Otuoke (Bayelsa- President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife Dame Patience Jonathan, and President’s mother, Madam Eunice, were the first persons to cast their votes at Otuoke Ward 13, Unit 39 at about 3 p.m.
Jonathan said after casting his vote that he was hopeful of electoral success and acknowledged the failure of the card reader where he went to vote.
He, however, expressed optimism that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would conduct credible polls across the country.
The President repeated his appeal early in the day that the electorate should be patient with the electoral body as it had the competence to conduct free, fair and credible polls.
“I thank you, let me again use this unique opportunity to congratulate our dear country Nigeria and all who have voted or who will still vote. We appreciate their patience and they should sympathise with INEC.
“INEC wants to use the card reader to make sure that the electoral process is credible and acceptable by international observers. Somehow, being the first time we are practicing with card readers, there have been some issues in some units but we should bear with them.
“I believe that at the end of the day we all will be happy.’’
He told newsmen that he had information about some hitches “but it is not all the information that I have but I can say it because INEC has the responsibility to talk about their own functions.
“The basic thing is that some places complained that the card readers are not working at the same time INEC has directed that in polling units that the card readers are not working they should take the manual option.
“I believe that all Nigerians who want to vote will definitely vote. That is a good news. The only thing is that some people probably must have stayed there longer than necessary. But I still plead with them that even if they spent 24 hour for the sake of this country, please they should bear with us; they should do it.’’
Jonathan refused to place any blame on INEC saying “I am not putting blames, I don’t believe in blames, government is one. I don’t blame INEC, I don’t blame judiciary, I don’t blame police, I don’t blame the soldiers I don’t blame the executive.
“As a nation, we have different departments of government that handle responsibilities. The issue of elections is INEC’s exclusive responsibility and nobody will speak for them, that is what I am saying that even if I have some information I cannot speak for INEC.
“Jega is the person that can speak for INEC. I speak for Federal Government.’’
The President said he was hopeful that the elections would turn out successful in spite of the
“We are here in my very home and we have seen that it is peaceful everywhere. I believe and I am convinced that the elections will be free and fair and extremely credible.’’
“I don’t think the issue of card reader is limited to Ogbia; if the card readers there are not working, I think it is a national issue. It is not limited to Bayelsa State.
“We have similar situation in Anambara State. In fact the governor of Anambra State called and I asked him to calm down, he was boiling. I have similar situation in Delta, where the governor called and I asked him to cool down and I am aware that INEC has directed that the RECs should ensure that where the card readers are not working they should take the option of manual accreditation.’’
On alleged violence in some states, he said: “I am not aware of violence in Enugu state. What we heard about Enugu was that there was a bomb blast but when I called the governor, the governor said there was no bomb blast.
“But that there were vehicles that came from the North and somebody suspected that there must be an IED and it is somehow a scare; and it was checked and there was no IED. There was no blast in Enugu; I even had an information that there was a blast in Uyo and I called the governor and there was no blast in Uyo.’’
He added that “what happened in northern part of Gombe is that the war against terrorists is going on, voting or no voting because we must take over Sambisa forest.
“And some of these insurgents are running away from that part and they were intercepted by some soldiers and there was a kind of a cross fire between soldiers and terrorists that had nothing to do with the elections.’’
When asked to share his privacy on how he voted, Jonathan said: “I voted for myself and voted for PDP in all the other elections.’’(NAN)