ABUJA, April 16 (Reuters) - Nigerians voted on Saturday in a presidential election with President Goodluck Jonathan the clear favourite and former army ruler Muhammadu Buhari the main challenger.
Below are details from around Africa’s most populous nation:
Turnout in the capital was much higher than for parliamentary elections the week before.
“People are coming out massively,” said Ogbu Titus, a 53-year old teacher at the courtyard of a primary school in Lugbe village, where hundreds of people had gathered on the outskirts of the capital, waiting to vote after registering.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark was leading a foreign observer team from the National Democratic Institute.
“Things seem to be quite orderly, materials seem to have been delivered on time... One guy showed me his flashlight. He intends to be there tonight through the collation to watch what goes on.”
Voters registered early in most polling stations in Nigeria’s biggest city and commercial capital.
Dozens queued at a polling station under a spreading tree in Obalende, a raucous market and hangout for motorcycle-taxi riders. Market women, spotting a chance for business, were selling boiled plantain bananas and stew near the queues.
“I have been encouraged by what happened last weekend, so I came out today,” Abubakar Labaran, 38, tailor with wife and two children.
Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola said polling had gone well so far but the biggest test still lay ahead.
“We are reaching the critical end when voting now starts, when vote counting will subsequently take place and that is when we need to remain continuously vigilant and peaceful and law abiding,” he said.
At Otuoke, a quiet village in the oil-producing Niger Delta, voters lined up at Jonathan’s polling station, a tent on the edge of the road in a village of tin-roofed shacks among mangroves and palm trees.
Elei Green, 45, an oil and gas company administrator who flew in from Atlanta to vote.
“You can see it’s not a very rich village. We are very happy that someone from such a humble background can climb to the top. It’s a great example for the youths.”
Casting his vote, Jonathan said he hoped to avoid a second round.
“For economic reasons and to reduce tension, we pray that whoever will win should win at the first ballot,” he said.
Thousands lined the dusty streets of Buhari’s home town in the largely Muslim north as he headed out to vote. His car moved at a snail’s pace through the crowd to chants of “Buhari” and “Allah Akhbar” (God is greatest).
Women cloaked in traditional Muslim dress queued separately from men at the polling station.
“We have come out early because this is the time for the north. We know Buhari can change the lives of our people, change the standard of living,” said Salisu Yahaya, 35, a civil servant.
Buhari urged people to defend their votes.
“The ruling party is so desperate they could do anything and they are trying everything but luckily people are very sensitive this time around and they are determined to make their vote count,” he told Reuters in his residence.
Polling passed off mostly peacefully around Plateau state, in the heart of the volatile “Middle Belt”, with initial logistical problems ironed out in many areas.
“The reports I have received around the state show that the performance is even better than the previous one (parliamentary polls) last Saturday,” Plateau state governor Jonah Jang said.
Aggrieved youths stopped officials distributing materials in one ward in the east of Rivers State, but there was a smooth start in the oil industry hub of Port Harcourt.
Lizzy Femi, a 61-year old retired civil servant, said she was impressed by the turnout.
“This is my first time of voting since 1993 ... This is indeed an improvement,” she said.
Two bomb blasts panicked voters in the far northeastern city of Maiduguri, where disturbances have been blamed on a radical Islamist sect but are also fuelled by politics. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
“There is a heavy security presents all over town patrolling to ensure that people going to vote are safe,” said police spokesman Mai Mamman.
Turnout in Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi states in the southeast appeared higher than last week, but there were complaints of ballot-box snatching and names missing from voter lists in some areas.
“I am not happy that my name is missing. I registered my name as INEC said but I do not know if I can still vote,” said Malachy Ukpo at Achara-Isuochi in Abia.
Reporting by Reuters correspondents across Nigeria