‘Elections? No problem let them vote’ – Nigerians in Ghana abandon elections

With a reported 1million Nigerians in Ghana, it is easy to expect that bus terminals plying the Accra-Lagos route will be busy because of the presidential elections in Nigeria this Saturday.

This is not the case, however, according to checks by Joy News’ Michaela Anderson.

Nigeria’s borders with neighbouring countries were closed Wednesday, making it impossible to travel to Nigeria.

Transport operators say the move means they will lose “a lot of money” for three days of no commercial activity.

A travel agent told Joy News about two or three buses go out daily to Nigeria. They will not be doing any of that from Thursday to Saturday.

They have had to turn away some passengers who were hoping to join their fellow citizens to decide whether Goodluck Jonathan remains Nigeria’s President or General Muhammadu Buhari should take over.

But not all Nigerians feel stranded. Others feel safe in their decision not to make the journey to cast a vote.

Some Nigerians in Ghana are refusing to return home for the presidential election, citing security concerns.

“I can’t vote [and] am not worried because there are a lot of people already to vote”, says a voter from River State which has experienced violence. She says she has younger relatives there.

She is not alone in her apathy. A woman who says she is into evangelism explained: “I am not bothered because what I am doing here is very very important. I am also winning souls for here…preaching the gospel so if I travel it is going to affect the [Apostolic Church] flock here”.

She needed three ‘no’s to reiterate her desire to stay put in Ghana.

“No, no, no problem they should be doing their election, God is protecting them”, she offered moral support to those kilometers away.

The electoral importance of Nigerians living in Ghana was brought under the spotlight after some supporters of the ruling party paid for the mounting of electoral billboards in Accra.

The boards were removed later after media attention raised public concerns that Nigerian politics had gone a tad too far into Ghana.

Nigeria’s general election was initially slated for 14 February, but was postponed to 28 March  with authorities fearing Boko Haram could strike.

It was also to provide the Electoral Commission with adequate time to prepare for the huge logistical work involved in managing Africa’s biggest democracy.

Nigerian military and other regional forces also explained they needed to regain territory from militant Islamist group Boko Haram in the north-east.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram had killed some 1,000 people this year alone.

Story by Ghana|Myjoyonline|Edwin Appiah|edwin.appiah@myjoyonline.com

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