Voting in the presidential and National Assembly elections began throughout Nigeria at about 8am today.
The elections initially scheduled for 16 February, was delayed by the Independent National Electoral Commission by one week, over logistics challenges.
But on Friday, INEC chairman, Mahmood Jega, said the commission is ‘more than ready’ to conduct the election, seen more as a two-horse race between the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC faces the challenge of re-election from Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the PDP.
As part of the enlightenment of what to expect at polling booths, INEC said three ballot boxes will be available at polling centres, a red one for the presidential election, a black one for the senate election and the green ballot box for the House of Representatives election.
Out of 84 million registered voters, 72.775 million Nigerians will be able to cast their ballots. They were the people who collected the permanent voters card, before the deadline.
A confident Yakubu gave the assurance of the commission’s readiness on Friday in Abuja while addressing a press conference on its preparations for the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Yakubu said that the commission has concluded the deployment of sensitive and non sensitive materials to the 774 local government areas across the country.
“We engaged 825,543 ad hoc staff ranging from presiding officers to collation and returning officers. We have mobilised 80,000 commercial vehicles and about 996 boats for the deployment of personnel and materials.
“The materials include 707,892 ballot boxes and voting cubicles, and we are mobilising these to various locations by land and sea.
“We have accredited 120 domestic and 36 international observer groups, deploying accumulative number of 73,000 observers.
” We have concluded the movement of personnel, materials to the 774 local and 8809 RACs nationwide.
“All arrangements are now in place to facilitate opening of polls at 8 a.m. on Saturday,” he said.
He said that measures were also in place to combat vote buying and other electoral malpractices.
He said that the national situation room would open at 6 p.m. on Friday, while the national collation centre would also be opened at 6 p.m. on Sunday, both situated at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.
The chairman advised eligible voters to visit gotomypu.ng to obtain location to their polling units, saying in the last 10 days about 190,000 persons had utilised the commission’s various social media platforms to geolacate their Polling Units.
He said that the election would be by simultaneous accreditation and voting system, and that only registered voters with Permanent Voter Cards would be allowed to vote.
“As we go to poll tomorrow, I appeal to voters to be peaceful and orderly before, during and after the elections.
” The police working with other security agencies have assured us of adequate security for voters, electoral officers, observers and the media.
“May I also appeal to all to ensure compliance with the usual restriction of movement for those who are not observers or on essential dut,” the chairman said.
Yakubu also urged members of the public to desist from issuing any results of the elections, saying only INEC was empowered by law to declare results.
” The commission will work assiduously to ensure that collation and declaration of results are done at the various levels expeditiously.
On his part, the acting Inspector General of Police (I-G), Mohammed Adamu, reiterated that maximum security would be provided before, during and after the election.