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Nigeria braces for landmark February Elections

17.01.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Former American president Franklin D. Roosevelt once said ‘’the ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country’ ’This logical statement clearly defines the position of voters in a nation. Nigeria is one of the African countries that is preparing for presidential and legislative elections in February and March respectively.

The upcoming presidential race would determine who occupies the presidential villa in Abuja. Presidential campaigns that began months ago would soon culminate as various candidates continue to woo potential voters.

Presidential aspirants

Dating back to August last year, the independent Electoral Commission INEC announced that a total of 91 candidates were vying for the post of president.  Though many of such candidates remain in the presidential list, it remains a tight fight between Front runner of the All Progressive Congress (APC) party Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, number candidate of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). (N.B; the PDP was in control of power in Nigeria until 2015 when then leader Goodluck Jonathan lost to incumbent Muhammadu Buhari).

Both presidential aspirants have made vivid promises to their supports

Independent Electoral Commission (INEC)

Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) says all is set as nationals prepare to cast their ballots on February 16, 2019, in a race that seeks to replace outgoing president Muhammadou Buhari. INEC, under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has revealed that about 84 million Nigerians have registered for the upcoming historic elections. As of December 22, 2018, the INEC noted that it was ready to lead the nation to the polls, adding that it had printed the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) newly registered voters between the year 2017 and 2018.   However, INEC earlier this month disclosed that access to some 24 registration centres in Yobe State remain remains problematic due to security challenges.   The INEC also ruled out electronic voting, citing time factor.

Challenges

Even though the anxiety is high among prospective voters, many challenges await the victor of the pending February 16 polls. Among the many challenges are the following:

  • Insecurity: If there is any problem Nigeria has faced all these years, it is that of insecurity. The activities of terrorist groups like Boko Haram have deprived Nigerians of freedom. Citizens live in fear, bomb attacks, and rampant abduction of school girls (Chibok/Dapchi abductions). In June 2018, Amnesty International revealed that some 1,814 people died in 2018 alone due to Boko Haram Insurgency.

  • Revamping the Economy: Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation over the years has also been labelled one of the fastest growing economies. However, since the upsurge in the activities of terrorist especially on oil pipeline by the Niger Delta Avengers, intense farmer herder’s clashes, the economy of the country drastically dwindled. The predictable economic growth as asserted by the World Bank in October stood at 1.9% in April from 2.1% in 2018.
  • Unemployment: Youth unemployment remains a major problem in Nigeria. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the total unemployment rate increased from 18.8% in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.1% in the third quarter of 2018. Youth employment in the formal sector is something to beacon with. Notwithstanding, most front-runners have vowed to tackle youth unemployment.
  • Corruption: If there is one thing that has caused the stagnation of African economies, it is corruption. The oil sector remains the most corrupt. Massive embezzlement by top government officials has stifled business and development.

Given the above challenges, the new leader who images after the February 16 elections has a daunting task of finding lasting solutions to the many problems faced by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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