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Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election: 10 components that would have an effect on the result

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As Nigerians inch nearer to the February 2023 presidential election, the seventh for the reason that present wave of liberal democracy formally began in 1999, there are not less than 10 key points which might be prone to drive and decide the result. Political scientist, Jideofor Adibe, explores all of them.

1. Ethnicity and regionalism

4 of the 18 presidential candidates within the election, considered the entrance runners, come from the three dominant ethnic teams within the nation: Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo.

From the north are Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president of the nation (1999-2007) and the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party; and Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State and the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Yoruba from the south-west, is the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Peter Obi, an Igbo from the south-east and former governor of Anambra State, is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.

For the reason that 1999 election, there was an unwritten convention that presidential energy will rotate each eight years between the northern and southern components of the nation. That’s why many people and teams from each the north and the south insist that President Muhammadu Buhari should be succeeded by somebody from the south.

Some people and teams from the south-east additional argue that as a result of the zone has not but produced a president, it ought to get its flip in 2023.

Some from the north-east, the place Atiku comes from, equally argue that it must be their flip for the reason that zone has not produced a nationwide head since Tafawa Balewa, the nation’s first and solely prime minister, within the Nineteen Sixties.

2. Faith

Similar to ethnicity and regionalism, faith has at all times been an essential software of mobilisation and discord in Nigeria.

Since 1999 there has additionally been a cautious balancing act to make sure that the president and the vice-president don’t share the identical faith. Whereas the north is predominantly Muslim, the south is predominantly Christian.

This steadiness was upset when Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba Muslim, selected Kashim Shettima, a Kanuri Muslim and former governor of Borno State, as his operating mate. Many Nigerians and teams, together with the Christian Association of Nigeria strongly condemned the ticket.

Learn extra: Africa’s largest democracy goes to the polls amid rising insecurity

3. Emergence of ‘viable’ third drive events

Till 2015, Nigeria’s political panorama was dominated by one social gathering – the Folks’s Democratic Occasion. It was the one social gathering robust sufficient to win presidential elections.

This modified in 2015 when the All Progressives Congress, a coalition of opposition events, defeated the sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan. This heralded an period of a two-party dominant state.

The emergence of the Labour Occasion and the New Nigeria Folks’s Occasion appears to have modified the electoral dynamics.

Obi frames his marketing campaign on anti-establishment rhetoric and is subsequently capable of entice a horde of pissed off younger voters. As the one Christian among the many 4 main candidates, Obi may profit electorally from Christians against Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling APC. A minimum of three opinion polls confirmed him main the race, although some have questioned the credibility of these polls.

Kwankwaso, founding father of the Kwankwasiya movement, is considered a grassroots organiser. He’s believed to be common with bizarre folks within the north however is thought to lack a robust following within the south.

Burden of historical past

Obi’s candidacy has been endorsed by Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the pan-Igbo socio-political organisation, and a few influential non-Igbo teams and people, together with former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

Within the south-east area, there’s a deeply ingrained belief that there’s a conspiracy to exclude the Igbo from sure key political positions within the nation due to their position within the Civil Warfare (1967-1970). This perception has helped gas secessionist agitations. Although the political elite of the area have remained aloof or lukewarm to Obi’s candidacy, he’s actually deified by bizarre folks within the area who’re excited by the “audacity” of his candidacy.

Presidential debates

Lately, numerous teams have been organising debates for key political contestants within the nation. Tinubu, touted as a grasp tactician by his supporters, has managed to evade these debates. After a speech to an viewers within the UK in December 2022, he left it to his aides to reply to a lot of the questions he was requested.

I’ve argued elsewhere that presidential debates do not likely have an effect on the result of presidential elections. In reality main candidates usually refuse to participate in some or all of such debates. However Tinubu’s non-appearance accentuates suspicions about his well being and several other controversies round him.

Learn extra: Nigeria’s next president faces a collapsing security situation: five things he can do

Independence of the electoral umpire and the brand new Electoral Act

The independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission has lengthy been contested. Incidents just like the burning or stealing of among the fee’s supplies, fake names on the electoral register and under-age registrations in some components of the nation elevate questions on its potential connivance.

The 2022 Electoral Act launched improvements just like the digital transmission of outcomes from the polling items and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System. These have been supposed to curb rigging. However some political forces are believed to be against their use.


The final insecurity in Nigeria could make it troublesome, if not not possible, to conduct credible elections in some components of the nation. That would have an effect on the electoral fortunes of candidates who regard such areas as their strongholds.


Cash is essential in any election, particularly in Nigeria, the place the excessive degree of poverty signifies that folks want monetary assist earlier than they’ll even attend marketing campaign rallies. Vote-trading has additionally turn into a outstanding function of elections. Regardless of measures to enhance the transparency of the electoral system, it’s doubtless that cash will stay a giant issue within the 2023 election.

Learn extra: Votes for cash: the significance of vote buying in Nigeria’s democracy

Crises and schisms throughout the events

Nigerian political events are typically particular function autos for successful elections or positioning people for political appointments. That’s why there tends to be sharp divisions and crises inside events, even the smaller ones. The diploma of cohesiveness of the frontline political events will have an effect on their probabilities within the election.

The unknown

In any engagement, there’s at all times an unexpected variable which can change the sport. Navy tacticians name it fog of war whereas the religiously inclined name it the Act of God. Till the votes are counted, a victor is introduced and the inevitable courtroom challenges are resolved, there’s nonetheless the potential of an occasion that would alter the election’s end result.