Voters in Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation will go to the polls on February 25 to choose a new president and lawmakers amid growing frustration over unprecedented insecurity, industrial-scale oil theft and rising inflation. President Muhammadu Buhari, who will complete his constitutionally permitted two terms in May, is not on the ballot. Voters will also elect new senators and members of the House of Representatives. The gubernatorial races continue on March 11.
Here’s what you need to know about the elections. WHO RUNS?
A total of 18 candidates are competing for the presidency. But the main contest is between Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labor Party, who is leading in some polls. The lack of reliable polls makes it difficult to predict the winner, but the ruling party has a huge advantage in that it can use the state apparatus to mobilize support.
Tinubu and Atiku have significant power bases in Nigeria, while Obi is relying on frustration over the economy and insecurity to turn voters against the two main parties. WHAT ARE THE MAIN PROBLEMS?
Africa’s top oil producer is a key Western ally in the fight against Islamist insurgents in West Africa. The main problem for many Nigerian voters is the spread of insecurity, from kidnapping-for-ransom in the northwest to a 13-year Islamist insurgency in the northeast, separatist violence in the southeast, and decades-long ethnic tensions, mainly between herders and farmers in the central north.
Double-digit inflation is at its highest in nearly two decades, and Nigerians say life is more difficult than when Buhari took office in 2015. The naira currency plunged to record lows as unprecedented oil theft it hit crude exports last year, and endemic corruption remains a scourge. .
As the economy suffers, hundreds of Nigerians are leaving the country in a brain drain that is straining a weak health system and disrupting services from banking to technology. WHAT DO THE PARTIES OFFER?
There are no clear ideological differences between the two major parties. Competition over dwindling oil revenues, patronage and ethnic rivalries often play a bigger role in Nigerian elections than ideology. Obi, who left the PDP last year and was Atiku’s running mate in 2019, casts himself as a reformer keen to overhaul Nigeria’s political system. But in politics, there is little difference between the leading candidates. Tinubu, Atiku and Obi have made reviving the economy and ending insecurity top priorities, promising better salaries for security forces and more military equipment to defeat insurgents.
Their manifestos say they would remove a fuel subsidy that cost $10 billion last year, but differ on how quickly they would do it. They also promise to reform the foreign exchange market and invest more in education. HOW WILL THE ELECTION WORK?
Some 93.4 million people have registered to vote, three-quarters of whom are between the ages of 18 and 49. The challenge for the parties, however, will be getting the vote. Many younger Nigerians do not associate with the two major party candidates, who are political veterans in their septuagenarians. In 2019, voter turnout was 35%, electoral commission figures showed.
Nigeria has a long history of electoral fraud. This year, however, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is using a Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to identify voters through fingerprints and facial recognition, in the hope that this will curb tampering.
On voting day, the results will be posted outside the polling stations and sent via BVAS to an INEC portal in Abuja. They will be displayed on the portal in real time and will be visible to the public. Official results are expected within five days. The candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner if he has at least a quarter of the votes in two thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital. Otherwise, there will be a second round between the two main candidates within 21 days.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)