About 87 million eligible Nigerians are set to vote on Saturday for a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari in a tightly fought race dominated by three political veterans.
For the first time in Nigeria’s modern history, a third candidate has emerged to challenge the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
With Buhari stepping down after two terms in office in Africa’s most populous democracy, the APC’s Bola Tinubu, 70, a former Lagos governor and political kingmaker, says it’s his turn for the top job.
His close contender is the PDP candidate and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, 76, gunning for his sixth time for the presidency.
The emergence of a surprise third candidate, Labour Party’s Peter Obi appealing to mostly young voters has thrown the race open for the first time since the end of military rule in 1999.
Nearly 10 million new voters registered this year, most of them under 34, representing an important bloc if they come out to vote. Polling stations open at 0730 GMT and close at 1330 GMT.
Cash and fuel shortages in the days before the election have also left many Nigerians annoyed and struggling more than usual in a country already hit by over 20 percent inflation.
Voters will also cast their ballot for Nigeria’s two houses of parliament, the National Assembly and Senate.
To secure victory, a candidate must get the most votes and also win 25 percent in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states. At the moment, the ruling APC occupies 21 out of 36 states.
If no candidate wins, a runoff will take place between the two frontrunners, an unprecedented outcome that some analysts say is a possibility this time around.
The rules reflect a country almost equally split between three main ethnic groups across regions: Yoruba in southwest, Hausa/Fulani in the north and Igbo in the southeast.
The presidential elections have in the past often been marked by violence, ethnic rivalries, vote-buying and clashes between supporters of rival parties.
This time, Tinubu is a southern Yoruba Muslim, Atiku is an ethnic Fulani Muslim from the northeast and Peter Obi is a Christian Igbo from the southeast.
In 2019, hours before polls opened, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the election by a week due to glitches in delivering election materials.
With about 400,000 police and troops deployed around the country to protect the vote, most experts see INEC as being more prepared, having introduced biometric voter IDs to help prevent fraud, and results will be transmitted electronically. If a runoff is declared, the vote has to take place within 3 weeks.
Copyright: News Central TV
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central TV.