Five factors that may affect outcome of 2023 presidential election
In a few hours, 87,209,007 Nigerians will flock to 176,606 polling units across the country to elect a new President in a presidential election that will mark Nigeria's 24th year of uninterrupted democracy.
On February 5, the deadline for collecting Permanent Voter Cards across the country, 6,259,229 registered voters did not show up to collect theirs in order to vote.
Indeed, Nigerians are considering electing the next president, who will take office on May 29, 2023, following the completion of the President's two terms (retd).
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission's breakdown of total eligible voter figures by state, Lagos State has the most collected PVCs with 6,214,970, followed by Kano State with 5,594,193; Kaduna State with 4,164,473, and Ekiti State with 958,052.
There are 18 candidates from various political parties vying for the position, but the top four candidates are Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People's Party.
The nigerianwatch critically evaluates five major factors that could determine the outcome of tomorrow's election in this report:
1. Regionalism and ethnicity
Nigerians have always played the ethnic and regional cards in elections in the past. In fact, "the person is our son, let him do it" has always been the case. Many Nigerians believe that electing someone from their region or ethnic group will result in significant development.
Since the establishment of the Fourth Republic in 1999, there has been an unwritten rule that presidential power should be rotated every eight years between the North and South. Political leaders agree that due to the country's heterogeneous nature, power rotation has become necessary to address complaints of marginalisation and domination, and to give equal power to ethnic groups.
Zoning has worked well, resulting in a smooth transfer of power from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who ruled for eight years, to Northerner Musa Yar' Adua.
This is what prompted the APC's candidate, who publicly stated his support for Buhari's election as President, to call for 'Emilokan' (a Yoruba term indicating that it is Yoruba time).
The South East is not backing down in their push for the presidency because they believe they have been marginalized sufficiently since the return of civil rule in 1999.
It is believed that this is what prompted the call for secession and the endorsement of the Labour Party's candidate by the apex socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Religion will also play a role in determining the outcome of Saturday's election. Since 1999, there has always been a balance in the selection of President and Vice President by all major political parties.
For example, if the presidential candidate is a Muslim, he will make certain that his running mate is a Christian.
While the north is mostly Muslim, the south is mostly Christian.
Tinubu, a Yoruba Muslim, upset the balance by selecting Kashim Shettima, a Kanuri Muslim and former governor of Borno State, as his running mate.
This action drew widespread condemnation from Nigerians and Christian organizations.
As things stand now, many voters may have to camp out with people who share their religious beliefs.
3. The potential emergence of a third force party
Prior to this administration, the PDP dominated Nigeria's political space until February 2013, when the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change, and the All Nigeria Peoples Party joined forces with a breakaway faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance to form the APC.
The newly formed coalition defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, ushering in an era of two-party dominance in Nigeria. The LP and NNPP, on the other hand, are looking to change the electoral dynamics in Saturday's election, which could change the narrative.
Obi's supporters, known colloquially as the "Obidient" Movement, primarily comprised of young people, believe that the Labour Party candidate will significantly alter the country's political landscape.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, as well as some influential non-Igbo groups and individuals, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, have endorsed Obi's candidacy.
Another NNPP candidate is Kwankwaso, the founder of the Kwankwasiya movement and a grassroots organizer. He is popular with ordinary people in the North but does not have a large following in the South.
Given the country's current cash crunch, vote-buying could influence the outcome of Saturday's presidential election.
Nigeria is not yet ready for a democratic election free of vote-trading, which has become an important factor in motivating voters to turn out to their polling stations.
Recently, some party chairmen from one of the political parties were reported to be demanding mobilization fees from the presidential candidate or the elections would be canceled.
Despite efforts to improve electoral transparency, money is likely to remain a major factor in the 2023 elections.
5. Aversion to violence
There are numerous accounts in Nigeria's political history of violent election behavior and behavior by actors at election sites.
Rising insecurity in many parts of the country foreshadows the 2023 general election. The obvious result is that voters may be too afraid to exercise their right to vote, resulting in high voter apathy.
In fact, some local governments in Borno and Zamfara states have established super camps for indigenous people who have been displaced from their homes in order to protect their voting rights.
Some people may not come out in other places because they are afraid of being attacked if the outcome does not favor the dominant party's areas.
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