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Nigeria Presidential Elections 2023

Michael Antonorsi


April 1, 2023

Nigeria is having its presidential elections on February 25th. For the first time in Nigeria’s democratic history there are three presidential candidates, raising the possibility of runoff elections. To win the election a candidate must have the most votes and at least a quarter of the ballots cast in two-thirds of Nigeria’s states. If no candidate achieves this, a runoff election will be held within 21 days to elect the new president.

According to INEC voter participation hovers around 30-35%, ranking it as a country with one of the lowest turnout ratios even compared to other West African nations. There have been over 10 million new registered voters for this election cycle where an estimated 84% are below the age of 34. The deadline for voter registration was February 5th. 

Nigeria’s electoral commission has introduced new measures to increase election security. It has introduced biometric verification to validate voter identity as well as prohibiting cell phones inside the ballot box. Photographing ballots is often used as proof by people who have sold their ballots and wish to collect money. Voters still have concerns regarding personal safety at polling stations. Instigators sometimes cause violence to scare away voters at polling stations with little support for their preferred candidate.

Nigerians are voting on acute issues that have gotten worse during the outgoing president’s tenure. The issues at the top of the list for most voters is security, inflation, and unemployment. Security in the country for many Nigerians is of paramount importance as incidents of kidnapping for ransom has skyrocketed and Islamist extremists reassert their presence in parts of the North. Security must be restored in Nigeria if it wishes to stabilise its economy and grow sustainably. Inflation has risen partly due to the devaluation of Naira, increasing the cost of living, and exacerbating poverty across the country. Unemployment is running around 33% and 42% for younger adults, median age in Nigeria is 17.

Of the three candidates, one of the two candidates from the established political parties APC and PDP are expected to win. These parties have ruled since 1999. This is the first election with three candidates, one being from outside the political establishment and seen by his supporters as necessary change from customary politics. Whichever president wins the election will have an incredible task of tackling Nigeria’s social and economic woes.

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