. The elections could still not hold in some districts across the country because election materials were not sufficient. Voting had started in some districts before the initial postponement.
Parliamentary polls would now hold in the affected districts alongside governorship elections on April 26, 2011.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has called on Nigerians to come out in large numbers to vote for candidates of their choice in the presidential election this Saturday as he restated his commitment to credible polls.
The very visible candidates contesting for the presidency are former military head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC.Others are Kano State Governor, Mohammed Shekarau of the All Nigeria People Party, ANPP, former anti-corruption chief,Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
In a related development, the Police and other security agencies will adopt new strategies to ensure hitch-free polling in tomorrow’s presidential election.
The Commissioner of Police in-charge of Lagos State Command, south-west Nigeria, Mr.Suleiman Abbah who made this known, said that the agencies would not allow anybody to breach public peace during the poll.
Briefing journalists in Lagos, Mr. Abbah said that there would be restriction on vehicular movement between eight o’clock in the evening yesterday and six tomorrow this morning. There will also be restriction on movement between eight o’clock in the morning and six in the evening today.
However, those on special duties and INEC officials are exempted from the restriction.The State Security Service, SSS, has advised Nigerians to any suspicious movement to the appropriate authorities. The Spokesperson of the SSS, Mariam Ogar said voters should not allow anybody to drop a bag in the polling centers.
The head of the African Observer team, former Ghanaian president, Mr. John Kufuor said the African continent expects a credible election from Nigeria and that Nigeria must get it right this time. The AU delegation said if last Saturday’s election is anything to go by, Nigeria should conduct free and fair polls. African Union is among foreign observers in the country to monitor the 2011 general polls.
Meanwhile the three hundred strong ECOWAS team to monitor the presidential election have been deployed to states in the country. The former president of the Interim government of Liberia, Mr. Amos Sawyer is leading the ECOWAS team. Members of the team include representatives of the ECOWAS Council, Civil Society Organizations to mention a few.
The 2011 general election is the fourth beginning from 1999 when a democratic government was installed after years of military rule.
Previous elections have been marred with allegations of electoral fraud. Late Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua admitted the election that brought him to power in 2007 might not have been free and fair, which made him to set up an electoral reform group whose report the government is already implementing after amendments.
But international observers have so far described the National Assembly election as a major break by a ‘bad past’ in spite of pockets of complaints. INEC has vowed to address all lapses recorded during the parliamentary poll last Saturday.
Meanwhile INEC, has set up an investigation panel to investigate the crisis resulting from a senatorial district were both candidates, former Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akinyili and former governor of Anambra state Dr. Chris Ngige are claiming victory in last Saturday’s parliamentary poll.