By Emmanuel Oloniruha/Abuja
Voting begins throughout Nigeria at 8am today as voters return to the polls to elect state governors and legislators as well as chairmen and councillors for the six Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Councils.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, 72.7 million or 86.63 per cent of registered voters who have collected their Permanent Voter Cards, are expected to take part in the election.
INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu was confident Friday that 119,973 polling units in all 1,082 constituencies will open simultaneously throughout the country by 8 a.m today.
Yakubu said that the commission had effectively tackled the challenge of logistics as materials for the election have been earlier delivered to all States and the FCT.
However, INEC has postponed till 23 March the House of Assembly Election for the Nassarawo/Binyeri State Constituency of Mayo Belwa Local Government Area in Adamawa following the death of a member of the assembly, Mr Adamu Kwanate, who was candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.
Until his death on Wednesday, Kwanate was the member representing the affected state constituency.
Voters in the constituency will choose the governor for the state. There are 28 candidates, apart from the incumbent Muhammadu Jibrilla Bindow. And there also 313 candidates for the remaining 24 House of Assembly elections.
Among the governorship contestants in Adamawa are four women; Lami Musa of People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN), Na’ama Bulama of Progressive People Alliance (PPA), Rukayya Audu of Action People’s Party (APP) and Elizabeth Isa of Change Advocacy Party (CAP). There are also 25 women contending for the legislative poll.
In Rivers, 64 candidates are running for the governorship post to unseat Governor Nyesom Wike.
Forty four candidates are on the ballot in Plateau, 38 Kaduna, 18 in Jigawa, 50 in Delta, 26 in Cross River, 31 in Kebbi 31 and 41 in Ogun.
In Lagos State, there are 45 governorship candidates on the ballot, with pundits predicting a two-horse race between Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the ruling APC and Jimi Agbaje of the PDP. Also in the state, 640 candidates of various parties are eying the 40 seats in the House of Assembly.
Sokoto State has 51 political parties contending for the governorship seat, along with incumbent Waziri Tambuwal of the PDP. The APC is fielding Tambuwal’s former deputy Ahmed Aliyu and he is widely expected to upset his former boss.
Sokoto also has 462 candidates for the state House of Assembly election.
Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari has 18 candidates for the governorship seat and 316 candidates contesting for the 34 state House of Assembly seats.The ruling APC is expected to coast home to victory in the elections.
Abia has 32 candidates contesting the governorship seat and 353 candidates vying for the 24-member legislature.
In Yobe, there are 13 candidates participating in the governorship election. The incumbent Ibrahim Gaidam has completed his two terms and two weeks ago, won the election into the senate. .
Anambra has 518 candidates battling for the 30 assembly positions in the state.
In Kano State, 52 candidates are gunning for governorship and 769 candidates for the state assembly election; and in Enugu State 42 candidates are in the governorship race, while 310 candidates would be vying for the 24 seats in the legislature.
Thirty four candidates are on the ballot in Niger State for the governorship seat, including the incumbent, Abubakar Bello of the APC. There are 395 candidates for the state House of Assembly election.
Imo has 67 candidates jostling for the governorship slot and 981 slugging it out for the 27 seats in the state House of Assembly.
Ogun has 41 candidates contesting for the seat of governor while, 582 candidates are jostling for the 26 state constituencies.
The governorship race in Ogun is seen by observers as a straight fight between Prince Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress and Abdulkabir Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement. The other two main contenders are Gboyega Isiaka of the ADC and Senator Buruji Kashamu of the PDP.
The state in the last few days to the polls had witnessed alliances across party lines to boost the candidates of both APC and APM.
For the FCT Area Council election, a total of 105 candidates are contesting for the six chairmanship positions while 701 candidates seek to occupy the 62 councillor seats.
Similarly, 40 women are in the race for the chairmanship positions, while 88 women are seeking to be elected as councillors.
In addition to the election for governors and state legislators, INEC is also conducting supplementary elections in 14 States covering seven senatorial districts and 24 Federal Constituencies.
The elections in the affected areas were disrupted mainly by acts of violence including ballot box snatching, abduction of INEC officials, over voting and failure to adhere to regulations and guidelines in the national elections conducted on Feb. 23.
While cancelling the affected polls, the electoral umpire noted that number of registered voters in some polling units involved in each constituency was more than the votes received by some candidates with the highest number of votes, hence the need for supplementary elections to determine the actual winners.
Collation of results will take place in 8,809 Registration Areas or Wards, 774 Local Government Areas, 36 States and the FCT.
The polling units are expected to open by 8 a.m. and close by 2 p.m. with the last person on the line allowed to vote.
INEC has said that the use of Smart Card Readers and Permanent Voter Cards are compulsory for the elections.