Two major West African states, Nigeria and Senegal will choose leaders this weekend.
Tomorrow, Saturday, 84 million Nigerians are expected to turn out and elect a new president, vice president and Members of the National Assembly. It will be the sixth quadrennial elections since the end of military rule in 1999.
President Muhammadu Buhari, 76, is seeking re-election and is up against his former ally turned rival Atiku Abubakar, 72, who served as Nigeria’s vice president between 1999 and 2007.
Buhari is again running on his anti-corruption message while Atiku is promising to fix Nigeria’s under-performing economy and tackle high unemployment. But with an increasingly discerning electorate, largely consisting of young voters who are more vocal about the shortcomings of the political establishment, “third force” candidates like #BringBackOurGirls activist Oby Ezekwesili will be hoping to cause an upset.
The president of Nigeria is elected using a simple majority of votes cast, as well as over 25% of the votes in 27 of the 36 states.
The 360 members of the House of Representatives are elected to four-year terms, concurrent with the president, using first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies.
The 109 members of the Senate are elected to four-year terms, concurrent with the president, from 108 single-seat constituencies into which the States are divided (three each) and one single-seat constituency consisting the Federal Capital Territory, all by first-past-the-post voting.
On Sunday, 6.6 million Senegalese will choose between incumbent President Macky Sall and four others including Ousmane Sonko, the rising star of Senegalese politics. Ahead of the election, last month, two opposition leaders Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, were barred from participating because of convictions for misuse of public funds.
The president of Senegal is elected using the two-round system; a candidate must receive over 50% of the vote to be elected in the first round. If no candidate crosses the threshold, a second round will be held with the top two candidates.
President Macky Sall will be seeking a second term in office with a focus on economic growth. The 57-year-old former geologist kickstarted his presidency in 2012 by launching the ambitious Plan for Emerging Senegal, which aims to transform key sectors from agriculture to healthcare, public administration and education by 2035.
In a 2016 referendum, Senegal voted to reduce presidential terms to five years from seven years, a proposal promised and backed by President Sall. His re-election prospect was boosted by the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar coalition’s sweeping parliamentary victory in Augusts 2017.
About 15,000 Senegalese in The Gambia are expected to cast ballots at polling stations in the country.