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Nigeria on the march again as presidential, N/Assembly elections hold today

No fewer than 4,241 contenders are slugging it out at the polls for the only 470 federal elective offices on the ballot.

Expectations are sky high in Africa’s most populous nation as millions head to the polls to elect the next president and National Assembly members old and new.

With many describing the historic presidential poll as a three-horse race, the consensus is that this is Nigeria’s most competitive to date.

Newsmen are in each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to give you the latest on the polls as it unfolds.

Power Of The PVC

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s voter register totals 94 million, and no fewer than 87.2 million of them have obtained their permanent voter cards (PVCs) in anticipation of the nationwide vote today as well as on March 11 for the governorship and state houses of assembly elections.

The top three states in collected PVCs are Lagos (6,214,970), Kano (5,594,193) and Kaduna (4,335,208).

On the flipside, the lowest card collections by state are Ekiti (958,052), Bayelsa (1,009,895) and Yobe (1,437,851).

4,241 Gladiators, 470 Seats

No fewer than 4,241 contenders are slugging it out at the polls for the only 470 federal elective offices on the ballot.

The presidential race is populated by 18 hopefuls and their running mates. On the legislative side, INEC listed 1,101 candidates in the running for 109 senatorial seats, while 3,122 candidates would vie for 360 House of Representatives seats.

In total, 4,223 candidates were initially expected to contest 469 federal legislative offices.

However, that number will see a slight drop with INEC’s suspension of the poll in the Enugu East senatorial district over the gruesome murder of the Labour Party candidate, Oyibo Chukwu, three days ago.

The Enugu East election has been postponed to March 11.

The Road To BVAS

The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) is considered by some to be an unsung hero of the 2023 elections.

INEC has made giant strides in the technological advancement of the electoral process such that the Commission’s efforts have led to BVAS’ use this year, for the first time in any general elections.

It represents a significant upgrade from the Smart Card Reader which held sway in the 2015 and 2019 general elections, and proved susceptible to compromise by election riggers.

How To Vote

Gone are the days when voters are made to line up for hours to get accredited and then head home briefly, only to return moments later to join yet another long queue to ultimately fingerprint their ballots and cast their votes.

With countless hours saved, the electoral process has been made much less cumbersome.

Bucking The Trend?

One question that was recurrent throughout the journey to the polls was ‘will elections hold as scheduled?’ The question resulted from the experience over the last three general elections – the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections were all postponed.

That and attacks on INEC facilities across several states, insecurity in the country and worrisome reports of political violence meant there were many who were sceptical about the polls holding as scheduled.

The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, believes these general elections will break the jinx. “Generally speaking, the situation is calm in the country as far as our preparation is concerned,” Professor Yakubu said at a press briefing on Friday. “Voter enthusiasm is high and so too is our determination to conduct credible elections. Tomorrow is election day,” he declared.

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