Nigeria 2023: Where will the battle be won and lost?

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Nigeria 2023: The battleground states

By Eniola Akinkuotu
Posted on Wednesday, 25 January 2023 14:22, updated on Monday, 30 January 2023 14:59

About 93.4 million Nigerian voters scattered across the 36 states and the nation’s capital will next month elect a new president. However, each state has its own peculiarity and voting patterns that can shape the overall outcome of a poll. Read on for our 8-part series on the key swing states, and the political personalities who define them.

This is part 1 of a 9-part series

This particular election is a three-horse race, with a new challenger, Peter Obi, shaking up the established order.

A kaleidoscope of political possibilities has opened up as a result, with history not necessarily a useful guide to what comes next.

For example, in Rivers State in 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 1.4 million votes in the presidential election compared to 69,238 votes for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Nyesom Wike, a minister at the time, played a key role in the victory of the PDP in the state. However, as governor, he is currently doing the exact opposite.

Having fallen out with the PDP over who should be the presidential candidate, he has vowed to ensure that the PDP loses the presidential poll in Rivers State, even though he is still a member of the party.

Struggle for the grand prize

This typifies the fluidity and unpredictability of Nigerian politics in these polls, and the same can be seen in many other states.

Public commentators and security experts tell The Africa Report of an array of complicating factors for those hoping to pick winners:

  • how the youth will respond to Peter Obi’s candidacy,
  • the rise in regional identity politics,
  • general insecurity
  • and an unprecedented crisis in the opposition PDP.

At least eight states may witness a surge in violence as Bola Tinubu of the APC, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Labour Party’s Peter Obi struggle for the grand prize.

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