Everything you need to know as Africa’s most populous nation votes for a new president

There are 18 presidential candidates running in this year’s elections in Nigeria – 17 men and one woman. Only three of them have a realistic chance of winning.

Who is in the running for the lead?

The two favorites are All Progressives Congress party candidate and former Lagos governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu and opposition lead candidate Atiku Abubakar – a former vice president representing the People’s Democratic Party.

The wild card is a third candidate who has captured the hearts and minds of young Nigerians – Peter Obi of the lesser known Labor Party, who has been a leader in opinion polls.

Incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari is stepping down after two four-year terms.

How does the election work?

There are more than 175,000 registered polling stations across the country staffed by 1.3 million polling officials.

NigeriaThe next president of Nigeria must win at least 50% of the total votes and at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s states, that is 24 out of 36.

If the first ballot doesn’t produce a clear winner, we could see an unprecedented runoff.

Can teenagers choose the winner?

Nigerians aged 18-35 account for 39.65% of the 93.4 million registered voters and three quarters of all new voters.

While Mr Tinubu’s hold on grassroots politicians across the country could likely guarantee him the state majority, the mass youth support for Mr Obi cannot be ignored. .

At 61, he is the youngest candidate by a decade and is running on an anti-corruption platform that also promises to tackle Nigeria’s security crisis head-on.

His reach is unlikely to be wide enough to secure a win, but he could split the popular vote enough to result in a runoff for the first time in the country’s political history.

When do we get a result?

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has launched a new digital voter accreditation system that uses biometrics to verify voters and upload results.

The final ballots at each polling station will be both manually transmitted by officials to a sorting center (the process permitted by law) and uploaded to a web portal that will be accessible to registered members of the public.

It usually takes three to five days for the election results to be finalized and announced.

If no candidate meets the requirements for victory, a runoff between the two frontrunners takes place within 21 days.

What issues do voters care about?

Nigeria’s economy has taken a hit during the past eight years of incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration.

Inflation has more than doubled, economic growth has slowed to 1.1% annually and oil production has almost halved.

Fuel adulteration has given way to scarcity, with gasoline and diesel lines marking many gas stations in major cities.

Food prices are rising as harvests of staples like rice were severely impacted by devastating floods late last year.

To make matters worse, a cash shortage is crippling the nation.

A naira redesign policy introduced by President Buhari to combat illicit cash flows and vote-buying has created a currency deficit that prevents people from withdrawing funds from their bank accounts.

In this cash-based economy, life falters. Nigerians cannot use public transport to get to work, buy groceries at the market without paying mobile money fees, or give cash to relatives who do not have digital skills or are connected to transfer services.

Frustration builds and tensions urge people to the polling stations in hopes of change, but also fuel disillusionment with the political elite.

In Lagos alone – the state with the most registrations – around 7.1 million voters are registered.

Lagos resident Jumai Olabode says: “I must vote, it is necessary and I urge all Nigerians to actually vote, it is our civic duty. Not for you, but for generations to come.”

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