Nigeria’s presidential election: It is too close to call
By Nevena Aksin
Today, millions of Nigerians are voting in what is regarded as the most closely contested presidential election in Nigeria’s modern era, and the first where an opposition victory stands a legitimate chance. Recent polls show a competition simply too close to call, with the two major parties (The People’s Democratic Party and The All Progressives Congress) commanding approximately 42 percent of the votes each(Whitehead, 2015). There are 14 contestants in this election, but the two leading candidates are the current President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the former Army General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
President Jonathan, a Christian southerner who is strongly supported in the oil- rich Niger Delta, has served as Nigeria’s President since 2010. While his term has not been all smooth sailing, under his administration Nigeria has made significant progress. Among others, his administration has promoted the advancement of democracy by creating an enabling environment where people of different backgrounds, views and opinions can be accommodated. He has promoted free speech and liberalized the press. In addition, the 2011 elections, barring some flaws, has been lauded as the most free and fair election in Nigeria’s history. Under his administration, Nigeria rebased its GDP and is now one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. Under his leadership, Nigeria introduced the Nigerian electronic identity card (e-ID card), which analysts suggest is very secure and one of the largest in Africa. Another achievement is the Almajiri system of education, which is aimed at increasing education in disadvantaged Northern parts of the country.
The advancement of women in politics has been another significant achievement. I will focus on this a bit more here. Currently, 25% of the top positions in federal government are held by women (AMOI, 2015). In 2010, Jonathan appointed Dr. Diezani Alison-Madueke to the position of Minister of Petroleum Resources. Since her appointment, she has increased oil production to approximately 2.3 million barrels per day and has also increased the participation of indigenous oil and gas companies in the industry. Women are now the third largest emerging market in the world; in order to increase and sustain economic growth, countries must begin to invest in women (AMOI, 2015). Jonathan’s efforts to promote affirmative action principles and increase gender equality are internationally recognized for their contribution to Africa’s political and economic transformation. Other women holding prominent positions in politics include Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Miriam Aloma Mukhtar (Nigeria’s first female Chief Justice), Stella Oduah, Joy Ogwu (Nigeria’s representatives at the United Nations), Sarah Jibril, and Viola Onwuliri (AMOI, 2015).
Moving forward, Jonathan’s commitment to empowering women will be crucial for Nigeria’s economic growth and development. Noted as some of the most outstanding and audacious commitments, Jonathan’s determination to increase women’s participation in politics has allowed Nigeria to appointment of women into senior political positions.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
Despite his notable changes, Nigerians continue to harbour distrust and dislike for Jonathan due to his lack of political will to combat government corruption. It is estimated that approximately 70% of oil revenues only benefit a mere 2% of the entire population due to government corruption. In addition, Nigeria’s central bank governor was terminated in 2014 after he announced 20 billion dollars was unaccounted for in oil revenues. Many locals regard Jonathan’s government as the most corrupt yet whereby his desperation for re-election is so strong that he would never damage a relationship with corrupt political allies.
As a result, Nigerians are prepared to turn to Buhari, who is largely considered as untainted. Buhari, a Muslim northerner, is dedicated to implementing anti-corruption measures and tightened security (Soyombo, 2014). He states, “Rebuilding the army and other security agencies will… be a top priority of my government. I will ensure that never again will terrorists find a safe haven in Nigeria.”
He intends to implement effective military action against Boko Haram and stated that he would reunite more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the group with their families. Despite the fact that many Nigerians view his efforts as genuine and honest, the APC is made up of many of the many old political elites who known to engage in corruption, and whose credentials and transparency are weak (Soyombo, 2014).
As many Nigerians are left to choose between Jonathan or Buhari, some Nigerians will decide not to vote at all. Oluwaseyi Adepoju, a political man doesn’t demonstrate any interest in the election. Adepoju expressed, “There is simply no good choice to be made,”. Even if there were any worthy presidential candidates, he lost faith in Nigeria’s political system a long time ago.
AMOI. (2015, Winter Special Edition). Championing Gender Equality in Nigeria. AMOI Magazine, 35-111.
Soyombo, F. (2014). Will Muhammadu Buhari be Nigeria’s next president? Aljazeera. Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/12/will-muhammadu-buhari-be- niger-2014123191647111939.html
Whitehead, E. (2015). A tough choice in Nigeria’s elections. Aljazeera. Retrieved from