Why is the 2023 Nigerian election the most important election Nigeria has ever had?

The 2023 Nigerian election is set to be the most significant in the country’s history for several reasons. While past elections have had similar issues, such as corruption through voter intimidation, vote buying, and false counting, the current circumstances make it different. Due to the recent hardships, more Nigerians are invested in this election than ever before.

The upcoming election will likely be divided along ethnic lines, a reality rooted in Nigeria’s history. During colonial times, the British used the divide-and-conquer rule by grouping people together and favouring specific ethnic groups for various positions while suppressing others. This led to tension, and Nigeria’s independence only exacerbated issues. The ethnic groups in Nigeria have different religions, languages and live in distinct regions, making it challenging to administer a democratic government where people can look past ethnic preferences.

What makes this year unique is that this is the first time in Nigeria’s history that the three major ethnic groups (Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo) have a presidential candidate with a good chance of winning.

The candidates 

  • Peter Obi and Yusuf Baba-Ahmed from the Labour Party
  • Abubakar Atiku and Ifeanyi Okowa from PDP
  • Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima from APC

Peter Obi is the running candidate from Anambra State (Igbo region). He is likely to win the Igbo states in the South East due to the good reputation from he earned during tenure as Anambra State governor, and the support he has received from young urban voters. He’s also likely to win the entire South-South geopolitical region.

Bola Tinubu, the former Governor of Lagos State, will likely win the support of all the states with a majority Yoruba ethnic population in the South West of the country. However, he has received a mixed reception, with many people associating him with corruption and so-called “godfatherism” which was established during his tenure as Lagos State governor.

The third candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is expected to win many of the northern states as a Fulani Muslim. He has run for president on multiple occasions with little success. He has also been involved in numerous scandals, which has led to many Nigerians to distrust him.

What does this mean for Nigeria’s future?

The upcoming presidential election in Nigeria is significant because the country is currently facing a range of pressing issues. Among these issues are heavy inflation, fuel shortages, and currency problems. 

Weakening Naira & Inflation

Despite being a major oil-producing nation, Nigeria must import refined oil due to a lack of local refining facilities. This is further compounded by the falling strength of the Naira, which has more than halved in value against the US dollar since the presidency of Muhamudu Buhari. As a result, Nigeria is now more indebted than before. Moreover, high inflation means that essential goods and fuel cost more, making travel and groceries more expensive for the average Nigerian. 

Last Minute Disruptions 

The government’s decision to print new physical cash to combat politicians hoarding cash to facilitate voter buying has also led to an insufficient amount of the new currency in circulation, causing people to be turned away from banks as they await the arrival of the newly printed money.

The Future…

Given Nigeria’s current state of affairs, the country needs a president who can unite it and address its recent and historic problems. These include economic instability, environmental problems, and fuel issues. The incoming president must tackle corruption head-on, as continued corruption in the presidency could cause Nigeria to spiral into chaos that may take generations to recover from.


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