Contenders for Nigeria’s president and national parliamentary seats concluded their campaign rallies Tuesday ahead of Feb. 25 general elections.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), closed his campaign with a mega rally in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populated city and commercial hub. He was Lagos state governor from 1999 to 2007, a credential he has flaunted often at his campaign rallies since December last year.
“I’m aware of the suffering of Nigerians and I will bring you joy,” Tinubu pledged in northeast Maiduguri last Saturday, a promise he also repeated in Lagos on Tuesday at the party’s mega campaign.
His biggest challengers — Atiku Abubakar of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi — have ended their rallies with promises to restructure the country, tackle insecurity, drive the economy with private participation and restore peace and unity.
“I will restore peace and unity in the country. I will tackle insecurity and bring sanity to our economy,” 76-year-old Abubakar said in northeast Yola, his hometown, while concluding his presidential campaign ahead of the Saturday poll.
Aside from these three leading candidates who have been cross-crossing the 36 states of the country canvassing for votes, other presidential contenders have conducted their campaigns through engagements with groups in Abuja, the nation’s capital, and through social media platforms.
Around 94 million voters are expected to make their choice among the 18 presidential candidates vying for the country’s presidency, according to Nigeria’s election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Likewise, Obi at several campaign rallies across the country assured of job creation and private participation in the economy.
Nigerians say they are concerned about security during the polls amid protests over naira note shortages and petrol scarcity in parts of the country this week.
Blessing Tumor, a local observer and independent journalist, said she believed the electoral commission will ensure fair polls while security agencies guarantee free elections.
“There are no major changes in the conduct of the election capable of causing chaos or bottlenecks. So our expectation is that previous elections should serve as a dress rehearsal for the electoral umpire,” she told Anadolu.
A total of 910,973 police personnel have been deployed to various parts of the country, said Usman Alkali Baba, Nigeria’s Police Chief. He said police will escort election materials and provide security at polling booths.
Likewise the Commonwealth has sent a team of election observers led by South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki to monitor the exercise on Saturday.
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) is also deploying about 100 observers to Nigeria, said EU-EOM Chief Observer Barry Andrews.
Andrews assured that the mission would not interfere with the electoral process but only help the electoral body deliver a credible election.
Nigerians say they are hopeful that the election will give them a new leader to address the country’s multiple challenges, including terrorism, banditry, inflation and unemployment.
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