Nigeria elections 2023: What you need to know (2023)

Next month voters in Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, will head to the polls to select their next president amid mounting unhappiness in the country due to worsening insecurity and economic hardship. Will any of the frontrunners, most of whom have been in the political system for decades, be able to turn the country around?

Fromhigh inflationtodeadly attacks by gunmen against innocent civilians, the seven-year rule of outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari has seen Nigeria face various crises.

His supporters say he has done his best and highlight achievements, such as his work on infrastructure projects and attempts to combat violent extremism. But even his own wife, Aisha Buhari, hasapologised to the Nigerian peoplefor falling short of their expectations.

So whoever wins the election will not have an easy job.

When is the election?

It is due to take place on Saturday 25 February 2023. If there is no clear winner, a second round will be held within three weeks. There will also be elections for the country's powerful state governors on Saturday 11 March.

The head of the election commission hasdismissed suggestionsthat the vote could be delayed because of insecurity.

Who is running for president?

A total of 18 candidates are campaigning for the top job, but only three have a realistic chance of winning, according to opinion polls.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu,70, is standing for the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party. Known as a political godfather in the south-west region, he wields a huge amount of influence but has been dogged by allegations of corruption over the years and poor health, both of which he denies. Some say his campaign slogan Emi Lokan, which means "it's my turn [to be president]" in the Yoruba language,shows a sense of entitlement.

Atiku Abubakar,76, is running on behalf of the main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP). He has run for the presidency five times before - all of which he has lost. Most of his career has been in the corridors of power, having worked as a top civil servant, vice-president under Olusegun Obasanjo and a prominent businessman. Just like Mr Tinubu, he has been accused of corruption and cronyism, which he denies.

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Peter Obi, 61, is hoping to break up the two-party system which has dominated Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999 and is running for the little known Labour Party. Although he was in the PDP until last year, he is seen as a relatively fresh face and enjoys fervent support on social media and amongst Nigeria's youth. The wealthy businessman served as governor of the south-eastern Anambra State from 2006 to 2014. His backers, known as the "OBIdients" say he is the only candidate with integrity, but his critics argue that a vote for Obi is wasted as he is unlikely to win

Who is likely to win?

Convention suggests a candidate from one of the two main parties will win - Mr Atiku or Mr Tinubu. But Mr Obi's supporters are hoping he can spring a surprise if they can mobilise the large youth vote to back him.

How does the election work?

In order to win, a candidate has to obtain the highest number of votes nationwide, and more than a quarter of ballots cast in at least two-thirds of Nigeria's states.

If none of the candidates manage this, there will be a second round, or a run-off, within 21 days between the top two candidates.

What are the main issues?

Reducing insecurity is one of the key concerns of voters, in a country which is currently experiencing a kidnapping-for-ransom crisis and battling a militant Islamist insurgency in parts of the north.

Two of the most shocking cases last year were a mass shootingat a Catholic Church in Owoandthe storming by gunmen of a passenger trainin which dozens of people were killed or kidnapped.

President Buhari says he has fulfilled his promise to "frontally and courageously tackle terrorism", but many Nigerians feel the country is still not safe.

The economy is another area of concern. In 2022 inflation rose for 10 months in a row, just dipping to 21.3% according to the latest figures released this month. This rising cost of living has left many families struggling to make ends meet, with local media describing the situation as"dire".

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Unemployment is also a major problem,leaving many graduates fearful that they may not find workeven after years of university study. Latest figures from the country'sNational Bureau of Statisticsshow that 33% of the population is unemployed - jumping to 42.5% for younger adults.

Despite being a major oil producer, four out of 10 Nigerians live below the poverty line and "lack education and access to basic infrastructure, such as electricity, safe drinking water, and improved sanitation,"according to the World Bank.

Many of the candidateshave put these issues at the centre of their campaigns.

But these problems have been mounting for several years, leaving some Nigerians sceptical about whether whoever wins the election will actually be able to fix them. Despite the large number of registered voters -93.5 million- concerns persist about apathy and how many people will actuallyshow up on the day to cast their ballot.

