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Key issues Nigerians set to consider in elections

Friday February 15 2019

elections

Supporters attend the final campaign rally of the Nigerian opposition Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar on February 14, 2019 at Ribadu Square in eastern Nigeria, ahead of elections on February 16. PHOTO | LUIS TATO | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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LAGOS

In Nigeria, it is often said that no figure is verifiable unless it is the price of a barrel of crude oil.

AFP has put together some key numbers ahead of Saturday's election, in which President Muhammadu Buhari's bid for a second term is being challenged by opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar.

POPULATION

The only way for a presidential candidate to secure a first-round win and avoid a run-off: Candidates need to have won the most votes and at least 25 percent support in two thirds of Nigeria's 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

The latter measure was implemented to ensure that all presidents have at least some nationwide support in a country divided by religion and ethnicity.

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Whoever wins will govern about 190 million Nigerians. But even that figure is an estimation, as the last census was conducted in 2006.

One thing is certain -- Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and one of the fastest growing in the world, with predictions there could be 410 million Nigerians by 2050.

That would make it the world's third-most-populous nation behind China and India.

The new president will have to find employment for increasing numbers of young people and cut the world record 87 million people -- about 45 percent of the population -- living in extreme poverty.

According to the World Poverty Clock, that figure could climb to 120 million by 2030.

AGE

The ages of Buhari and Abubakar respectively: But the opposition maintains Buhari is older than 76.

On his 75th birthday in 2017, the president even said: "I thought I was 74 but was told I'm 75."

His opponent Atiku, as he is called in Nigeria, has targeted the 18-35 age group, who makes up precisely 51.11 percent of the 84,004,084 registered voters.

He even published a version of his manifesto entirely in emojis. But do not call either candidate "old".

US television channel CNN did, prompting outrage on Twitter and the observation that President Donald Trump is... 72.

DEMOCRACY

Only once has power changed hands in Nigeria via the ballot box, when Buhari beat President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

The last election took place largely without the deadly violence that characterised the other four since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.

ECONOMY

Nigeria's economy grew at a rate of just 1.9 percent in 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, and should continue its upward trend.

The World Bank estimates the upward momentum to be at 2.2 percent this year.

It is a far cry from the double-digit growth of the early 2000s, when the price of crude topped $100 (Ksh10,000) a barrel.

By the sheer size of its population, the west African giant remains Africa's biggest economy, ahead of South Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund.

True to form, though, even this fluctuates and depends on how it is calculated and which exchange rate is used to convert nairas to US dollars.

WEALTH

Despite the downturn, Nigeria is adding dollar millionaires at the fastest rate in the world.

According to research firm Wealth-X, the number of people in the country with a net worth of $1 million or more will grow by 16.3 percent per year until 2023.

That is the highest rate in the world, and significantly more than second-place Egypt at 12.5 percent.

With some 1.8 million barrels a day, Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer.

But even here there is doubt and the figure could be much higher given discrepancies between declared and actual production, to which the rise in millionaires may well be closely related.