With votes in, dangerous part of Nigerian elections begins

After waiting in long lines around the country over the past two days to vote, Nigerians are engaged in another long wait—to find out who will lead their country for the next four years. Both incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan and challenger retired general Muhammadu Buhari claim early leads.

Millions of people waited patiently to cast their votes for hours due to delays caused by various technical issues. Most notable were difficulties with a new personal voter card reader technology, which prompted the embarrassing spectacle of president Jonathan being unable to vote initially on Saturday morning.

The wait, of more than 48 hours after voting began, is causing tensions to rise. Voters in some areas of the country are worried that what has been a remarkably transparent process on the ground could be vulnerable to vote tampering at the national level.

Ultimately, the sooner results are announced, and Nigerians convinced the elections were fair and free, the better the chances the country has of avoiding violence and disruption.

The elections have so far been widely lauded as a success by both Nigerian and international observers including the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Yet, the most dangerous period in Nigeria’s electoral process is right after results are announced. In 2011 more than 800 people were killed in post-election violence.