Millions head to polls as Nigeria elects new president

By Anadolu Agency

Nigeria is voting on Saturday in an election billed as a potential turning point for Africa’s largest democracy and biggest economy.

More than 93 million registered voters will have their say in choosing a new president and lawmakers for both chambers of parliament – 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives.

Voting in what is Nigeria’s sixth general election since transitioning from military rule in 1999 began at 8.30 a.m. (0730GMT) and will end at 2.30 p.m. (1330GMT).

According to officials, more than 910,000 security personnel have been deployed across the country due to a persisting threat of terror attacks and political violence.

There are 18 candidates vying to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been in power since 2015.

The race, though, has largely narrowed down to three serious contenders: veteran politicians Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar and new challenger Peter Obi.

Tinubu, 70, is from Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and has previously served as a senator and governor of Lagos.

Abubakar, a 76-year-old businessman who was Nigeria’s vice-president from 1999 to 2007, is the candidate for the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), his record sixth shot at the top office.

At 61, Obi is the youngest in the three-way presidential contest.

The former two-time governor of Anambra, a state in southeastern Nigeria, has been polling strongly in the lead-up to the general elections, with some surveys projecting him as the winner.

‘Deciding our future’

Nigerians view Saturday’s polls as critical for the country and its future.

For most, whoever succeeds Buhari has to tackle the protracted security crisis, economic woes, youth unemployment and dissatisfaction, and an overall sense of untapped potential in Africa’s most populous – and one of its most influential – country.

“I’m voting because I want a new leader who will first address the security issues. Security is key to encourage investors, which will create jobs,” Richard Akinbobola, a public worker in Lagos, told Anadolu.

Fidelis Angba, a voter in the state of Benue, said the elections are a “matter of destiny” for many Nigerians.

“With the choices we make today, we’re deciding our future and what it will look like. If we make the wrong choice, all of us Nigerians will suffer the consequences of bad leadership,” he said. ​​​​​​​