President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, have both been accredited to vote in today's presidential election.
The president arrived his polling unit -unit 39 of Ward 13 in Otuabala - at about 8:40 am and concluded his accreditation at 8:45am. Mr Jonathan had flown into Port Harcourt yesterday and proceeded from there to his home town, Otoueke in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. He was also accompanied by a few close aides and security officials led by Mohammed Yesufu, the Deputy Inspector General of Police for the South South (zone 5).
After his accreditation Mr Jonathan told journalists that he will address them when he casts his vote.
Although the INEC staff arrived early, and accreditation started at 8am, only a few people had turned out for accreditation at the unit before Mr Jonathan's arrival.
The conduct of the election in the town has been generally peaceful and all the residents interviewed said they were out to vote for Mr. Jonathan.
"He is our man," said Ebimobowei Ogbodu, who had travelled to the town from the Bayelsa State capital Yenagoa to vote. Mr Ogbodu added that there was no other candidate apart from Mr Jonathan.
Last night, people of the town were in a celebratory mood, despite heavy security presence - up to 20 police vans and an armoured vehicle were sighted in the town and police officers and soldiers were all over the place. Music was played through the night at the town hall and most of the youth spotted there and on the streets were dressed like they were having a party.
Traffic to the town also increased as many people travelled from back home from Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt and beyond for the election. Consequently, all the hotels and lodgings in the town were fully booked and many visitors had to sleep in neighbouring towns while many others drove in from Yenagoa this morning.
President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed hope that there will be no runoff in the presidential election.
The president said this today while addressing journalists after voting in his hometown, Otoueke, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
“I pray that we do not go into by-elections because of the cost implication,” he said. “Nigeria is a very big country; [and] to conduct one round of election if you calculate the amount of money to pay ad-hoc staff [and] security agencies. It is a colossal sum of money. So, for even the economic reasons and to reduce tension, we pray that whoever will win should win at the first ballot.”
Mr Jonathan, accompanied by his wife Patience, his spokesperson Imma Niboro, and his Special Adviser on Strategy, Oronto Douglas among others arrived at the polling unit around 12:30pm and cast his vote about five minutes later with his supporters cheering loudly.
Though Mr Jonathan said he was optimistic that he would win, he assured journalists that he would leave office should he fail to do. He also expressed satisfaction with the electoral process and democracy in the country.
“The foundation which democracy is built on is the power of the ballot paper. Nigeria is now experiencing true democracy where we the politicians have to go to the people because the power belongs to the people,” he said.
Reminded of concerns by some opposition parties that the election is likely to be manipulated, Mr Jonathan said he had promised Nigerians that he would not interfere with the electoral process, and that he has kept his promise.
“I said that I will contest the elections as a sitting president and I will not influence the electoral process and that has been demonstrated in the previous elections,” Mr Jonathan said.
“You can go and find out from the INEC people; I have not shown any interest. The day that the [National Assembly] election was cancelled I was here to vote. So, I heard it just like any other person and that shows the degree of freedom of INEC.”
Follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Newgenafrica Visit our partner site: http://www.ckrbs.co.uk/ WE ARE PROUD TO BE UNIQUELY AFRICAN! UNIQUELY YOU!!