Voters have cast their ballot to elect a new president for Nigeria, with more than 175,000 registered polling stations open across the country.
The votes come as the country grapples with a shortage of national banknotes that some people fear will mean turnout will be lower than expected.
To win, the next President needs at least 50% of the total votes and at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds Nigeria‘s states.
Voting was delayed in some states, where election officials did not arrive in time to verify voters’ identities before they could cast their ballots.
Polling stations were due to close at 2.30pm (1.30pm UK time) but Mahmood Yakubu, head of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission. said everyone would have the opportunity to vote “no matter how long it takes”.
Counting and sorting the ballots is expected to take several days, and the official results are expected to be announced in the first half of next week.
The country currently has 18 presidential candidates, but only three of them have emerged as front runners.
Who takes the lead?
Nigeria’s favorites are Bola Ahmed Tinubu, candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress Party and former governor of Lagos, and Atiku Abubakar, the main opposition candidate.
Third favorite is Peter Obi, Labor Party candidate who leads in opinion polls.
But whether supporters of these parties would turn up at polling stations in force – remained unclear due to the long waits at banks across the country in the past week looking for money.
Two of the frontrunners, Bola Ahmed and Atiku Abubakar, are in their 70s and have both been active in Nigerian politics since 1999.
While Peter Obi, 61, the youngest, is the front runner and has risen sharply in the polls in the weeks leading up to Saturday’s vote.
Bola Tinubu has the strong support of the ruling All Progressives Congress party as a key supporter of the incumbent president.
Considered one of Nigeria’s wealthiest businessmen, Atiku Abubakar was also the vice president and presidential candidate of his People’s Democratic Party in 2019.
Everything you need to know as Nigeria votes for a new President
All you need to know about Nigeria elections
The election also produced many first-time voters.
Wuraola Abulatan in Lagos accused the ruling party of failing to live up to its promises made when it came to power in 2015.
“I lost hope for Nigeria, but when Peter Obi started campaigning, that hope came back,” she said.
“I want Nigeria to get better.”
The Currency Crisis
The full impact of Nigeria’s currency crisis on Saturday’s election was not immediately clear, although officials said they got much of the money the government needed to conduct the vote.
New notes were slow to come into circulation in November last year following the decision to redesign Nigeria’s currency, the naira.
Older banknotes were also no longer accepted, leading to shortages in the country where many use cash for their day-to-day needs.
The vote will be closely watched as Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and one of the continent’s largest oil producers.
According to UN estimates, Nigeria will be the third most populous nation in the world after India and China by 2050, along with the United States.
It’s also home to one of the world’s largest youth populations: around 64 million of the 210 million residents are between the ages of 18 and 35, with a median age of just 18.