The bleak times of the last eight years in Nigeria’s most populous country and the birth of a “japa” wave
The last eight years have been particularly bleak for many in Africa’s most populous country, estimated at more than 200 million people. The security and economy of the country have evolved into deeper crises.
Two-thirds of the population now live in poverty and almost half of young people are unemployed, with millions of job losses since outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari’s government took office in 2015. The Nigerian currency, the naira, has fallen in value while inflation and oil production have gone up.
Violent insecurity and terrorism, which existed in some parts of the country, have proliferated across swaths of it — reshaping everyday life in profound ways. Terrorists and Islamist groups in the north and central regions of Nigeria are threatening other people. The number of kidnapping attacks around the country has soared, rising as the economy has worsened.
Bleak prospects for a young population with a median age of under 19 have spurred a “japa” wave — rising numbers seeking to leave the country in search of a better life.
A three-generation campaign to oust the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Obi Ubisek Adinawi
There are 18 candidates — with only one woman — but three of them matter most. Two older figures who have dominated politics for a generation and a younger candidate who has blown open the race are the front-runners.
Seventy-year-old Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and one of the most powerful politicians in Nigeria is running for the All Progressives Congress (APC), Buhari’s governing party. He’s a hugely divisive figure because he’s Muslim from the majority of the southwest.
He was governor of Lagos from 1999 to-2007 and is credited with attracting major investment and turning the state into one of the biggest economies in Africa.
He has often been accused of maintaining control of the state’s finances which he helped to build. He’s been accused of being involved in drug-related crimes. He was accused in 1992 of having laundered heroin traffickers’ money, and he eventually settled with the government for $460,000. He denies any wrongdoing.
Yet he has also faced challenges. His candidacy has caused splits in his party, whose presidential candidates usually alternate between northern and southern Nigeria. This time it was expected to be a southerner. He has also been accused of corruption in the U.S. In 2010, Senate investigators alleged one of his four wives helped him transfer more than $40 million in “suspect funds” into the U.S. from offshore corporations. Some of the money was said to have been paid by the German company, and that it pleaded guilty to bribe charges. In the past, Atiku has denied any wrongdoing.
Obi’s followers dubbed themselves “Obidients,” and have lit up the election campaign. Many young people, who participated in the End SARS protests in 2020, are voting for the first time. Most polls predict he will win, but he’s still an underdog to defeat two larger and wealthier political parties, who are more established across the entire country.
It’s possible that the election will go to a second vote, which is something never before done in Nigerian history. A candidate has to get at least 25% of the votes in 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states to win an election. All of the candidates have strong support in some spots but are not immune to challenges in others. The fact that the race will likely come down to three main candidates adds to the possibility of a runoff.
It is possible, but don’t rule out a late postponement. Both of the last two elections were postponed. In 2019, this was announced just hours before polls opened, with officials citing insecurity in parts of the country. In the southeast, armed groups have stepped up attacks on police and election materials, which appears to be a bigger challenge than before.
Tinubu: An Enigma, Not a Single Winner of the 2019 State Presidential Elections in Nigeria (IGURURURUWAWA/Niger)
Tinubu was declared the winner of the presidential elections in Nigeria, beating out the other two candidates. It came three days later after criticism from observers for a number of logistical problems, violence that suppressed the vote and cries of a sham.
He won a small percentage of the vote in one of the largest polls since the end of military rule. He lost in his home state but won by a clear margin in the rest of the country defeating 76-year-old Atiku Abubakar, a six-time presidential contestant, and 61-year-old Peter Obi, a third-party candidate who galvanized huge support from voters disaffected with the traditional political class.
Tinubu is at once one of the most well-known politicians in the country and also an enigma, dogged by questions about the source of his wealth, his age and his health.
Lagos is hampered by a lack of affordable housing and inequality according to his detractors. He claims to have made millions, but the company said he wasn’t employed and hadn’t worked in years.