Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, has commended the ad hoc staff of the Independent and Electoral Commission, for the promptness and professionalism in conducting the elections at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

Kyari and the president’s son Yusuf were among early voters at the villa polling station.

Accreditation and voting commenced at about 9:20am at both Villa polling units 021 and 022 respectively.

Both units witnessed high turnout of voters as those with valid Permanent Voters Card (PVC) trooped in, in their numbers to exercise their franchise.

As early as 7:25am, voters who were not resident in the Presidential Villa but were registered there, were seen trooping into the Villa both on foot and in their vehicles unhindered by the usual security checks at both entrances mounted by the men and officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the army.

Speaking to reporters immediately after casting his vote, Abba Kyari, described the voters as patient and peaceful.

Kyari said “the exercise is very peaceful, very orderly and the people are out to cast their votes.

Former Senator for the Abuja Federal Capital Territory, Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe, expressed satisfaction with the impressive large turnout of voters.

She said she brought to the attention of the INEC officials the need to educate the illiterate voters on how to differentiate between the colours of the card for presidential (red), senatorial (black) and representatives (green).

She was unhappy that voters arrived before the INEC officials and that they took longer time than necessary to set up.

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Gwadabe encouraged those with PVCs but were yet to come out to vote, to do so as the process was smooth.

Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) attended to the enthusiastic voters who queued at six different points for the exercise as directed by the officials.

A few voters who spoke to our correspondent expressed excitement with the interest shown by Nigerians during the elections.

According to Sani Shehu, one of the voters, INEC has made the process easy by differentiating the ballot papers. “We were told that the red ballot is for presidential, green-Senate while the ash is for House of Representatives elections.

Different canopies for accreditation were provided according to names in alphabetical order to ease the process.

Commissioner of Police, FCT command, visited the Villa polling unit along aside the Commandant, Civil Defence Corps with their men to observe the exercise.

At the ECOWAS polling units, the turnout was impressive. Voters were said to have started queuing up as early as 5am.

Senior citizens, pregnant women, people with disability as well as those on essential duties were given priority to vote.

The Founder/President of Women Advancement for Economic and Leadership in Africa (WAELE), Otunba Basirat Nahibi Niasse, a senior citizen, commended the process.

She said the process was smooth and easy.