Nigeria votes on Saturday 25 Feb. People are optimistic this time, especially youth.
Nigerians are upbeat and optimistic about the 2023 elections.
However, there are five key issues of concerns with high potential to disrupt the election:
- Attacks of non-state actors on security agencies in North West, North East and South East Nigeria
- Attacks by Herder militias on Farming communities in North Central Nigeria
- Attacks of rival political party supporters
- Redesign of the old currency and scarcity of the new currency resulting in frustrations and attacks on banks
- Lingering and biting fuel shortages resulting in higher levels of inflation and high costs of food, fuel and overall cost of living.
There has been considerable excitement by citizens pertaining to the 2023 elections for three key reasons.
For the first time since 1999 Nigeria is having a three-legged race. Historically the two dominant parties- ‘All Progressive Congress’ (APC) and ‘Peoples Democratic Party' (PDP) have always won the elections which have always been judged as not being free and fair resulting in a loss of confidence in the electoral process and governance generally. However, in 2023, the emergence of a third party - ’Labour party’ (LP) and in particular the presidential candidate of the party who is adjudged as having character, competence and capacity to lead the nation has contributed to a very high degree of optimism among voters that for once citizens have a choice and and not restricted to making a choice between the two historical parties.
Drawing from the optimism of the possibility of having a choice that is right for the nation, youth have been inspired to register and vote such that 48million out of the 93.5million registered voters for the 2023 elections are youth. Additionally, out of a total of 9,518,756 valid newly registered voters between June 28, 2021 and July 31, 2022, youth aged between 18 and 34 years of age were 7,286,871, representing 76.56%.
There is renewed confidence in the possibility of having free and fair elections where all votes will count with the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System. This technology is projected to ensure that voting cannot be done twice thus eliminating multiple voting and fraud. Citizens want these elections to address four key specific issues, among others - insecurity in Nigeria, poor economy and heightened debt burden, corruption in governance, and high level of unemployment, social inequality and poverty.
Tearfund through its Joint initiative for Strategic Religious Action (JISRA) - a donor funded project - is intervening through consortium partners to engage around elections preparedness intended to prevent violence through (a) Conversations with strategic religious and community leaders, (b) Sensitization campaigns targeted at citizens to eschew violence, (c) Mapping of possible ‘hotpots’ in various communities where violence is predicted to occur with a view to engaging them and forestalling violence, and (d) Voter education to citizens to ensure that citizens vote correctly and do not have their votes voided.
- For free and fair elections in Nigeria
- Against all forms of violence
- That the election results will be transparent and that the outcome of the elections are accepted by the losing parties.
25 Feb is national election day for Nigeria's president and parliament.
11 March is state election day for state governors and legislatures.