Nigerian Elections Postponed and Civil Strife Continues
Nigeria is being rocked by a turmoil-filled election cycle, one that has witnessed allegations of corruption, rigging, fake news, and ultimately the postponement of the election set to take place Saturday, Feb. 16. The election is pitting two major political figures in Nigeria against each other: the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Concerns of widespread violence and civil strife have been rocking the country leading up to the election. Much of the turmoil is based around the major security issues concerning the rise of the terrorist group Boko Haram.
The pre-election violence has also reportedly taken the lives of 66 people in the Kaduna province alone. The violence has claimed the lives of 22 children and is being attributed to religious turmoil between rural Christians and Muslims. In addition, the Niger Delta Avengers, a group well known for their previous attack on the country’s oil infrastructure, have pledged they will attack again if Buhari is re-elected. There are also allegations of election rigging on the part of Buhari in which there seem to be irregularities in 2018’s voter registration numbers. The numbers show that exactly the same number of registered voters appeared in all states, something an analyst called a “statistical impossibility.”
Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015 in a shocking victory, defeating the incumbent president at the time. He ran on a platform filled with a slew of proposals aimed at tackling corruption, security and bolstering the economy. However, Buhari has largely fallen short on many of these promises. No substantial anti-corruption measures have been put in place and although Boko Haram has lost territory, they are still launching deadly attacks. The economy is where Buhari has largely come short; in 2016 Nigeria entered a recession and in 2018 it had the worst performing stock market in the world. On top of that, there has been a practically constant threat of oil insecurity, which would damage the central government’s main source of revenue.
Atiku Abubakar, on the other hand, is a businessman set on bringing economic prosperity to the country. He is vowing for more privatization of industries including breaking up parts of the state-run oil company and renegotiating contracts with big foreign oil companies. Abubakar is also a former Vice-President of Nigeria and is a long-standing prominent figure in the country. His main failings are his accusations of corruption and links to criminal activity.
The elections have now been postponed and are set to take place Feb. 23. This move has come largely out of nowhere as the Independent National Electoral Committee announced the delay following “logistical issues” regarding the distribution of ballots to polling stations. Allegations are now being waged on both sides and each has accused the other of election tampering. It remains unclear how this delay will change the potential outcome, but it is clear that tensions are running high. The election postponement has largely caused great confusion and many are worried of election tampering on the part of the government.
The elections have been marred with civil strife and it seems there is no immediate end in sight. The candidates are each vying for a crucial edge over the other and pitting people against each other. There are wide growing fears that this post-election violence could end up being substantial and on par with the violence witnessed in 2015. On Feb. 23 it will all be decided, barring any more unforeseen delays.