How elections are conducted in Nigeria

The process of conducting elections in Nigeria is governed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act.

Nigeria operates a presidential system of government, and as such, presidential and parliamentary elections are held separately but simultaneously. Presidential elections are held every four years, while parliamentary elections are held every four years and half a term.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the electoral body responsible for conducting elections in Nigeria. The Commission is independent and has the constitutional mandate to conduct elections and ensure they are free, fair, and credible.

The first step in the election process is voter registration.

Voter registration is conducted by INEC and is open to all Nigerian citizens who are 18 years of age and above.

The registration process includes the capturing of the voter’s personal details, as well as photographs and fingerprints. After the registration process, INEC issues a Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) to eligible voters. The PVC serves as proof of voter registration and is required to participate in the election.

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Once voter registration is complete, INEC conducts the nomination of candidates. Presidential and National Assembly candidates are nominated by political parties, while state assembly and governorship candidates are nominated by their respective political parties. The nominated candidates are then vetted by INEC to ensure they meet the constitutional requirements for holding the office they seek.

The campaign period follows the nomination of candidates. During this period, candidates are allowed to campaign, hold rallies, and make public appearances to solicit votes.

Campaigning is usually a very active period, with candidates travelling all over the country to reach voters. The campaign period is closely monitored by INEC and other stakeholders to ensure that it is conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner.

Voting takes place on election day. On this day, polling units are set up across the country, and voters are required to present their PVCs at the polling unit to vote.

Voters are given the option to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice, as well as the candidate for the National Assembly, State Assembly, and Governorship positions in their respective constituencies.

Polling units are usually open from 8 AM to 2 PM on the day of the election.

After the close of voting, the results from the polling units are collected and collated at the ward, local government, and state levels. The results are then sent to the INEC headquarters for the final collation and announcement of the results.



    INEC is responsible for announcing the results of the election, and the candidate with the majority of the votes is declared the winner.

    In case of a dispute, candidates have the right to file a petition to the election tribunals to challenge the results of the election. The tribunals are set up by INEC and are responsible for hearing and determining election disputes. The decision of the tribunals is final and binding and can be appealed to the Supreme Court only on points of law.

    Nigeria is a country with a diverse population and a variety of ethnicity and cultures, so the process of conducting elections have been, in the recent past, prone to many challenges like violence, rigging, logistic, security, the politicisation of the process etc.

    However, INEC has been working to improve the electoral process, including enhancing transparency and increasing citizen participation.

    Esther Ilesanmi is a Multimedia Journalist with The International Centre of Investigative Reporting.

    She is also a Social Media Manager and Trainer who teaches others how to maximize social media effectively.

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