April 10, 2011 by staff
Nigeria Newspapers, Nigeria had the votes on Sunday after millions went to the parliamentary elections despite violence and delays, with early indications showing a loosening grip of the ruling party in the legislature.
Deadly bomb blasts cast a shadow over an offer for the most populous country in Africa that the vote be credible after a series of violent and deeply flawed elections, but officials and activists said the elections were a remarkable improvement.
The twice postponed the parliamentary elections were the first of three crucial elections this month, presidential elections this Saturday and ballots for governor and the State Assembly on April 26.
“In general, most people will agree in the election yesterday was better than previous surveys since,” said Chidi Odinkalu of the Open Society Justice Initiative, referring to the year in Nigeria returned to civilian rule.
“This does not mean, however, was not perfect. There’s still room for improvement.”
A great effort has been undertaken to organize credible elections, with the appointment of a respected academic at the head of the electoral commission, who ordered a series of reforms.
The previous voter list full of fake tickets, including Mike Tyson and Nelson Mandela, was ousted and replaced by a new, electronically compiled by taking impressions of each finger of each voter.
More than 73 million people registered to vote.
Safeguards means leaving the day of election fraud and theft of ballot boxes – the main problems in Nigeria – were also in place.
Reports from local media said the first official results showed key losses for the People’s Democratic Party.
The chairman of the House of Representatives, Bankole Dimeji and the daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a senator, seemed on the verge of losing their seats, several newspapers reported.
There was clear enthusiasm throughout the country to vote despite a bomb attack on an election office on Friday night that killed people and wounding dozens.
Two explosions occurred in the northeastern city of Maiduguri on Saturday – one at a polling place and another at a polling classification. Authorities have not officially confirmed any deaths, but sources said several people had been killed.
There was also sporadic violence in other areas, including the oil-rich Niger Delta, known for voter fraud and intimidation in previous surveys.
“The elections were generally peaceful and without problems, although there were some perceived flaws that the committee will address in subsequent elections,” said electoral commission spokesman Kayode Idowu.
“There were also outbreaks of violence in some areas, but did not negatively affect the overall conduct of the elections.”
He hoped that all votes to be considered by the final on Sunday.
Speaking on Saturday night, the electoral commission chief Attahiru Jega also said that the day seems to have been generally well.
“There are very few cases of theft of ballot boxes – of course, politicians are still living in the past,” he told reporters.
“I still believe that if they steal the ballot boxes and ballot sheets rob and steal a result, it will still be able to declare the results fraudulent.”
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