The impending general election in Nigeria have become so significant to the citizens’ quest for major changes in the current dilapidated situations. The impending general election, unlike the previous ones is set to witness a mass participation, with Nigerians aiming to curb election apathy, air their grievances and also demand socioeconomic developments via the polls. As a result of the destabilization that the country has experienced such as recurrent inflation and bandit attacks, there has been ongoing debates in regards to the best candidate fit to salvage the situation and lead Nigeria through a much-needed socio-economic transformation.
This presidential election is to take place on February 25, 2023 and in the case where a clear winner is not decided, a rerun election is scheduled three weeks after the general election. The election for state governors has also been scheduled to take place on March 11, 2023. The head of the electioneering commission, Professor Mohammed Yakubu has also debunked the rumors running around about a delayed election due to the ravaged case of insecurity in the country. A total of 18 candidates are contesting for the presidential election. However, Labour Party’s Peter Obi, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Abubakar Atiku representing APC and PDP respectively are the realistic candidates in contention, according to opinion polls.
Economy, insecurity and unemployment, major concerns for citizens.
Candidate win is decided by a simple majority, where the winning candidate has to obtain the majority of votes and over a quarter of casted votes in at least two third across all Nigeria’s states. On the main concerns that might impact the election is the case of insecurity. Presently, the country is experiencing a severe kidnap for ransom crisis, as well as a Militant Islamist insurgency in the north. Prior case of a mass shooting at a Catholic Church in Owo and the killing and mass kidnapping of train passengers have raised citizens’ concerns. While President Muhammadu Buhari is saying he has fulfilled his promise of curbing terrorism and insecurity, most citizens are still unsafe due to the rampant attacks.
Another area of concern is the economy. As at 2022, the country’s inflation rate increased consecutively for 10 straight months and just dipped to 21.3 percent per the latest figure released this month. The dire economic situation has left most families struggling to make ends meet. Numerous citizens have again raised concerns over the ravaging situation of unemployment in the country. Many fresh graduates are currently stuck in a system that does not look out for them. According to the country’s Bureau of Statistics, about 33 percent of the country’s population are unemployed. Despite Nigeria’s oil production prowess, four out of every ten Nigerians still live below poverty line with lack of access to basic infrastructure, clean water and an improved sanitation. Candidates have made curbing these problems the centerpiece of their campaign strategies.
Voting of National Assembly members also to be held on February 25.
True, prior elections in Nigeria have witnessed overt cases of election malpractices such as rigging in polls, enacting violence to scare away voters, snatching ballot boxes and stuffing them. However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured that the implementation of advanced technology will help safeguard ballot boxes from being snatched or rigged. Also, the recent naira note change is predicted to force a cash crunch that would make vote buying immensely difficult. Security agencies have also been directed to arrest anyone caught in the act of vote buying. INEC have also pointed to the illegality of voters taking pictures of their ballot papers.
Different from the presidential election, the parliament election (National Assembly) is set to also hold on February 25, where citizens will be voting 469 legislators — 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives to represent their various constituencies. The Permanent Voters Card (PVC) is the essential requirement for voting, as it proves the identity and eligibility of voters. It contains bio-metrical data of each voter for verification. Nigerians in diaspora are however not eligible to vote.
Bimodal Voter Accreditation System enacted to curb election malpractices.
Important to note that this election is set to use a new system regarded as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), a model recently facilitated by the electioneering body to curb election malpractices. This system is more technologically efficient than the card readers used in prior elections. Its capacity to generate dual identification via face recognition and finger prints stands as a major benefit of this recent advancement. This asides, the BVAS directory uploads to INEC’s viewing portal which will be made visible to all citizens. Although surfaced glitches during some state elections have raised concerns, INEC have assured Nigerians that these problems have been fixed.