Nigerians vote in a hotly contested presidential election.
In a closely contested race that was dominated by three political veterans, Nigerians will choose Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.) as their country’s next leader on Saturday.
The election is taking place while Africa’s most populous democracy struggles with a security problem, a slow economy, and growing poverty, and about 90 million people are eligible to vote.
For the first time in modern Nigerian history, a third contender has surfaced to take on the All Progressives Congress (APC) in power and the Peoples Democratic Party in the main opposition (PDP).
With Buhari leaving office after serving two terms, the APC’s Bola Tinubu, 70, a former governor of Lagos and political power broker, declares that “it’s my turn” to run for president.
Atiku Abubakar, a 76-year-old PDP contender and former vice president, is his longtime competitor and is making his sixth run for the presidency.
But, the unexpected entry of Labour Party contender Peter Obi, 61, who is appealing to young people, has made the contest more competitive than it has been since the end of military rule in 1999.
This year, about 10 million new voters registered, the majority of them under the age of 34, constituting a sizable voting bloc if they turn out.
Kabiru Sufi, a public affairs instructor at Kano State College, remarked, “It is not as easy to forecast as before.”
It’s challenging for us to anticipate with certainty what will most likely happen.
In addition to making many Nigerians furious and struggling more than normal in a nation already hard-hit by more than 20% inflation, cash and petrol shortages in the days leading up to the election.
Blessing Asabe, a 37-year-old seller in Lagos, said, “This future government should try and repair all the wrongs that this administration and prior governments have made.”
“For whoever we choose, this election is incredibly crucial because of it.”
The National Assembly and Senate, Nigeria’s two legislative chambers, will also be up for election.
– Regional ties –
To win the president, a candidate must receive the most votes, but they must also receive 25% of the vote in two-thirds of the 36 states in Nigeria.
A runoff between the two frontrunners will occur if there is a tie, an unprecedented result that some analysts believe is possible this time around.
The laws represent a nation that is split almost evenly between a mostly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south, with three major ethnic groups living in each region: the Igbo in the southeast, the Hausa/Fulani in the north, and the Yoruba in the southwest.
Previous presidential elections have frequently been characterized by violence, racial tensions, vote-buying, and altercations between opposing party supporters.
Moreover, voting often occurs along racial and religious lines.
This time, Peter Obi is an Igbo Christian from the southeast, Tinubu is a Muslim southern Yoruba, and Atiku is a Muslim ethnic Fulani.
Due to issues with the delivery of election materials in 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) decided to postpone the election by one week hours before polling opened.
Today, the majority of experts think INEC is more equipped. In order to reduce fraud, biometric voter IDs have been implemented, and results will be sent online.
– Security –
To safeguard the election, over 400,000 police and military personnel will be stationed across the nation.
However there are several security issues.
Jihadists are primarily active in the northeast, bandit militias rule rural areas in the northwest, and gunmen from the separatist movement have attacked INEC offices and police in the southeast.
The polls are open from 7:30 GMT to 13:30 GMT.
Votes are anticipated to be counted within a few days, while INEC has not provided a deadline for results. The official results must be verified within 14 days of the election, according to a 2022 law.
A runoff election must be held within 21 days following the declaration.
Also Read: Live Updates: 2023 National Assembly and Presidential Elections