The citizens of Nigeria went to the polls on February 25 in a crucial vote to define a close and unpredictable race for the Presidency, as well as the formation of Parliament. Election day was marked by delays, although there were no serious incidents, the authorities stress.
An “important barometer” for the African continent. Although the counting of the votes is expected to take several days, the citizens of Nigeria have already voted for who will be their next president and for the formation of Parliament.
The polls closed on the afternoon of this Saturday, February 25, after a day that elapsed with delays in some voting centers, but without serious public order incidents.
Throughout the country, some polling stations closed at the scheduled time, 2:30 pm local time, but others had not opened by that time, Reuters agency reporters found.
“I will wait here to cast my vote. If I don’t vote, how will things change?” said Halima Sherif, 23, whose suffrage center in the northern city of Kano had not started operations in the time scheduled for the polls to close.
In Nigeria’s presidential election on Saturday, voters are desperate to elect a leader who can chart a new course after years of dashed hopes. More than 93 million people registered for permanent voting cards — the most ever, the election commission said. https://t.co/CbPzceZ1hN
—The New York Times (@nytimes) February 25, 2023
Among 18 candidates, citizens voted to choose the successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, in power since 2015.
Buhari, a retired army general, resigns after serving the maximum eight-year term allowed by the country’s Constitution to serve in office. However, he ends his term without fulfilling his promise to restore order and security in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and the main oil producer on the continent.
“I am very excited. I have been looking forward to exercising my civil rights. I am looking for a better Nigeria,” said Victoria Adeyemo, a 65-year-old lawyer, as she waited for a polling station to open in Ikoyi, considered the most prosperous neighborhood in Lagos. the nation’s largest city.
Of the applicants who compete to succeed the current president, three have a chance, experts point out. They are the former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, 70 years old and candidate of the ruling party; former vice president Atiku Abubakar, 76 and the main opposition candidate, and Peter Obi, 61, who has become a challenger of traditional politics for the youngest.
Possible “tipping point” for Nigeria
Political analysts describe these elections as “pioneering”; as they could be a crucial turning point for the continent’s most populous country, after years of worsening security and dire economic woes.
Nigeria is experiencing multiple interlocking crises, including Islamic extremism and criminality, affecting the majority of the population.
Many see these elections as a chance to address the country’s many problems, an approach that would prove key to stability in West Africa.
But in recent weeks, an effort to replace nearly all of Nigeria’s bank notes, partly to curb the widespread practice of vote buying, has caused even greater economic disruption and widespread anger among Nigerians.
According to the country’s regulations, to win a presidential candidate must receive the largest number of votes cast at the national level and at least a quarter of the votes in no less than 24 of the 36 states that make up the country.
If neither exceeds these requirements, the two main applicants will compete in a second round. The Magna Carta indicates that this eventual new round must take place within 21 days after the announcement of the result.
For parliamentary voting, candidates for the House of Representatives or the Senate must obtain a simple majority of votes in the constituency or district for which they are running.
A peaceful transition of power could help roll back a wave of instability in West Africa, where neighbors like Mali and Burkina Faso have seen elected governments replaced by military regimes in the past three years.
With Reuters, AP and EFE