The Nigerian Voter is a series that seeks to understand the motivations that drive the voting decisions of Nigerians — why they vote, how they choose their candidates, why some have never voted, and their wildest stories around elections.
In today’s edition, Citizen discusses the various factors that could affect the choice of a Nigerian Voter as they prepare to come to the polls in February 2023.
With Nigerian voters being only 31 days shy from casting their votes in February 2023, a lot of activity has been going on from key players in the political scene.
This ranges from party defections to allegations against candidates and so much more. And these activities have a very high chance of determining who a voter would support during an election.
However, some of these factors play a key role in voter decisions. These are:
There are 18 candidates vying for the presidency, and three of them are from the major ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from the North, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the South-West, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) from the East.
Despite the provision given by law which allows individuals of all tribes to contest for elections, there has been controversy since 1999 that presidential power should rotate every eight years between the northern and southern parts of the country.
This is why many individuals and groups from the north and the south agree that President Muhammadu Buhari must be succeeded by someone from the south.
However, a South-Eastern presidency (which could be made likely with Obi winning the elections) has been a source of controversy amongst ethnic tribes.
This is largely because the zone is clamouring to produce its first-ever president in Nigeria.
Religion, like ethnicity, has always been a very key factor in voter participation. Islam and Christianity are the two biggest religions in Nigeria, with 53.5% of Nigerians being Muslim and 45.9% being Christian respectively.
Since 1999 there has also been an unwritten law to ensure that the president and the vice president do not share the same religion. While the north is predominantly Muslim, the south is predominantly Christian.
But that may change if this man comes along.
In July 2022, Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba Muslim, chose Kashim Shettima, a Kanuri Muslim and former governor of Borno State, as his running mate.
As expected, many Nigerians and groups, including the Christian Association of Nigeria, strongly condemned the ticket.
But that didn’t stop the BAT, as he is still proudly campaigning on a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
The rise of a ‘third force’
Until 2015, the only strong contenders for the presidency were the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Their winning streak ended when their candidate (Goodluck Jonathan) lost the 2015 elections to President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
In 2023, things are looking to change with the rise of a third-party force from the Labour Party (LP). This is all due to its presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Already he has managed to create a strong Obidient movement across the country, as well as become a favourite for the elections with more than four opinion polls in his favour.
In a country with over 63% of its population being multidimensionally poor, anyone is looking for a means to hustle and make money. Even if it means selling their votes to do it.
However, there are promises of reduction in the act.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmoud Yakubu, promised Nigerians that party agents caught buying votes during the 2023 elections would be rightfully punished in accordance with the Electoral Act.