Nigeria’s Presidential ElectionAfter a weekend election preceded by a national currency crisis, ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu won president-elect in Nigeria on March 1, 2023. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s presidential election saw Tinubu receive 8.79 million votes with the primary opposition Atiku Abubakar trailing with 6.98 million votes.

New Presidency Brings Hope

Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress party and former governor of Lagos State located in Southwestern Nigeria will take leadership of a country overrun with Islamist insurgents, conflict between livestock herders and farmers, armed attacks, kidnappings and shortages of electricity and fuel. Not to mention, the currency crisis that is contributing heavily to poverty and uproar.

According to NBC News, citizens feel that the previous ruling party had failed to handle the aforementioned issues in the past, making this election incredibly important for Nigeria’s governmental and economic systems. Tinubu, hoping to gain votes from his previous successes as governor, ran on the pretense of reducing crime and cleaning up Nigeria overall.

The 2023 Nigerian currency crisis arose when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “redesigned the higher denomination notes — 200, 500 and 1,000 naira — to replace the dirty cash in circulation, to tackle inflation, curb counterfeiting and promote a cashless society,” the BBC reports.

Additionally, the redesign was meant to redistribute money hoarded by individuals and organizations into Nigeria’s financial system by requiring citizens to hand in old banknotes in exchange for the new currency. This new government-endorsed monetary system precipitated major protests leading up to the already tense election.

Poverty in Nigeria

Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2021, 63% of persons in Nigeria, equating to 133 million people, lived in conditions of multidimensional poverty.

According to a 2022 report from the World Bank, approximately about 40% of Nigerians live under the national poverty line of $381.75 per year. In Northern Nigeria, which has a much lower population density than Southern Nigeria, many people lack access to basic infrastructure like clean water, electricity and access to education.

Amid the uncertainty of what lies ahead with the reign of a new presidency, organizations are working to combat poverty in the nation. The Lagos Food Bank Initiative works to address hunger, food waste and malnutrition in Lagos State by establishing programs. The programs include a school feeding initiative, nutritious food interventions for mothers and children and family farming programs. Since 2015, the nonprofit “has served up to 160 rural and under-served communities in Lagos State and [more than 2 million] beneficiaries, especially, children between the ages of 0-16 years, the youths and vulnerable women in the rural communities.”

Looking Ahead

Tinubu’s plan for Nigeria includes using the previous president’s public infrastructure initiative to create more employment opportunities in the country. Tinubu will also close tax loopholes and lower corporate tax rates to encourage investments. “A popular fuel subsidy, which cost $10 billion last year and is driving up debt, will be phased out and the money channeled to infrastructure, agricultural and social welfare,” Reuters reports.

To address escalating rates of violence and kidnappings in the nation, Tinubu plans to strengthen soldier and police forces by increasing numbers, raising pay and better equipping these groups. He also wants to establish an organized task force to tackle terrorism and armed gangs specifically.

Tinubu, as the winner of Nigeria’s presidential election, has developed plans to strengthen the economy and uplift the impoverished while addressing other critical issues that prevent the nation from flourishing. Despite several issues impacting Nigeria, there is hope that Tinubu’s previous work of 23 years in Lagos State, though at a much smaller scale, will have similar success at a nationwide level.

– Stella Tirone
Photo: Flickr

Nigeria’s 2023 Election
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.

As of March 2022, up to 40% of Nigerians live below the country’s poverty line. Incumbent Nigerian President Buhari received criticism for failing to find a solution to the issues.

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.

Bola Tinubu

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

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
Photo: Flickr