Nigerian Presidential Election: The Stakes are High for Africa’s Largest Democracy

Nigerians are set to head to the polls on Saturday for a fiercely competitive presidential election in Africa’s largest democracy.[0] More than 93 million Nigerians are registered to vote, with more than half below age 34, data from the country's electoral body show.[1] The three main candidates are Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, and businessman Peter Obi of the Labour Party.[2]

Tinubu is a Yoruba Muslim from the southwest and has defied tradition by picking a fellow Muslim, a former governor of northeastern Borno State, as his running mate.[3] Abubakar is a Muslim from the north and is running for the long-established People’s Democratic Party, while Obi, from the southeast, is campaigning as a reformer, promising a clean break with the corruption that has plagued Nigeria for decades.[4]

Given that 40% of the electorate are Nigerian youth under 35, some have dubbed this year a “young people’s election.”, as Obi is highly favored among them.[5]

The stakes are high for this election as the country battles myriad economic and security problems that range from fuel and cash shortages to rising terror attacks, high inflation, and a plummeting local currency.[6] If the massive electoral exercise in Nigeria is perceived to be significantly flawed, or if widespread doubt exists about whether or not the results reflect the will of the people, it could deal a significant blow to confidence in democratic governance elsewhere.[6]

There is a concern that this election will be delayed, similar to how the previous two were cancelled with little warning.[7] However, the electoral commission insists there will be no disruptions.[8]

Ultimately, the outcome of this election could be a decisive moment for the future of Nigeria and will be closely watched by the international community.[7]

0. “High stakes and high risk in Nigeria landmark election” The College of Arts & Sciences, 24 Feb. 2023,

1. “As Nigerians vote for new president, Catholics hope for end to violence against Christians” National Catholic Reporter, 24 Feb. 2023,

2. “#NigeriaElection2023 Live Updates: Presidential Election” Punch Newspapers, 25 Feb. 2023,

3. “What's at stake in Nigeria's high-risk elections” The New Humanitarian, 23 Feb. 2023,

4. “In Nigeria’s election, Peter Obi's rise fueled by youth frustrations” The Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2023,

5. “Nigerians head to the polls to choose a new president — and brace for post-election violence” Catholic News Agency, 24 Feb. 2023,

6. “The Continental Implications of Nigeria’s Elections” Council on Foreign Relations, 23 Feb. 2023,

7. “Nigerian election: What to know about the vote in Africa's largest democracy” NPR, 24 Feb. 2023,

8. “Nigeria is about to hold Africa's largest democratic exercise. Here's what to know about its presidential election” CNN, 22 Feb. 2023,

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