The countdown to the Nigeria presidential elections has begun, with less than 24 hours until the polls open. The two front runners are current President Muhammadu Buhari and and the former vice president Atiku Abubakar, though Buhari is primed to win.
There are in fact 73 Nigeria presidential elections candidates but it is thought that the entire contest will boil down to Buhari and Abubakar, and Buhari will win. This is Atiku’s fourth attempt at the position of presidency. He also ran in 2015, 2011 and 2007.
Much has been written about the highly contested elections and tension in Nigeria is high. Over 84 million people have registered to vote, a rise of 25% just four years ago. Almost 25% of registered voters live in Buhari’s homeland in the north-west of the country. The south-west, the next largest region by vote, is home to Buhari and his supporters.
Both contenders for the presidency are in their 70s. Buhari is 76 and Abubakar is 72. This is going to be sixth Nigeria presidential elections since democracy in 1999. And more than anything, the world needs the elections to be free and fair to avoid turmoil, stampedes, as having been seen in the country, and political stability.
This brings us back to who will win. The Economist, a British publication, has their money on Abubakar although most local Nigerian polls are leading to Buhari. What is interesting is that both candidates are Fulani Muslims. Religion and ethnicity often play significant roles in Nigerian politics.
Buhari has a history of selfless service to Nigeria, spanning the last half a century, and has a solid support base. Abubakar, served as his vice president, is also a veteran politician and has been a top civil servant, businessman and philanthropist. Abubakar has come under fire for his wealth and how he gained so much of wealth. Buhari has come under fire for not managing the corruption in Nigeria well enough and there are also rumours of his ill-health.
Buhari does have the support of several other African politicians. Abubakar is suspected of having American support. Abubakar, known for crossing parties on more than one occasion, may not have the support of as many politicians but it is thought he does have the support of a youth that is tired of corruption.
February 16th is the day of the elections. It is unsure when results will be announced and many will be holding their breath, hoping for free and fair elections and a working democracy.