Nigeria Heads to the Polls for Historic Presidential Race
Nigerians are heading to the polls this Saturday in the most closely contested presidential race in recent history. Eighteen candidates are in the running for the country’s highest office, but three are leading the race for the popular vote: the ruling party’s Bola Tinubu, the main opposition leader and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, and a relative outsider from the Labor Party, Peter Obi.
More than 93 million Nigerians are registered to vote, but only 87 million are holders of a permanent voter card (PVC), a main requirement to cast a ballot. A run-off – for the first time ever – is a possibility if no one candidate gets at least 25% of the vote in at least 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
This upcoming weekend’s Nigerian general elections are of great importance. Nigerians view this as an opportunity to adjust their strategy and explore new methods to tackle the security issues, inefficiency, and financial distress that have caused nine out of ten Nigerians to think that their nation is going in an unacceptable direction.
Tinubu, 70, a Yoruba Muslim from the southwest, has defied tradition by picking a fellow Muslim, a former governor of northeastern Borno State, as his running mate. The candidate of the PDP, Abubakar, 76, is also a Muslim. Moreover, he is a northern Fulani like the current president, Buhari, whose eight years in office have seen a deepening of sectarian tensions, especially between settled farmers and cattle migrating pastoralists.
Peter Obi, 61, is a two-time former governor of Anambra State who has managed to win the youths over to his side with his ‘consumption to production’ rhetoric and promise to “take back Nigeria”. According to a predictive poll conducted by Stears, Obi is likely to be the frontrunner if there is a high voter turnout, surpassing the two primary opponents.
Adding an extra layer of unpredictability to Election Day is an acute deficiency of money which has further weakened Nigeria's economy over the past few weeks. The government's sudden decision to take out old bank notes and put in new ones has caused a great shortage, resulting in long lines at ATMs and banks and having a negative impact on small businesses.
Currently at 220 million, the population of Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing in the world and is expected to double by 2050.
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