Nigeria, officially known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a country situated in the West Africa region of the African continent, with diverse languages of about 500 and religious beliefs with Christianity and Islam as the dominant religious practices.
It is the most populous country in Africa with a population of about 212 million people. Nigeria is the fifth largest democracy and is set to become the second largest after the US by 2025, which will be going to the polls.
The country has six geopolitical zones which were created by the military regime of President Ibrahim Babangida.
These geopolitical zones include Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, South-South, Southwest, and North Central. The presidential elections of the country depend largely on these zones.
The President of Nigeria is elected using the modified two-round system. For a candidate to be elected in the first-round ballot system he/she must receive a majority of the vote and win over 25% of the vote in at least 24 out of the 36 states.
The country has a multi-ethnic and culturally diverse federation of 36 autonomous states and the Federal capital.
The current political landscape is dominated by the incumbent party, the All-Progressive Congress (APC) which controls the executive arm of government and holds majority seats in the house of representatives and the senate.
The election is set to take place on the 25 of February 2023 when a new President will be elected to replace President Muhammadu Buhari.
Several factors have driven people’s attention to the election. The attention of international observers and stakeholders has been set on the 4 front runners.
They include Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former Governor of Lagos under the ticket of All Progressive Congress (APC), Peter Obi, a former Governor of Anambra under the ticket of the Labour Party (LP), Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of the country under the ticket of People Democratic Party (PDP), and Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Governor of Kano under the ticket of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
What makes it more interesting is the fact that the country over the years after the military rule has been ruled by two parties which include the PDP and the APC.
This year’s election which seems to have taken a different perspective presents a highly competitive race for the 4 major parties. There has still not been a clear prediction of who among the 4 candidates will win on the first ballot.
Even though several polls conducted by independent organizations such as ANAP/NOI, MIT survey, Bloomberg, and other has put the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi ahead of the other leading candidates there is still no clear predictions as to who will win on the first ballot.
The election is largely based on issues such as insecurity, unemployment, unity, education, power production, and many others. For a candidate to win the election, he must be able to convince the electorates of how he can solve these issues.
The economy of Nigeria has been in a struggle as the incumbent government will be leaving behind a debt of about N77 trillion. The insurgence of unemployment issues and a high rise in poverty among people.
The best candidate will have to influence the people on how they will solve these issues, and this will largely affect the results of the elections between these 4 leading candidates.
A demand for change, the ruling of the current government has been described by many Nigerians as having been the worse they have seen so far is also another factor to watch out for.
The emergence of the Labour Party Candidate, Peter Obi who has been described by many as a “political dinosaur” is a result of the demand for change in the status quo.
His followers known as “the obedient” hold on to the fact that the need for a change in the political space is necessary as he presents a fresh party and seems young among the rest.
The issue of insecurity is set to largely influence the elections. The country has been faced with several insecurity issues due to some activities of terrorist groups and banditry.
The Boko haram group has caused harm to people in the country and especially in the Northern part. The need to fight these groups is an important factor for many voters. One of the main reasons why President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015.
Due to the diverse nature of the country, the various geopolitical zones present a different views on political involvement in the politics of Nigeria.
This has called for the usual rotational nature of which political offices are been taken in the country. The Northern part of the country has been a leading political force in the Nigerian political space.
This has generated the interest of certain parts of the country demanding the President this time round. Also, religious and tribal resentments have been brought into play in this year’s political affairs in the country.
High interest in youth participation
The country is witnessing the highest-ever youth interest in the 2023 election & has called for several pieces of attention. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said, about 76.5% of the total voters are youths.
A preliminary report released by the NexTier SPD shows that, after a rigorous clean-up of the voter registration system using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), 18-34 will account for about 9,518,188 newly registered voters.
The enthusiasm of these youths on social media towards the election is set to change the dynamics of Nigerian politics after February 25.
Credibility of the election
The independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission has long been contested due to various factors in the just-ended months. The burning of certain voter cards and issues regarding multiple registrations of voters has been questioned.
Even though a significant number of people have expressed hope in the electoral process due to the new electoral act and the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). All these factors are set to change the nature of the elections.
*The writer is a Fellow at The Diplomatic Insight, published by the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies
*The views presented by the author do not reflect the position of The Diplomatic Insight. Nor does The Diplomatic Insight bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the information cited.