February 25, 2023

Washington watches as Nigerians go the polls to elect president of Africa’s most populous nation and 468 federal lawmakers. There are 18 presidential candidates and 87 million voters

Voting in progress at Presidential election March 28 in Abuja - photo by U.S. Embassy / Idika Onyukwu
Voting in progress at Presidential election March 28 in Abuja - photo by U.S. Embassy / Idika Onyukwu

Nigerians went to the polls on Saturday morning to elect a new president and 468 federal lawmakers. There are 18 candidates from 18 political parties for the presidency. Over 4,000 candidates are standing for elections into the two chambers of the National Assembly.

About 1,100 candidates are competing for 108 out of 109 seats in the senate while 3057 others are contesting for 360 seats in the House of Representatives. Election will not hold in Enugu East Senatorial District until 11 March because of Wednesday’s murder of the candidate of the Labor Party, Oyibo Chukwu.

At least 87 million Nigerians are expected to cast their ballots, according to the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC announced that 93.5 million Nigerians registered to vote in the general election. However, just over 87 million of them picked their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and will be allowed to vote. There are also 1.5 million people who will serve as political parties’ agents.

Voting will take place in 176,846 polling units spread across Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital Abuja. Nigeria has 774 local councils and 8,809 wards.

The president-elect will be sworn into office on May 29 to replace President Muhammadu Buhari who was barred from running again after a two-year term, while the lawmakers who will be elected on Saturday will be inaugurated in June as members of the 10th session of the bi-camera federal legislature.

The presidential candidates and their political parties are Christopher Imumolen (Accord), Hamza Al-Mustapha (AA), Omoyele Sowore (AAC), Dumebi Kachikwu (ADC), Yabani Sani (ADP), Bola Tinubu (APC), Peter Umeadi (APGA), Princess Ojei (APM) and Charles Nnadi (APP). Others are Sunday Adenuga (BP), Peter Obi (LP), Rabi’u Kwankwaso (NNPP), Felix Osakwe (NRM), Atiku Abubakar (PDP), Kola Abiola (PRP), Adebayo Adewole (SDP), Ado Ibrahim Abdulmalik (YPP) and Dan Nwanyanwu (ZLP).

However, many expect that the winner will be Tinubu, Atiku, Obi or Kwankwaso.

In Washington, United States President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday called for a peaceful and fair presidential election in Nigeria this weekend.

In a statement, Biden commended the peace accord signed by the political parties and candidates running in Nigeria’s presidential election on February 25.

He said, “I commend yesterday’s peace accord in Nigeria, signed by the political parties and candidates running in Nigeria’s presidential election on February 25.  By signing this pledge, the parties and candidates have committed to accept the results of the election, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, and to support a peaceful transition of power.
“Elections are a fundamental part of a functioning democracy, and all Nigerians deserve this chance to choose their future — freely and fairly.  While the United States does not support any single candidate or party, we strongly support a peaceful and transparent process that reflects the will of the people of Nigeria.  On election day, I encourage all Nigerians — no matter their religion, region, or ethnicity — to exercise this fundamental freedom and make their voices heard — including young voters, many of whom may be heading to the ballot box for the first time.
“The United States stands with the Nigerian people as they chart a path toward a more democratic, prosperous, and secure future.  I appreciate President Buhari’s firm commitment that the will of the people will be respected.  And in the coming days, I encourage voters to remain peaceful and patient as their ballots are tallied, and urge the political parties and candidates to live up to their pledge.”

The chairman of Nigeria’s electoral commission, Mahmood Yakubu, has pledged a free and fair process.

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