Sunday, March 29, 2015

I Was There, Watching Thousands Of Nigerians Flock To The Polls To Vote

Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
The boxes used for casting votes. One is for the presidency and two are for parliamentary positions.

By Linus Okechukwu
Correspondent
ENUGU STATE, Nigeria – Travelling through different regions within Enugu state today, I saw a large number of voters – tens of thousands of them – crowding into polling stations to cast ballots.
Though three bombs went off in Enugu, voters never gave up. It happened as early as 7 a.m., but police anti-bomb squad were at the WTC primary school in New Layout, Enugu to defuse two of the bombs before the third one went off.
The police never allowed us to get close, but the bombs, which were concealed in a Honda Accord which was few meters away from the polling unit, destroyed the car.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
The busy streets of the Enugu
metro area were quiet during the
election. All vehicular and other
movement was banned until 5 p.m.
Enugu state Commissioner of Police Dan Bature confirmed there were no casualties, and urged people to continue voting as there was no reason to be scared. He said the police have yet to figure out the offenders.
All forms of movement were banned – so roads were free. Only journalists, electoral officials, foreign and local monitoring teams and security agents were allowed to move freely.
I won't forget the old woman I met at a suburb in Enugu who was just too passionate about voting in a new president – one she believed would help Nigeria surmount its problems.
As old as she was – and barely able to speak few words in English – her courage to stand under the sun was, I reckon, amazing.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
Voters in Orba, a village in the Udenu local government area of  Enugu State wait to cast their votes. Political apathy used to be a major problem in Nigeria, but the growing level of political consciousness has outshone apathy.  It's little wonder why so many people came out to vote.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
One of the polling booths used to ensure voter privacy.
Some voters who spoke to me complained about the card readers used to authenticate the biometric cards, a new technology introduced this year. With frustration on their faces, they said officials cannot vouch for how well those card readers work because they failed a lot of times.
Ultimately there were enough setbacks – technical and otherwise – to extend the voting into Sunday.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
An official of the electoral commission tries to authenticate the biometric card used for voting. Nigerian election officials introduced the biometric cards for the first time this year to reduce fraud.
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