Barring last-minute changes, Nigerians will on February 25 and March 11 head to the polls for the seventh general elections since the country’s return from military rule to democracy in 1999. Nigeria, now in its Fourth Republic, after three democratic epochs burgled by military through bloody coups, has enjoyed uninterrupted democracy in the last 24 years. Though nascent, the democracy in Africa’s most populated country with over 200 million people has withstood many challenges in over two decades.
Of its over 200 million citizens, 93,469,008 persons have been listed as eligible voters for the 2023 general elections, according to data by the country’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 44,441, 846 (47.5%) are females while 49,054,162 (52.5%) are males. Similarly, of the total number of registered voters, 37,060,399 are youths while 33,413, 591 are middle-aged persons.
87,209,007 Nigerians with Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) representing 93.3% of the 93,469,008 total registered voters will on February 25 choose the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari whose two-term tenure of eight years ends on May 29, 2023.
Eighteen political parties field candidates for the elections slated to hold in two phases beginning with the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 25, 2023 while Governorship and State Houses of Assembly hold on Saturday, March 11, 2023.
Eighteen candidates are jostling to win the presidential election and be the new occupant of Aso Rock, the country’s seat of power in the nation’s capital city of Abuja, after Buhari’s tenure. The race is largely among Labour Party’s Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
A total of 1,100 senatorial candidates are vying for 109 senatorial seat in the National Assembly while 3,112 House of Representatives candidates across 36 states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory are contending and 360 seats of the federal lower chamber.
Also, governorship candidates and their running mates are vying for 28 out of the 36 States of the Federation. This is so as the governorship elections of eight states (Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Osun and Ondo) are held off-season and not part of the general elections. Thousands of candidates are competing for 993 State Houses of Assembly seats.
With the assent to the Electoral Act 2022 by President Buhari, the 2023 general elections is anticipated to be a game-changer, especially with the deployment of 176, 846 Bimodal Voter Registration Systems (BVAS) and the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV), technological systems that allows the accreditation of voters through biometrics capturing, uploading of results amongst others.