News / Africa

Nigerians to Vote in Presidential Polls

A Nigerian man hawks snacks along a street lined with destroyed posters advertising Presidential candidate Jonathan Goodluck at Jos, Apr 15 2011
A Nigerian man hawks snacks along a street lined with destroyed posters advertising Presidential candidate Jonathan Goodluck at Jos, Apr 15 2011

Nigerians are preparing to cast their ballots on Saturday in the country's presidential election, a contest that incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is highly favored to win.

Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Committee, INEC, says it is prepared for presidential balloting after a bumpy start earlier this month.

Saturday's poll is the second in a three-part general election being held in Africa's most populous nation, and is seen as a test of whether Nigeria can hold fair elections after a decade of polls marred by corruption and violence.

Parliamentary elections held last week were postponed twice after ballot distribution problems, but INEC says all 70 million voters should be able to cast their ballots Saturday.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the former vice president, is seeking his first full term after assuming the presidency last year upon the death of his predecessor.

Although Jonathan is favored to win in a crowded field of a dozen other candidates, his two main rivals are 68-year-old former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, and the 50-year-old former anti-corruption head, Nuhu Ribadu.

One voter named Mario Samuel made it very clear who he would vote for.

"General Buhari, because he's the man whom we shall trust over all the other aspirants," Samuel said.

Samuel says he does not trust Jonathan's party, the ruling People's Democratic Party, to tackle the problem of deep-seated corruption.

Another voter, an unemployed university graduate, said he was going to vote for Buhari but changed his mind after President Jonathan promised to help create jobs for Nigeria's large number of unemployed youths.

"I made up my mind that I'm going to vote for him [Jonathan], provided he is able to meet all his political objectives," said the voter.

The PDP has won every presidential poll since the end of military rule in 1999. The party suffered significant losses in last week's polls, losing seats in the southwest and north, but still managed to maintain its majority in the National Assembly.

A fellow at international think tank Chatham House, Sola Tayo, says it's unclear whether the PDP's losses will have a major effect on the presidential poll, but that Jonathan may lose votes for failing to distinguish himself from his opponents on key campaign issues.  

"Obviously the presidentials are based more on personalities. People will vote for the party, but they tend to vote a lot for the personality," said Tayo. "Goodluck Jonathan has seen a slump in popularity recently and Mohammadu Buhari has really, really come up because a lot of people are looking to him because he's a disciplinarian and he's anti-corruption. And they take him a bit more seriously than Goodluck Jonathan, some disillusioned voters."

An Abuja-based political scientist, Ibrahim Jibrin, said regardless if Jonathan wins, the country is likely to end up with a far more dynamic political system than it has seen in more than a decade.

"The political system will have more of an equilibrium. We've had this situation in which one party controls three-quarters of the states in the country and three-quarters of the seats in the National Assembly," said Jibrin. "That created a monolithic system in which one party was dominant and the opposition was extremely weak."

"The new future," added Jibrin, "will be one in which you are going to have three or four major parties sharing seats in the National A ssembly and sharing control of states."

Jibrin says even if the shrunken PDP majority makes it more difficult for Jonathan to govern, it is healthier overall for Nigeria's democracy.

"It is more difficult, but it is also more reflective of the nature of the country. I don't believe that the PDP had the type of support it claimed," Jibrin said. "It was clear to me that a lot of their seats were through electoral fraud. What you have now is a situation in which the representation at the political level will reflect more truly the political composition of the country."

In order to win, Jonathan will not only need a simple majority but at least 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of the country's 36 states. This rule requires candidates to try and gain the support of as many regions as possible. Jonathan's stronghold is in the predominantly Christian south, while Buhari's is in the Muslim north.

Elections monitors will once again be on hand to observe the country's poll. Despite some isolated incidents of violence last week, observers said the parliamentary elections were mostly free and fair. Turnout is expected to be much higher for the presidential poll and state polls slated for next week.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs