Nigeria 2015 Election Preview – Are Nigerians willing to turn a blind eye?

Nigeria, the heart of Africa, is notorious for its tensions during the election season and it’s no surprise that the world awaits in anticipation of what result lay next year. The Nigerian election has been scheduled for 14th February 2015, and in exactly 2 months from today, the President-elect will be announced. This election holds significant importance for the entire continent, as it’s results will determine the next leader of the largest economy in Africa. Furthermore, with the recent insurgence of the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram and a crumbling security system, this election is set to be very unpredictable. Capital Moments takes a look at the current political environment and the choices that awaits voters in February.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, there are 26 registered political parties in Nigeria (INEC); however only a selected few are visible in the political arena, of this selected few are the two political powerhouses Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).The existing president, Goodluck Jonathan was voted as PDP’s presidential candidate for the coming election. This decision has come to the dislike of certain Northern elites, who argue the president has broken the unwritten rule; which states the presidential seat should alternate between the south and north every two terms. The lowest point of his presidency so far has been the Independence Day bombing in 2012 and the recent media outrage of the 200 missing Chibok schoolgirls. The president has been under scrutiny for his inability to tackle the radical terrorist group Boko Haram and the inadequate measure taken in the recovery the schoolgirls.

The latest report by the Transparency International (TI) affirms Jonathan’s effort in tackling corruption as Nigeria moves 8 places from the 144th to 136th in the Global Corruption Report. The recent scandal of the national oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and its failure to account for $20bn in oil revenues conveys a different perspective. Moreover, Jonathan has been praised for his efforts in tackling the Ebola epidemic in Nigeria, as well as the economic achievement of Nigeria becoming the biggest economy in Africa. However, many argue the economic milestone hasn’t been reflected in the living standards of Nigerians.

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A tricky choice?

Just last week, the opposition party APC announced Muhammad Buhari as their presidential candidate for the 2015 election. Despite Buhari’s age, he is 71, the APC is convinced he is the most suitable candidate for the role. This will be a repeat of the 2011 election, when Buhari and Jonathan contested against each other for the presidential seat, in which Jonathan had the better luck. This election is prone to be subjected to variables such as religion, tribe and location. Regional differences will be amplified with Buhari originating from the Muslim north whilst Jonathan remains a western figurehead as a Christian from Nigeria’s south-east region, these contrasts were reflected in the geographic votes, as Jonathan had majority of the votes from southern Nigeria, while Buhari received a large proportion of his votes from the north.

Muhammad Buhari is no stranger to power, the former military General ascended into the presidential seat on December 31, 1983 overthrowing civilian president Shehu Shagari. Buhari’s presidential reign was infamous for his disciplinary actions against corruption and impunity and he is widely expected to re-establish such regimes if elected. Nonetheless, Buhari’s robust notion towards anti-corruption and military intellect is seen as the answer to Nigeria’s overdue corruption problems and current terrorist attacks. Voters may be willing to overlook Buhari’s record of poor human rights and tyrant style governance; in hope that Nigeria’s prevailing issues might be resolved.

The election choice can be put into 2 questions, are Nigerians willing to turn a blind eye to Buhari’s past military ruling for an enhanced security system and a more transparent economy? Or are they willing to excuse Jonathan’s past mistakes for a stronger social and economically able Nigeria?

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