Voters, observers hopeful as Nigeria presidential election begins | Election Information
Elections for the Nigerian presidency and each homes of the federal parliament are being held throughout the nation’s 36 states, in what is about to be the sixth successive civilian-to-civilian transition of energy since a return to democracy in 1999.
Eighteen candidates are jostling to succeed Muhammadu Buhari, who steps down as president in Might, having served out two four-year phrases. However solely 4 are thought of frontrunners: Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Individuals’s Democratic Get together, Peter Obi of the Labor Get together, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Individuals’s Get together (NNPP).
The polls open at 07:30 GMT and are anticipated to shut at 13:30 GMT.
“Saturday would be the continent’s largest democratic train and one of many largest on this planet,” mentioned Stacey Abrams, co-leader of the Nationwide Democratic Institute and Worldwide Republican Institute election mission to Nigeria.
“What occurs this weekend may have wide-ranging impacts throughout the globe,” Abrams, a former US Congressional minority chief, instructed Al Jazeera on Friday.
Key points at stake embody the economic system, which has suffered two recessions in 4 years, and safety.
Forward of Saturday’s vote, money and gasoline shortages have been a trending matter nationwide. Insecurity – which the outgoing president had promised to deal with in his election campaigns – stays a critical challenge as a number of armed teams proceed crusades of terror throughout at the least 4 of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones.
Greater than a 3rd of the full eligible voters in Nigeria – the place the median age is eighteen – are youths and their voices are anticipated to make a distinction after years of low turnout.
In Onitsha, the business hub of the nation’s southeast and birthplace of candidate Peter Obi, Ginikachukwu Okafor mentioned he was excited to vote in an election that, for him, ought to kick-start a brand new period for Nigeria.
“Our nation, Nigeria, is gorgeous however our leaders do not know the best way to lead,” the 33-year-old smartphone vendor instructed Al Jazeera within the metropolis’s market, one of many largest in West Africa.
“If Nigeria was good, our brothers and sisters will not be going to different nations to hold medication. It isn’t alleged to be so. Now we have to return out in numbers … to vote for our brother Peter Obi.”
There have been requires stakeholders within the electoral course of to permit for a easy and clear election, amid issues about voter suppression, inducement and intimidation.
A nationwide peace accord was signed by all of the presidential candidates and political get together chairpersons. Organized by the Nationwide Peace Committee and the Kukah Management Centre, an Abuja-based assume tank, the peace accord signing ceremony was attended by a number of former African leaders in addition to diplomats.
US President Joe Biden applauded the initiative and referred to as for transparency within the electoral course of, saying, “All Nigerians deserve this opportunity to decide on their future — freely and pretty.”
Hours after the signing, Oyibo Chukwu, a senate candidate within the southeastern state of Enugu was killed when his convoy was attacked.
Abrams, of the NDI/IRI mission, was current on the peace accord ceremony. She urged all electoral stakeholders to stick to their pledge “for a protected and peaceable election”. She additionally referred to as for an investigation into “the assassination” of Chukwu, saying “violence has no place in a democracy”.
Including to the stress, police caught a Nigerian legislator in a battleground state with nearly $500,000 in money and a distribution record of namesthe Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC) mentioned.
“Vote shopping for stays a serious risk to our democracy,” Mahmood Yakubu, the pinnacle of Nigeria’s election fee, instructed reporters on Thursday.
Pictures of Nigerian army personnel arriving in main cities forward of the vote have appeared on social media. The army presence has prompted reward from some voters who count on the troopers to forestall voter intimidation and different types of electoral malpractice.
However human rights organizations have additionally expressed issues in regards to the army’s presence on the streets.
“The 2023 normal elections are important to entrench the proper to vote and encourage political participation amongst residents which is able to assist strengthen Nigeria’s democracy,” Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, instructed Al Jazeera.
“There must be a robust sense popping out of the elections that the method is credible and protected with a purpose to maintain the curiosity of residents who’ve gotten concerned and encourage those that aren’t, to change into concerned in democratic processes,” she mentioned. .