​Last day of campaigning in Nigeria before polls

Nigeria’s presidential candidates wrapped up their election campaigns on Thursday, making a final pitch to voters before Africa’s most populous country heads to the polls.

President Muhammadu Buhari addressed crowds of supporters in his home state of Katsina in the northwest, while his main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, held his last rally in his native Adamawa, in the northeast.

Buhari, 76, is seeking a second, four-year term of office on Saturday but is facing a strong challenge from Abubakar, 72, who has campaigned largely against the president’s record in office.

There has been little or no reliable opinion polling but observers expect a close race, with results expected from early next week.

Some voters said they were faced with a stark choice between two ageing candidates of the political establishment who were becoming ill-suited to an increasingly young electorate.

Just over half (51%) of the 84-million registered voters are aged 18 to 35.

“It’s about time these old people go,” said Modibbo Sadiq, a 23-year-old university graduate, in the Adamawa state capital, Yola.

“The same people who come out for Buhari are the same who come for Atiku,” he told AFP.

Video messages

In what he called a “state-of-the-nation address”, Abubakar said Buhari had failed to address insecurity, led a one-sided anti-corruption campaign and weakened the economy.

“Nigeria cannot survive another four years of this misdirection and maladministration,” he said, declaring that Buhari’s re-election would spell “disaster” for Nigeria.

Despite his age, Abubakar, a former vice-president and businessman representing the Peoples Democratic Party, has tried to appeal to younger voters.

Part of his campaign strategy has been to publish his manifesto entirely in emojis.

Former military man Buhari meanwhile issued a video message in which he conceded his time in office “has not been an easy journey”.

But he maintained the government had made “great progress”.

“Some of these achievements are visible for everyone to see. Some are still in the works,” he said, asking for support “to consolidate” the progress so far.

Port Harcourt clashes

Buhari, Abubakar and some 70 other presidential candidates on Wednesday signed a “peace accord” and promised to accept the result.

But on Thursday, APC supporters in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt clashed with police as they tried to storm the local Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office.

Police fired teargas and the crowd dispersed, an AFP correspondent said.

The protest follows a Supreme Court ruling that upheld a ban on the APC fielding candidates in Saturday’s parliamentary elections or the vote for a new governor on March 2.

In-fighting in the local party saw two separate primaries held to choose candidates and competing court cases to determine the legitimacy of one or the other.

The apex court said neither was valid while INEC says the deadline has passed for the submission of candidates.

Rivers state, of which Port Harcourt is the capital, has long been a flashpoint for political violence: in 2015, there were APC protests at the election results and claims of rigging.

On a national level, there have been warning that both main parties could try to rig by buying biometric cards needed by voters to cast their ballot.

In the northern city of Kano, police said two men were arrested in possession of 14 bags of specimen ballot papers, which they said they were taking to neighbouring Jigawa state.

In the southeastern state of Abia, meanwhile, INEC officials brushed off concerns about the effect of a fire at one of its offices that destroyed 4,965 voter card readers.

The blaze was the third in 12 days. The machines are used to verify biometric details of those on the electoral register to enable them to vote.

Boko Haram

The threat of attack from Boko Haram Islamists loomed large over the last elections in 2015 and fears persist that the jihadists could again attempt to disrupt the vote.

On Tuesday, four people were killed in a Boko Haram ambush on a convoy of vehicles carrying the outgoing governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, as he headed to campaign meetings.

Shettima called the attack a publicity stunt “to attract local and global media attention”.

Concerns meanwhile have been expressed about the ability to vote of some of the 1.8-million people made homeless by the conflict.

Ten polling stations have been set up for some 400 000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Borno while three sites will be open for “IDP voting” in neighbouring Adamawa, INEC said.

© Agence France-Presse

Ola Awoniyi
Ola Awoniyi
Journalist at AFP.
Agoi Joel Olatunde
Joel Olatunde Agoi
Journalist AFP Lagos Bureau.
Aminu Abubakar
Aminu Abubakar
Aminu Abubakar is a journalist based in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, where he grew up. He worked for local newspapers before joining Agence France-Presse (AFP) in 2000 as a freelance correspondent covering northern Nigeria.
Chris Stein
Chris Stein
@AFP journalist covering Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and the African Union.
Celia Lebur
Celia Lebur works from Lagos, Nigeria. AFP reporter for Western Africa Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Togo. Tweets are my own. Celia Lebur has over 1307 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

Workers fight job-creation ‘mess’

Former Ekurhuleni workers argued in court that a programme promising to equip them with skills simply acted as a labour broker for the municipality

Court dissolves local municipality

Landmark judgment paves the way for South Africans to use legal system to hold councils responsible

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.