©AfreePress -(Lomé,Febuary 18, 2019)-Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with over 180 million inhabitants, has been focused on the presidential and parliament elections. Nigeria plays an important (economic) role in the region, they are a large contributor to the African Union and ECOWAS. The outcome of the elections will have an impact on the region not only economic but also in terms of security of the region. There are several candidates for Nigeria’s presidency but only two who actually have a shot. The current president Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who is running for a second term and his former Vice President, now opponent, Atiku Abubakar on behalf of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The hot topic of this election is national security, more specifically, the fight against Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. In his previous campaign Buhari promised that during his presidency he would eliminated Boko Haram in Nigeria. Even though territory was gained and, Boko Haram and other extremist groups have been pushed back during Buhari his presidency, these groups are far from being eliminated.
Another national security issue is the growing conflict between herders and farmer in the central part of the country. According to Amnesty International, this conflict has already taken close to 4000 lives. Some Nigerians are therefore now questioning president Buhari’s ability to protect the nation.
Another hot topic during these elections has been Nigeria’s economy. For a long time Nigeria has had one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a growth rate high than 6% each year. In 2016 Nigeria, just like many other African countries, started to see a decline in growth and entering a recession. 44% of Nigerians live below the poverty line of $1.90, surpassing India with the most people living in extreme poverty in a country. There is extreme inequality in Nigeria because, at the same time the richest man of Africa is a Nigerian as well. Both Buhari and Abubakar have solutions for the still largely oil-dependent country, Buhari wants to invest in state driven solutions and public investments, Abubakar seems to think that privatization and private business investments are the solution.
Nigerian popular music artists have tried to play a role in this election. Superstar Wizkid has used his influence to convince young Nigerians to vote for the president they seem suitable for Nigeria’s future. He has denied performing at several campaign rallies missing out on millions of Niara because, he doesn’t want to influence the decision of especially young Nigerians. Another Nigerian music star, producer 2Face, is part of a campaign that fights against election violence. The campaign, VOTE not FIGHT, aims to encourage Nigerian youth to stop accepting money to fight against political opponents but to vote instead. 2face even produced a song for the campaign. These Nigerian music stars use their influence to convince Nigerians not only to stop the political violence but also vote for their preferred candidate.
Nevertheless has this presidential campaign period been marked by election violence. Election violence in Nigeria is nothing new, it has happened in previous presidential elections as well. The election violence this time seems to be worse than previous elections. Several election offices have been set on fire as a result thousands of voting ballots have been lost.
Last Saturday, February the 16th, was supposed to be the day Nigerians would vote. Unfortunately, a few hours before the polls were supposed to open the election commission decided to postpone the election for a week. The reason for the postponing is suggested to be because of a shortage of election material throughout the country. This could be related to the election violence in which several election offices filled with election material caught fire. The new elections will now be held on February the 23rd.