On February 26, 2023, the Nigeria Presidential Election was held across the country, and it came with many intrigues. This article evaluates the election and delves into the many elements that played a role in deciding the election’s outcome.
The Impact of New Naira Notes on Vote Buying
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) launched new Naira notes on December 15, 2022, to replace the old naira notes (N200, N500, N1000); this initiative was met with mixed feelings as many felt initiating the policy a few months to the General Elections might be counter-productive. However, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, had revealed that it was necessary to change the old Naira notes to intensify its fight against insecurity and boost the nation’s economy. As a result, holders of the senior notes were asked to exchange these old Naira notes for new ones at the bank. However, this didn’t work as planned, as banks complained of a shortage of new Naira notes.
Inversely, the currency in circulation before the election was low. Over the years, politicians have bought votes during elections to beat their opponents. With the shortage of money in circulation, it became increasingly more work to buy votes. Some Governors, notably led by the Governors of Kaduna, Kogi, and Kano States, had to challenge this initiative in court, asking the Supreme Court to allow the use of the old Naira notes alongside the new ones. The Supreme Court ruled in their favour. However, this ruling needed to be adhered to, as most banks had to shut down, arguing that they needed more new Naira notes to give to their already enraged customers.
This impacted the election greatly as it drastically reduced every attempt to compromise the sanctity of the election via vote buying. Furthermore, it is believed that many politicians had already stacked old Naira notes in safe locations to share during the election. Still, they could not use them due to the initiative of the apex bank.
The Importance of Endorsements in Nigerian Politics
In Nigeria, endorsements are crucial to the electoral process and vital to any political campaign. Political parties and politicians leverage endorsements to win over the support of influential persons or groups in society, including political elites, religious leaders, celebrities, and traditional authorities. Moreover, blessings can make or break a candidate’s chances of winning an election as voters’ impressions of a candidate can be significantly influenced as they indicate a candidate’s popularity and readiness for governance.
The 2023 Nigeria Presidential election saw some smaller parties endorse the Presidential candidate of the major political candidates. For instance, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), National Resistance Movement (NRM) publicly endorsed Bola Tinubu of the APC as their adopted candidate for the Presidential election. Again, Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was endorsed by parties like Action Alliance (AA) and Allied People Movement (APM) as their adopted candidate. Furthermore, via its political arm, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) openly endorsed Peter Obi as its anointed Presidential candidate for the 2023 Nigeria Presidential election.
The outcome of the 2023 Presidential election saw Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared the winner. And this can be attributed to his support and endorsements from supposed political opponents. For instance, Tinubu won Rivers and Oyo States, the strongholds of the PDP, due to the blessing he got from their governors. However, please remember that the G-5 (aggrieved Governors under the platform of the PDP) declined their support for their party.
The Changing Sociological Demographics of Nigeria’s Politics
One notable factor that played a significant role in the 2023 Nigeria Presidential Election was the changing sociological demographics of the country’s politics. There was an increased participation of young voters in the 2023 election compared to previous elections. According to data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 37,060,399 registered voters, representing 39.65% of the total registered voters, were youths between 18 and 34. This number was higher than that of middle-aged persons, representing 35.75%; elderly voters, 18.94%; and senior citizens aged 70 and above, representing 5.66%.
The involvement of youths in the election was significant, as many of them supported the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi. In particular, Obi won the APC-led Lagos State, the home base of the All Progressive Congress candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. With the large turnout of young voters, they were able to make their voices heard and formed a significant chunk of voters across the country.
Unfortunately, the influence of social media and technology cannot be ignored in this regard. With the widespread use of technology and social media, young voters could stay informed about the electoral process, track electoral activities nationwide, and engage in political discussions. The ease of information access also helped mobilise and engage young voters in the electoral process.
The Electoral Act, 2022 and BVAS
Another factor that contributed to the success of the 2023 Nigeria Presidential Election was the implementation of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
The Electoral Act 2022 was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari to regulate the conduct of General Elections in Nigeria. The provisions of the Act were instrumental to notable changes observed during the election. One significant change was cancelling results in polling units where ballot box snatching occurred. This provision made it practically useless for individuals to engage in ballot box snatching and increased the credibility of the electioneering process.
Furthermore, the BVAS was introduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2021 to improve the accreditation of voters during the election. The machine was used to read Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and accredit voters using their fingerprints. The introduction of the BVAS was crucial in curbing manipulations carried out during the accreditations of voters, thus increasing the credibility of the electoral process.
The combination of the Electoral Act 2022 and the introduction of BVAS helped ensure the success of the 2023 Nigeria Presidential Election. Implementing these measures helped minimise instances of electoral malpractice and increase the credibility of the electioneering process.
In conclusion, the 2023 Nigeria Presidential Election was a success, with many factors contributing to its outcome. For example, implementing the Electoral Act 2022 ad introducing the BVAS was instrumental in ensuring the election’s credibility. In addition, the changing sociological demographics of Nigeria’s politics highlighted the importance of engaging young voters in the electoral process. These factors, along with others not mentioned in this article, were crucial to the election’s success, and it is essential to build on them for future elections.