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Nigeria’s Election Could Serve as Model for Other African Nations

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Given the often grisly news from Nigeria in recent months, I
did not know what I would encounter as part of the
International Republican Institute’s election observation
mission . There were concerns of widespread violence
throughout the country. But my experiences encouraged
me. The orderly, transparent process could serve as a
model for other African nations.
It is apparently always hot in Kaduna, a
city in northwest Nigeria, at this time of
year. But something else was in the air
on March 28. For the first time since
Nigeria’s transition to democracy in
1999, there was going to be a close
election.
At polling site after polling site,
thousands of people stood in line for
hours, waiting for Independent National Electoral
Commission officials to arrive with election materials. The
crowds awaiting accreditation were strikingly calm under
the searing African sun. Despite all the security briefings
and grim news I had ingested, I never once felt that I was in
a situation where things would turn violent. Far from it:
People were excited to vote and cheerfully determined not to
leave polling sites until every vote was cast and counted.
Nigerians were eager to have their voices heard the
democratic way–peacefully.
Voters at polling stations across Kaduna helped the elderly,
the disabled, mothers carrying children, and pregnant
women move to the front of the lines.
I saw resilience and patience as voters endured technical
challenges that accompanied Nigeria’s shift to a biometric
card reader system for verifying voters. There were
numerous difficulties with fingerprint scanners programmed
to recognize voters from each of Nigeria’s more than
150,000 districts.
At the end of a long day, citizens gathered around the
electoral commission officials at polling units as they
tabulated votes. The process was transparent. Exuberance
and anxiety hung in the air as voters watched ballots being
added to their candidate’s pile. Read more HERE.

Credits: Wall Street Journal.

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