Compass World: Nigerian Presidential Election 101

In a shock to voters across Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the 2019 general elections just hours before they were set to begin on February 16. Tomorrow, however, voters in Africa's largest democracy will finally get the opportunity to make their voice heard. Read below for what you need to know, courtesy of Compass World.



Muhammadu Buhari

  • Party: All Progressives Congress (APC)

  • Age: 76

  • Experience: Head of State (1983-85), President (2015-present)

  • Restructuring: “Let them define it and then we see how we can peacefully do it in the interest of Nigerians. They are just saying they want Nigeria restructured and they don’t have the clue of what the form the restructuring should be."

  • Main Campaign Focus: Fight corruption within the government and allow his administration to stay the course through reelection

Atiku Abubakar

  • Party: People's Democratic Party (PDP)

  • Age: 72

  • Experience: Vice President (1999-07)

  • Restructuring: “The country can be restructured in six months...It means devolving more powers to the federating units with the accompanying resources. It means greater control by the federating units of the resources in their areas.”

  • Main Campaign Focus: Lowering unemployment within the economy by investing in education and job creation


Obiageli Ezekwesili

  • Party: Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)

  • Age: 55

  • Experience: Minister of Solid Minerals (2005-06), Minister of Education (2006-07), Vice President of the World Bank's Africa Division (2007-12)

  • Restructuring: "The conversation for political restructuring has to begin with fiscal restructuring. We would actively lead the national conversation on restructuring and devolution of powers which must be had if we are to make progress."

  • Main Campaign Focus: Defeating the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria's Northeast, as Ezekwesili coined the phrase "Bring Back Our Girls" following the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping in 2014

Chike Ukaegbu

  • Party: Advanced Allied Party (AAP)

  • Age: 35

  • Experience: Founder and CEO of Startup52

  • Restructuring: "Because of the blind alienation of our cultural and traditional identities in governance...An amazing Nigeria is possible if we all begin to demand for a truly restructured Nigeria."

  • Main Campaign Focus: Developing three sectors of the Nigerian economy: education, entrepreneurship, and technological innovation


Some of the major issues at stake in the Nigerian election reflect President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance in his first term, especially his handling of the economy and governance style.

Buhari said at a meeting of the country’s 36 state governors that the economy is in bad shape due to declining oil prices, which the Nigerian depends on for 80 percent of its total revenue. Other issues in the election include security and conflict resolution.

Nigeria has suffered 27,000 deaths and 1.8 million displacements due to conflict with terrorist group Boko Haram since 2009. In 2015, Buhari declared that his administration had “technically defeated the group,” but there has been an uptick in Boko Haram attacks in recent months. This recent surge of attacks has led to concerns about election security in certain Nigerian states. In Nigeria’s central and southern regions, tensions continue between herders and farmers, and there are reports that the government favors herders, most of whom are part of Buhari’s own Fulani ethnic group.

Another hot-button issue is government restructuring, which would change fiscal relations between Nigeria’s federation of states to give more power to Nigeria’s Christian South, which feels the North is overrepresented in the current system.

Under Nigeria's electoral system, in order to win in the first round, a candidate must win a majority of all votes and receive over 25 percent of the vote in at least 24 of 36 states. Otherwise, the election moves into a second round of voting between the top two candidates from the first round.

In next week’s Compass World, we will bring you the results of Nigeria’s election. For live updates, follow our social media platforms.