With almost 40% of registered voters under 34, the vote has been called the"election of young people"by elections chief Mahmood Yakubu.

Will the vote be free and fair?

In previous elections in Nigeria there have been credible reports of politicians rigging the polls, by either causing violence to scare away voters or snatching ballot boxes and stuffing them.

But the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) says the use of new technology will help ensure the ballot is secure and is not marred by fraud or rigging.

There have also been cases of politicians paying poor voters to back them, even at polling stations.

But a recent change of the naira notes has forced acash crunchthat will make vote-buying difficult, and security agents also arrest suspects who either give or receive money.

Inec has also said it is illegal for voters to take phones into the polling booths and take pictures of their ballot papers, as this proof is usually demanded by the vote buyers.

Some Inec officeshave been attackedin the run-up to the vote. Last November the election body held an emergency meeting over the attacks on its buildings, which local media described as a"disturbing trend".

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There have also been complaints about suspicious voter registration. Last year digital sleuths uncovered voter cards on the digital electoral register that appeared to have pictures of children on them. The legal age to vote in Nigeria is 18.

Some others on the preliminary list seemed to have registered more than once, by changing their facial expression, clothes or the way they were sitting.

At the time of the discoveries, Inec said it welcomed the help of Nigerians to clean up the register.

On 11 January,Inec released a new register, from which it said 53,264 ineligible voters had been removed. It also said that underage voters and vote buyers would be prosecuted.

What other elections are being held?

As well as the presidential vote, the public will also be choosing their representatives for parliament - the National Assembly.

There are 469 legislators made up of 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives.

Two weeks later on 11 March there will also be elections to choose governors for 28 out of Nigeria's 36 states.

What do you need to vote?

In order to vote, you need to have a valid Permanent Voter's Card (PVC), which essentially shows that you are registered to vote and proves the identity of the voter.

The PVC contains biometrical data of the voter, used as further verification on election day.This data is stored in the card.

However, there is limited time, as the deadline for getting a PVC is 29 January.

To cast your ballot, you need to arrive at your polling station between the hours of 08:00 and 14:00 with your PVC. As long as you're in the queue to vote by 14:00, you will be allowed to cast your ballot, Inec says.

Nigerians living in the diaspora are not allowed to vote abroad.

What is BVAS?

This election is different to previous ones because a new system is being used - the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), which is a deviceintroduced by Inec in 2021aimed at stopping election fraud.

The BVAS is essentially a small rectangular box with a screen that is more technologically advanced than the Smart Card Readers used in the past.

The key benefit of the BVAS is that it has the capacity to perform dual identification of voters on election day through their fingerprints and facial recognition. This should stop people without valid PVCs from voting, as well as those who are ineligible to vote attempting to do so.

Another aspect of the BVAS is that it uploads vote results directly to the Inec results viewing portal for all to see, which in theory means results cannot be tampered with.

There have been concerns about the BVAS afterit experienced glitches in state-wideelections in 2021 and 2022, but Inec insists these problems have been resolved.

When will we get the results?

In the last two presidential elections the winner has been known on the third day after voting.

But votes will be counted as soon as voting ends on Saturday 25 February. Those who stay behind at their polling station will have the result announced to them, but it is a long process before all the results work their way up to Abuja from the tens of thousands of polling units across the country.

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BVAS might speed up the process this year, but Inec-appointed officials will still have to travel to Abuja from the 36 states with hard copies to be read aloud.

Only then will the Inec chairman announce a winner - or that a second round is needed.

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What do you need to win an election? ›

The number of electors each state gets is equal to its total number of Senators and Representatives in Congress. A total of 538 electors form the Electoral College. Each elector casts one vote following the general election. The candidate who gets 270 votes or more wins.

What type of voting system is used in Nigeria? ›

Nigeria has a multi-party system, with two or three strong parties and a third party that is electorally successful.

What do you know about the election? ›

An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office.

How to win presidential election in Nigeria? ›

Electoral system

The President of Nigeria is elected using a modified two-round system. To be elected in the first round, a candidate must receive a plurality of the vote and over 25% of the vote in at least 24 of the 36 states.

