Over the weekend, tens of millions of voters took to the polls in Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy.
While turnout for presidential elections has been low in recent elections, this one has brought notable levels of engagement — especially among the youth.
“This time around, everybody, everybody is coming out to vote,” said Joy Ogbams, a businesswoman in Lagos who voted on Saturday.
Now, the voters are waiting for the results in what is shaping up to be one of the country’s most-competitive elections in recent history.
The implementation of new, biometric voter registration and electoral transmission technology has brought hopes that this could be Nigeria’s most transparent election.
But some, like Ogbams, are not convinced.
“I don’t know. This country, there’s nothing money can’t do in this country. I can’t trust them. I’m just praying our vote counts,” she said.
At another polling station, Elijah Achimi waited to vote. He said he traveled two days by bus for this election.
“I want change in my country. I’m not happy with the way the situation is going, and I’ve not seen any progress,” Achimi said.
“Right now, we need to get things right. If not, our children, ourselves, will suffer.”
While observers said the election was generally peaceful across the country, voters at one polling station in Lagos were reeling from the disappointment of their destroyed votes.
Voter Anthony Ogwo said that armed men had accosted voters at his polling station.
“They shot in the air. So, we started running, scared. And they were throwing stones at us,” he said.
He said the men took the presidential ballot box, and dumped their completed paper ballots into a nearby gutter. He pointed to a pile of dirty, torn ballots littering the ground.
“One of those is mine.”
Ogwo said he helped retrieve them as evidence: “I am not happy. Because my vote should be here.”
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