Although Nigeria’s 2023 election is a while away, political parties have already nominated their preferred candidates. The two spearheading candidates are Bola Tinubu from the All Progressives Congress, current president Muhammadu Buhari’s party and Atiku Abubakar from the opposing People’s Democratic Party. Additionally, the less popular Labour Party picked Peter Obi as their candidate. Nigeria’s election and future rest in their hands.
Nigeria’s Current Issues
The next Nigerian president is bound to have a wide array of issues to address. One issue to address is the rising poverty and unemployment. As of June 2021, Nigeria ranked as the country with the third-highest number of unemployed people. From the second to the fourth quarter of 2020, the West African nation experienced a 6.2% increase in the unemployment rate. The year ended with 33.3% of Nigeria unemployed.
Banditry is another large issue in Nigeria. The conflict has been ongoing since 2010, resulting in more than 12,000 deaths. It is concentrated in the northwestern region of the country. The bandits travel armed on motorcycle or horseback when invading towns and villages, usually before conducting a kidnap. In 2019, four unidentified gunmen kidnapped Musa Umar, the district head of a northern Nigeria town called Daura. Daura is also the hometown of current president Buhari, who, at the time of the kidnapping, was in London.
Banditry-related deaths in Nigeria have been on the rise in recent years. More than 2,600 civilian deaths occurred in 2021 which is more than a 250% increase from 2020. Whichever candidate wins the 2023 election will have to combat his country’s worsening bandit crisis.
When Tinbu polled 1,271 votes and won the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu promised to “make Nigeria the best home for its citizens.” The former governor of Lagos State also said he would “change the face of the national economy” through accelerated progressive reform. Nigeria’s economy has been struggling since Buhari took power. Living standards have decreased and inflation has increased, with prices shooting three times higher than before.
In April 2022, Tinubu addressed a large gathering of young Nigerians, declaring that a country free of banditry was possible.
Tinubu also plans to lower Nigeria’s dependence on imports by growing manufacturing through a deep seaport installation in the south of the country and furthering oil and gas exploration.
Atiku Abubakar is currently on his third presidential campaign. Similar to his political opponent, Abubakar pledged to end Nigeria’s violence issue. The former Vice President of Nigeria was once committed to privatizing state-owned oil and revitalizing investment in private infrastructure.
In his campaign, Abubakar has promised to end the lack of security in Nigeria and strengthen the flailing economy, alongside a pledge to restore unity. After Abubakar secured his position as the People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate, he accused Tinubu’s party of being the reason for division in Nigeria and the country’s economic struggle.
Whichever candidate wins Nigeria’s 2023 election will have to combat banditry, inflation, poverty and general insecurity. Nigeria’s 2023 election and future hold uncertainty that only Bola Tinubu or Atiku Abubakar can make clear.
– Sophie Buibas