Nigeria's 2023 elections and the challenges ahead, By Idayat Hassan – Premium Times


Just 34.75 per cent of eligible Nigerians voted in 2019 and a similarly low, or lower, turnout in 2023 would further undermine the credibility of the poll. But given the prevailing insecurity across the country…difficulties in registering for permanent voter cards in insecure areas in Northern and South-East Nigeria and the likely rampant misinformation and disinformation that will emerge in the lead up to voting day…means that fewer Nigerians may vote next year than in 2019.
With dates for the 2023 Nigeria general elections now set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – the presidential and National Assembly poll is set for February 25 and governorship and other subnational elections are scheduled for March 11 – the countdown is well underway for what will be the seventh consecutive elections since the return to democracy in 1999. This represents 23 years of unbroken democracy; the longest period in the country’s history.
The 2023 elections will be conducted under a new electoral framework, the Electoral Act 2022. The Act allows INEC to review results made under duress or financial inducement, extends the time for campaigns from 90 to 150 days, and provides for the use of technology to determine the mode of voting and transmission of results. Pundits believe these measures can help manage situations where inaccurate results are returned, expand the opportunity for politicians to visit the nooks and crannies of the country if they so desire and cure the chaotic, vulnerable manipulation and unnecessarily opaque process of aggregating results.
However, instead of reducing the role of money in politics, the Act has increased the campaign finance limit from N1 billion to N5 billion for presidential candidates. The ceiling for all other elected positions have also been increased fivefold, but without any efforts to improve the scrutiny of compliance limits, they are still likely to be exceeded.
Presidential aspirants
The Electoral Act requires that parties submit the names of their candidates 180 days before the elections, thereby allowing for the legal resolution of fractious primaries ahead of the voting day. In signing the Electoral Act, President Buhari also requested that the section that precludes political office holders from participating in party primaries and voting during congresses be deleted, as it breaches participation rights. However, the National Assembly refused to make this amendment. This meant that several of Buhari’s ministers were unable to contest for elective office unless they first resigned their positions.
Potential third forces that could increase the likelihood of Nigeria’s first ever presidential run-off election are Peter Obi, 60, who withdrew from the PDP primary contest and will now run as the Labour Party flagbearer, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, 65. While Obi has cultivated a significant online following among younger voters, Kwankwaso is equally popular among youths in his native Kano State.
In late May, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) delegates chose a long-time presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar as their candidate, as they did in 2019. He will face off against Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). On June 8, Tinubu emerged from an initial field of 28 candidates who paid N100 million each to purchase the party nomination forms. Just like at the PDP convention, when the decisive movement was delivered by the governor of Sokoto’s decision to stand down, handing his delegate votes to Atiku, the APC presidential primaries saw frontline South-West candidates such as governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi and former Ogun governor, Ibikunle Amosun, stepping down, and handing Tinubu their bloc votes.
The Old and the New?
Tinubu, 70, and Atiku, 75, are now the frontline candidates in the forthcoming elections and both have significant war chests at their disposal. They previously worked together in 2007 when Tinubu’s party, the Action Congress, fielded Atiku, then the outgoing vice president, as their presidential candidate, and in 2015 when both were frontline promoters of the APC. However, with 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population being youths and with many among that generation already disgruntled with the ruling class, following events such as the #EndSars protest against police brutality, the prospect of widening an intergenerational divide is clear.
Potential third forces that could increase the likelihood of Nigeria’s first ever presidential run-off election are Peter Obi, 60, who withdrew from the PDP primary contest and will now run as the Labour Party flagbearer, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, 65. While Obi has cultivated a significant online following among younger voters, Kwankwaso is equally popular among youths in his native Kano State. The attempt to create a formidable third force seems to have been midwifed as the Peoples Redemption Party, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), National Rescue Movement (NRM) and the Nigeria Labour Congress have all agreed, for now, to an alliance to run under the banner of the Labour Party. A joint Obi-Kwankwaso ticket could shake up the presidential race.
Challenges Ahead
The 2023 elections will be some of the most challenging to conduct in Nigeria as the country battles nodes of complex insecurity. The Boko Haram conflict that defined the 2015 election is yet to be quelled, and with bandits operating across the North-West, violent secessionist agitation spiraling in the South-East and farmer-herder clashes ongoing across the country, the 2023 election is set to take place amidst nationwide insecurity. The June 5 attack on a church in relatively stable Ondo State, in South-West Nigeria, which saw more than 50 people killed, was a stark reminder of the insecurity challenges that will make the safety of election materials and personnel a major challenge for INEC.
The forthcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Ekiti (June 18) and Osun (July 16) states will offer an early indication of what to expect in the 2023 general elections. But the financial implications of an extended election season are already putting strain on an economy that has hobbled in and out of recession in the last seven years. 
INEC chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, is the first election body head to get a second term in the country’s history. But whilst Yakubu has done well to build on the successes of his predecessor, Attahiru Jega by adopting innovation and consulting regularly with key stakeholders, Nigeria’s zero-sum political game with desperate and disparate actors, out to win at all costs, still poses a sizeable threat to electoral integrity, despite technological advances. The forthcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Ekiti (June 18) and Osun (July 16) states will offer an early indication of what to expect in the 2023 general elections. But the financial implications of an extended election season are already putting strain on an economy that has hobbled in and out of recession in the last seven years. The naira is now trading at over N600 to one $1 on the black market, as thousands of dollars are dispersed by political aspirants at all levels to shore up support.
Voter turnout is another area of concern. Just 34.75 per cent of eligible Nigerians voted in 2019 and a similarly low, or lower, turnout in 2023 would further undermine the credibility of the poll. But given the prevailing insecurity across the country, the choice available when it comes to the presidential race, difficulties in registering for permanent voter cards in insecure areas in Northern and South-East Nigeria and the likely rampant misinformation and disinformation that will emerge in the lead up to voting day, designed to draw distinct divisions and undermine the credibility of key election stakeholders, means that fewer Nigerians may vote next year than in 2019.
Nigeria may be experiencing its longest run of uninterrupted democracy but its quality remains very much in need of improvement.
Idayat Hassan is director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).

Donate
TEXT AD: Call Willie – +2348098788999



xProduct()
if (screen && screen.width > 1024){var script=document.createElement(‘script’); script.src=’//served-by.pixfuture.com/www/delivery/headerbid.js’; script.setAttribute(“slotId”,”20018x300x600x3423x_ADSLOT9″); script.setAttribute(“refreshInterval”,30); script.setAttribute(“refreshTime”,5); document.getElementById(“20018x300x600x3423x_ADSLOT9”).appendChild(script);}

Enter your email address and receive notifications of news by email.
Join 1,876,691 other subscribers.


var adx_adsvr_adspace_vAppRoot=”https://ads.dochase.com/adx-dir-d/”;
var adx_adsvr_adspace_id=”3985″;
var adx_size=”300×250″;
var adx_custom=””;
var adx_nid=”13″;

var adx_adsvr_adspace_vAppRoot=”https://ads.dochase.com/adx-dir-d/”;
var adx_adsvr_adspace_id=”3985″;
var adx_size=”300×250″;
var adx_custom=””;
var adx_nid=”13″;

All content is Copyrighted © 2020 The Premium Times, Nigeria
All content is Copyrighted © 2020 The Premium Times, Nigeria

source

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.