(AA) – Nigerians will go to the polls on Saturday to elect a new president and parliament after the polls were delayed for six weeks for security reasons.
Two weeks later, on April 11, gubernatorial polls will be held in all but five of the country’s 36 states.
The remaining five states – Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Anambra and Edo – all have different dates for elections owing to judicial pronouncements related to electoral fraud.
State assembly elections, meanwhile, will be held countrywide on April 11.
Following are key facts about Saturday’s crucial poll:
– Voting will take place at 119, 973 polling centers across the country.
– Nigeria has a total of 68,833,476 registered voters, down from 73.5 million four years ago. The reduction has been attributed to the recent elimination of double registration.
– Only 56,431,255 eligible voters (some 82 percent of the total) have obtained permanent voter cards (PVCs), without which voters cannot cast ballots.
- Nigeria’s electoral commission will deploy 145,000 smart card readers to prevent the use of counterfeit PVCs and multiple voting. It is the first time the technology is used in the country.
– Accreditation of voters will commence at 8am Saturday and end at 1pm nationwide.
– Voting will begin at 1pm until the last accredited voter on line casts his/her ballot.
– Although polling officers are allowed to say how many votes each party won at the polling unit level, tallying will go on through the night and into the next day, when results will be officially announced.
– Nigerian law forbids the media and observers – even political parties – to announce any “unofficial” results.
– Aggrieved parties have 30 days from the election to legally challenge final poll results.
– Fourteen parties are fielding candidates in the presidential poll, all of whom – with one exception – are male. There are, however, four female vice-presidential candidates.
– The race is largely between incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has ruled the country since 1999, and Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who is running on the ticket of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), an amalgam of political interests.
– The winner must clinch more than 50 percent of all valid votes plus a mandatory 25 percent in two-thirds of the country’s 36 states.
– If no candidate is able to win outright, the two frontrunners will compete for a simple majority in a runoff vote.
- Nigerians on Saturday will also elect 360 members of the country’s House of Representatives and 109 senators.
- All of the country’s political parties, 28 in all, will field candidates in the parliamentary poll.