Nigeria Prepares for Upcoming Election
On February 16, Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, will have a presidential election. Incumbent Muhammadu Buhari will face challenger Atiku Abubakar.
Elected in 2015 as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and over the previous incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari will make his first bid for reelection in the 2019 elections. Challenger Atiku Abubakar is a prominent businessman and was the Vice President of Nigeria from 1999-2007 under President Olusegun Obasanjo. Abubakar is a member of the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
A prominent topic for the upcoming election will be the issue of terrorism and state security. Over the past several years, violence from terrorism and insurgency movements in the north have afflicted the nation. In 2015, Buhari ran on a promise to combat the terrorist organizations, however, the violence continues unabated. As recently as November 18, 44 soldiers died in the northern state of Borno due to insurgency violence.
Pressuring Buhari on his record regarding state security is just one facet of Abubakar's campaign playbook. Support for Buhari is very polarized: the northern states are his most reliable base of support, while the southeast views him least favorably. According to Reuters, voter registration in the southeast outpaces that of the rest of the nation.
In an endeavor to tap into the combination of newly registered voters and antipathy towards Buhari in the region, Abubakar has campaigned heavily in the southeast, even going as far as announcing his running mate as Peter Obi, a former governor from the southeast.
Analysts are predicting a tight race come February, with the possibility of a narrow Abubakar victory.