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Nigeria election 2023: Millions vote in tightest-ever poll today

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The most competitive presidential election in Nigeria since the end of military dictatorship is scheduled to include millions of voters. The ruling APC and the PDP have controlled the continent’s most populous nation since 1999.

Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who is supported by many young people, is a third-party candidate who is mounting a serious challenge this time around.

Muhammadu Buhari, the current president, is resigning after two four-year mandates.

Former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu is running for his All Progressives Congress (APC), while former vice president Atiku Abubakar is running for the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). There are 18 people running for president in all.

A cash shortage brought on by a failed attempt to redesign the currency has overshadowed the run-up to the election, causing widespread mayhem at banks and ATMs as desperate citizens sought access to their money.

The new notes were created to combat both vote-buying and inflation. A member of the House of Representatives was detained on election night with about $500,000 (£419,000) in cash and a list of recipients, according to the police.

Whoever prevails will have to deal with the redesign of the currency, a failing economy, high rates of youth unemployment, and pervasive insecurity that resulted in 10,000 fatalities last year.

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The parliamentary election in the southeast Enugu East district was postponed following the assassination of a senatorial candidate on Wednesday by suspected gunmen from the separatist organization Ipob.

A third of the 87 million eligible voters are under 35, therefore the election has attracted a lot of attention from young people and first-time voters, which could result in a higher voter turnout than the 35% achieved in 2019.

Blessing Ememumodak, a 19-year-old first-time voter in Lagos, told the BBC, “It is my obligation, and I have seen how vital it is to vote.”

After joining the Labour Party in May last year, Mr. Obi, 61, hopes to destabilize Nigeria’s two-party system.

Even though he had previously been a member of the PDP, he is still viewed as a relatively new face and has ardent support from some young people in Nigeria, particularly in the south.

From 2006 to 2014, the affluent businessman presided as governor of the southeasterly Anambra State. His supporters, known as the “OBIdients,” claim that he is the only candidate who is honest, but his detractors contend that supporting Obi is pointless because he is not likely to win.

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The PDP, which controlled Nigeria until 2015, prefers that Nigerians choose Atiku Abubakar, 76, the only significant candidate from the region’s predominantly Muslim north.

He has previously run for president five times, losing each time. He has consistently faced allegations of favoritism and corruption, which he strongly refutes.

He has spent the most of his career in positions of authority, serving as a top official, vice president, and well-known businessman.

The majority of people regard the election as a vote against the APC, which has presided over a time of economic hardship and escalating insecurity.

It is said that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is 70 years old, made Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center, grow during his two terms as governor from 2003 to 2007.

He is regarded as a political godfather in the Southwest, where he has enormous power, but like Mr. Abubakar, he has long been the target of claims of corruption and poor health, both of which he vigorously rejects.

Anybody in line before it closes at 14:30 will be able to cast a ballot; voting is set to start at 08:30 local time (07:30 GMT).

109 senators and 360 representatives are also up for election, with the governors’ election taking place in March.

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The elections will use a brand-new facial recognition and fingerprint scanner.

Notwithstanding concerns about unrest in some areas of the country and the cash deficit that some feared may hamper its preparations, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to hold free and fair elections and has rebuffed discussion of postponing the vote.

The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), a facial and fingerprint technology that is thought to increase transparency by making it more difficult for politicians to cheat the system, will be used for the first time by Inec to conduct national elections.

In the previous two elections, official results were declared three days after voting, but this time around they might be published quicker thanks to BVAS, which also uploads vote results immediately from the polls to the INEC website.

To be crowned victorious, a candidate must receive the most votes and 25% of the ballots cast throughout two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states.

If no one succeeds in doing that, there will be a run-off in 21 days, which is unprecedented in Nigerian history.

souce: BBC

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