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It’s election season in Nigeria and a record number of voters were registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which can be interpreted as an indicator of how high the stakes are in the forthcoming Presidential, Senatorial and Legislative elections.
The presidential election where incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari is contesting for a second term in office, is particularly heated, characterised by questions of credibility and perceived electoral injustices.
Last week, the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) halted its campaign,protesting Buhari’s decision to suspend the country’s chief justice who is accused of breaching asset-declaration rules.
Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, who heads the Supreme Court, would have ruled on any legal challenge to the result.
Buhari has repeatedly vowed to deliver a credible election, even as his All Progressives Congress party (APC) and PDP accuse each other of plotting election fraud.
Both the PDP and APC were accused of vote-buying in recent governorship elections.
The United States and Britain, key allies of the West African nation have threatened to deny visas to anyone involved in vote-rigging or election violence.
Hopes for a peaceful and credible election are just one of many issues that have dominated the campaigns and aspirations of Nigerians ahead of the February 16 election.
Just like the 2015 elections where Buhari made history and the first opposition candidate to unseat an incumbent president, corruption, insecurity and the economy are the key issues likely to influence voters’ decisions.
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While Buhari tackled corruption in his first term, particularly through the single treasury account that he claims has reduced leakages in the country’s finances, his government has been accused of embarking on a political witch-hunt of his rivals, in the name of fighting corruption.
Indeed, when campaigns were launched, Buhari emphasised that he needed another mandate to consolidate the groundwork already laid in his fight against corruption, revival of the economy and the struggle to secure Nigerians against terrorists and internal security threats.
Buhari’s main rival in this presidential election, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, has chosen to focus on Buhari’s failings as far as reviving the economy for the benefit of Nigerians.
“If the state of the average Nigerian has not improved in the last three and a half years, more of the same is obviously not what they need,” Atiku’s camp said in response to Buhari’s appeal for a second term.
In his bid to diversify the economy and create much needed jobs for Nigeria’s massive youth population, Atiku says he will introduce bidding rounds for marginal fields and oil blocks, privatise government-owned refineries and issue new licences for greenfield investments in crude refineries.
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