Nigerian elections postponed by one week amid logistical issues

Buhari launches re election campaign
Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde
Buhari launches re election campaign
Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

Nigerians head to the polls today to vote in a new National Assembly and to elect the country’s next president.

DEVELOPING: Nigeria’s election commission announced at 0150 GMT that it will delay today’s election by one week, citing logistical challenges.

While 73 candidates are vying for the presidency, there are two clear frontrunners: incumbent Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Mr Buhari has focused on continuing his fight against corruption, an issue that has plagued Nigeria for decades. Meanwhile Mr Abubakar, who has faced graft allegations, has promised to rebuild Nigeria’s economy—unemployment sits above 20%, while the economy expanded by a sluggish 1.9% last year.

An area of focus for the two candidates is oil, which accounts for over 50% of government revenues. Nigeria’s economy rises and falls with the volatile oil market—the economy contracted in 2016 to coincide with plummeting oil prices.

To diversify the economy, Mr Abubakar has promised to privatise state companies and lower corporate taxes to encourage foreign investment. Mr Buhari, who fears privatisation would incite corruption, has focused on boosting small business and infrastructure.

Nigerians face a stark choice today: continue the slow fight against corruption or risk a return to the corrupt practices of a decade ago for a promise of economic growth. While the election could go either way, polling suggests Mr Buhari is the slight favourite. Thus, expect Nigeria’s economy to remain at the mercy of oil prices over the medium-term.

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