With more than 175,000 polling stations across Nigeria open, voters have been casting their votes to elect a new president of Nigeria.
These votes are coming as the country battles with a national banknote shortage, which some fear will lead to a lower turnout than expected.
To win, the next president must have at least 50% of all votes and at minimum 25% in the two thirds Nigeria of federal states.
Some states had delays in voting because electoral officials were unable to verify voters’ identities before they could cast their ballots.
The polling stations were scheduled to close at 2.30pm (UK time). However, Mahmood Yakubu is the head of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission. Everyone would be able to vote “no matter what time it takes”, said Mahmood Yakubu, head of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission.
The process of counting and collating ballots will take several days. Official results should be available in the first week.
Despite having 18 potential presidential candidates, only three have been elected as the front-runners.
Who’s taking the lead?
Nigeria’s favorite candidates are Bola Ahmed Tinubu (former governor of Lagos) and Atiku Abubakar (main opposition candidate).
Peter Obi (candidate for the Labour Party ), third favorite, has been leading opinion polls.
It is not clear if these supporters will show up at the polling stations in force. This was due to the long wait at banks in the country this week in search of money.
Bola Ahmed (the top candidate) and Atiku Abdulakar (the second highest), are both in their 70s. Both have been involved in Nigerian politics since 1999.
Peter Obi (61), is the youngest front-runner and has surged in polls over the past weeks to make it the most popular candidate.
Bola Tinubu is a strong supporter of the incumbent president, the All Progressives Congress party.
Atiku Abubakar is a well-known Nigerian businessman who has also served as vice president and presidential candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party in 2019.
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Many first-time voters were also present at the election.
In Lagos, Wuraola Abuulatan accused the ruling party for failing to fulfill the 2015 promises it made when it came to power.
She said, “I lost hope for Nigeria. But when Peter Obi began campaigning, that hope returned.”
“I want Nigeria to get better.”
The currency crisis
Officials said that they were able to obtain much of the money required by the government to conduct the election, but it was unclear what the full impact of Nigeria’s currency crisis on Saturday’s elections.
After the redesign of Nigeria’s currency in November 2013, the naira (new bills) was slow to circulate.
The country’s older bank notes were also no longer accepted, creating a cash shortage. Many people use cash to meet their daily needs.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and top oil producer, is closely watching the vote.
UN estimates that Nigeria will be the third-most populous country in the world by 2050 after India and China.
It also has one of the most diverse youth populations in the world. About 64 million of its 210,000,000 residents are between 18 and 35 years old, with an average age just 18.