Polls have closed in Nigeria after tens of millions cast ballots in a tightly-fought race for the presidency and parliament of Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.
Civil society groups said that the opening of more than half of all polling locations was delayed by at least an hour, with many others experiencing problems with the new voting system. There was occasional violence throughout the nation, including a suspected attack by Islamic radicals and a few incidents of disturbance by hired thugs.
As night fell, however, it became evident that fears of widespread anarchy were unjustified. The official declaration of results could take between three and five days, but it is likely that the winner of the presidential election will become apparent much sooner when the number of individual voting stations is tallied.
In Lagos, the commercial hub, enormous numbers of voters patiently waited for election authorities, who were frequently two or three hours late, for much of the morning.
Experts have spoken of a “barometer” election that might mark a pivotal turning point for Nigeria after years of escalating insecurity and severe economic difficulties. A legitimate election and progress in addressing the country’s various challenges are viewed by many as crucial to the stability of a large portion of Africa.
Around 300,000 police personnel were assigned to protect 176,000 polling sites, and all road, water, and air travel was prohibited during the election. Also, land borders have been closed.