Why do we need 5 points in election? ›

In an election the voters make many choices: They can choose who will make laws for them. They can choose who will form the government and take major decisions. They can choose the party whose policies will guide the government and law making.

What are the 3 types of voting? ›

There are many variations in electoral systems, with the most common systems being first-past-the-post voting, block voting, the two-round (runoff) system, proportional representation and ranked voting.

At what age can you be voted for in Nigeria? ›

Section 117 (2) of the 1999 Constitution provides that: “Every citizen of Nigeria, who has attained the age of eighteen years residing in Nigeria at the time of the registration of voters for purposes of election to any legislative house, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for that election.” Also, the ...

What are the 4 types of political parties in Nigeria? ›

Current parties
  • Parties represented in the National Assembly.
  • Other parties represented in state assemblies.
  • Extraparliamentary parties.
  • Unregistered parties.

What is the main purpose of election? ›

The mechanism by which people can choose their representatives at regular intervals and change them whenever they want to is called an election. They can choose who will make laws for them. They can choose who will form the government and take major decisions.

Why is election important? ›

Elections provide an important opportunity to advance democratization and encourage political liberalization. For an election to be free and fair, certain civil liberties, such as the freedoms of speech, association and assembly, are required.

Why is it important for citizens to vote? ›

By voting, citizens are participating in the democratic process. Citizens vote for leaders to represent them and their ideas, and the leaders support the citizens' interests. There are two special rights only for U.S. citizens: voting in federal elections and running for federal office.

What are the 4 requirements to be President in Nigeria? ›

They are a citizen of Nigeria by birth; They have attained the age of 35 years; They are a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; They have been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

What are the 4 requirements to be President? ›

The Constitution lists only three qualifications for the Presidency — the President must be at least 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen, and must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

What are the three factors that make a person more likely to vote? ›

The three cleavage-based voting factors focused on in research are class, gender and religion. Firstly, religion is often a factor which influences one's party choice.

What is our system of election? ›

This method is called the First Past the Post (FPTP) system. In the electoral race, the candidate who is ahead of others, who crosses the winning post first of all, is the winner. This method is also called the Plurality System. This is the method of election prescribed by the Constitution.

What is election paragraph? ›

An election is a way people can choose their candidate or their preferences in a representative democracy or other form of government.

What does 50 plus 1 mean? ›

However, the "50+1 rule" requires the parent club to own at least 50% plus one additional share of the football company, ensuring that the club's members still hold a majority of voting rights.

What are the 5 methods of voting? ›

Voting methods
  • Paper-based methods.
  • Machine voting.
  • Online voting.
  • Postal voting.
  • Open ballot.
  • Other methods.
  • In person.

What countries use majority vote? ›

Majoritarian system are much more common outside Europe, particularly in the countries of the former British Empire, like Australia (IRV), Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, India, Pakistan and the United States (FPTP/SMP).

How to become Nigerian citizen? ›

Individuals born outside of Nigeria whose parents or grandparents were or are citizens of Nigeria are eligible to apply for citizenship of Nigeria by birth.
The ways in which citizenship can be acquired in Nigeria
  1. citizenship by birth;
  2. citizenship by registration; and.
  3. citizenship by naturalisation.

Who has the right to vote in Nigeria? ›

Under the Nigerian constitution of 1979, voting rights, or the right to register as a voter, were extended to all citizens of Nigeria who resided in Nigeria at the time of voter registration.

How to become a governor in Nigeria? ›

A governor must:
  1. be a natural-born citizen of Lagos State.
  2. be at least thirty-five years old;
  3. be a member of a register political party and must be sponsored by that political party.
  4. Must possess at least, the West Africa School Certificate or its equivalent.

What was the first name of Nigeria? ›

Thus, before the name Nigeria was given by Flora, the entire land under its administration was known as the Royal Niger protectorate.

Who named Nigeria? ›

Like so many modern African states, Nigeria is the creation of European imperialism. Its very name – after the great Niger River, the country's dominating physical feature – was suggested in the 1890s by British journalist Flora Shaw, who later became the wife of colonial governor Frederick Lugard.

