More than 20 candidates are seeking the presidency of Nigeria, each promising a change in the country’s political and economic direction.
Nigeria, a top oil producer, makes millions of dollars annually from exports, but much of that money is lost to corruption. The World Bank estimates that 80 percent of energy revenues go to only one percent of the population.
Transparency International has called Nigeria one of the most corrupt nations in the world.
It is an image the next president will try to change.
He will need “the integrity to seriously address the issue of corruption,” said Okey Ndibe, a novelist, political columnist, essayist and professor at Trinity College in the U.S. state of Connecticut.
Even though the country faces many other challenges, analysts say corruption lies at the heart of its problems.
Nigeria, said Ndibe, needs a president with the “moral capital” to deal with the problem.
One of the frontrunners is former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who was president in the early 1980s. He is one of the few candidates with “the courage [and] integrity to seriously address the issue of corruption,” said Ndibe.
Energy is also a priority for many people, who face days and nights of constant power cuts and load shedding, or rolling blackouts. “Nigeria is beset by… regular power failures and the cost of doing business is astronomical as a result of the very erratic power supply,” Ndibe said.
More than 73 million people have registered to vote. Last Saturday the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the first round of elections – for the Senate – for one week after ballot and tally sheets were delayed by a supplier.