Which political party is bigger in world? ›

Parties with over 50 million members
1Bharatiya Janata Party Indian People's PartyBJP
2Chinese Communist PartyCCP CPC

What is the process of election? ›

State Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) Elections

Members of State Legislative Assembly, are elected directly by voting, from a set of candidates who stands in their respective constituencies. Every adult citizen of India can vote only in their constituency.

What is free and fair election in Nigeria? ›

A free and fair election involves political freedoms and fair processes leading up to the vote, a fair count of eligible voters who cast a ballot (including such aspects as electoral fraud or voter suppression), and acceptance of election results by all parties.

Why we need free and fair election in Nigeria? ›

There are seven reasons for promoting free and fair elections: Install legitimate governments – choice of the majority of the voters. Promote stability and peaceful co-existence – no need to challenge their own choice. Bring about political development and growth – they are looking at continuity in office.

Is voting a right or responsibility? ›

In the U.S., no one is required by law to vote in any local, state, or presidential election. According to the U.S. Constitution, voting is a right.

What are the 3 types of democracy? ›

Different types of democracies
  • Direct democracy.
  • Representative democracy.
  • Constitutional democracy.
  • Monitory democracy.

Who has the right to vote? ›

Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election.

Does every person have the right to vote? ›

Article 25 of the Covenant recognizes and protects the right of every citizen to take part in the conduct of public affairs, the right to vote and to be elected and the right to have access to public service.

What percentage do you need to win election? ›

270. In order to become president, a candidate must win more than half of the votes in the Electoral College. When does the Electoral College meet? The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December following the presidential election.

How do party winners win the election? ›

Party-list representatives are indirectly elected via a party-list election wherein the voter votes for the party and not for the party's nominees (closed list); the votes are then arranged in descending order, with the parties that won at least 2% of the national vote given one seat, with additional seats determined ...

How many seats does a political party need to win to form a government? ›

To form government and pass bills a parliamentary majority (47 of the 93 members) is needed. This is called a majority government. The political party that has been elected with the majority of members in the Legislative Assembly (or Lower House) forms Government.

How many votes are needed to win an electorate? ›

To be elected, a candidate must have an absolute majority of votes (more than 50% of the total votes). In the example below using 100 votes, the absolute majority is 51 or more.

Can a President win by 1 vote? ›

Use It. In 1800 – Thomas Jefferson was elected President by one vote in the House of Representatives after a tie in the Electoral College. In 1824 – Andrew Jackson won the presidential popular vote but lost by one vote in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams after an Electoral College dead-lock.

Who actually chooses the President? ›

Established in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the Electoral College is the formal body which elects the President and Vice President of the United States.

How many times can you lose the presidential election? ›

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

Do parties get paid for votes? ›

No payments are made to a party or a candidate while: the party or candidate has an outstanding declaration of political donations and electoral expenditure.

Do 3rd parties rarely win? ›

Although third- party candidates rarely actually win elections, they can have an effect on them. If they do well, then they are often accused of having a spoiler effect. Sometimes, they have won votes in the electoral college, as in the 1832 Presidential election.

What happens if no political party wins? ›

A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures primarily under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no single political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an absolute majority of legislators (commonly known as members or seats) in a parliament or other ...

Can you still be Prime Minister if you lose your seat? ›

A person can only be the Prime Minister or a minister if they are a member of parliament. So, if the Prime Minister or a minister lost their seat in an election they would no longer be a member of parliament. The Prime Minister is the leader of the government and is chosen by a vote of the members of the government.

What happens if you lose your seat in parliament? ›

Upon losing their seat, departing members move out of their office at Parliament House and return to everyday life. Some departing members chose to return to jobs they held before being elected to Parliament, while others may start a new career.

What happens if I vote independent? ›

An independent can be elected to either the Senate or the House of Representatives. They represent an electorate , or state or territory in the same way as all members of parliament do. As well as taking part in debate on government bills presented to the Parliament, an independent can introduce their own bill.

What are the 4 voting methods? ›

  • 3.1 Repeated balloting.
  • 3.2 Preferential voting.
  • 3.3 Cumulative voting.
  • 3.4 Runoffs.


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