With Buhari’s time in office coming to an end, here’s what to know about Nigeria’s elections

With less than six months to the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s term in office, Nigerians will head to the polls on February 25, 2022, to elect a new president.

Apart from voting for the President, Nigerians will also be voting to elect members of the National Assembly (senate and the house of representatives), State governors – aside from states with off-cycle elections Kogi, Anambra, Ekiti, Osun, Bayelsa, Imo, Edo, Ondo –  and members of State Assemblies making it five ballot papers in all, but this report will only focus on the Presidential election.

The National Assembly will be held on the same day as the Presidential election, while the Governorship and the State Houses of Assembly will be held on March 11 2023.

Since its independence in 1960, Nigeria has had sixteen dispensations with 14 heads of states/presidents.

Candidates for the 2023 presidential election

Eighteen candidates are running for President in Nigeria this year.

Voters register and Voter turnout 

Nigeria has a voter register of 93.5m voters, according to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu announcement in October 2022.


According to Mahmood, “In terms of demographic distribution, 7.2mn new voters or 76.5 per cent are young people between 18-34 years while there is a slightly higher number of female (4.8m or 50.82 per cent) than male (4.6m or 49.18 per cent) voters. In terms of occupation, 3.8m (40.8 per cent) are students.”

“At the end of the [CVR] exercise, 12,298,944 Nigerians successfully completed the registration as new voters. All along, we have repeatedly assured Nigerians that our process of cleaning up the register is robust,” he said.


He further said, “After a rigorous cleaning-up of the data using the automated biometric identification system (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 (22.6%) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from the record, among them double/multiple registrants, underaged persons and outrightly fake registrations that fail to meet our business rules.”

“Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188.”

“The 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The preliminary register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272.’’

Although the number of Nigerians registering to vote has been increasing, voter turnout in Nigeria has lagged behind the national average since 1999.

Election turnout has been declining steadily since 1999, though there was an increase between the 1999 and 2003 elections from 52 per cent to 69 per cent, according to data on election statistics available since the beginning of democracy in 1999.

Turnout for presidential elections 1999 2019

However, following the 2003 presidential election, turnout in subsequent elections continued to drop, first to 57 per cent in 2007, then to 54 in 2011, and finally to 44 in 2015.

Presidential Election voters turnout (1999 - 2019)
Presidential Election voters turnout (1999 – 2019)

Declining further in 2019, only 34.75 per cent of registered voters cast ballots in the presidential election; according to data from INEC.

How to become Nigeria’s president

Elections have been held every four years in Nigeria by balloting since 1999.

Requirements to be a presidential candidate, according to the 1999 constitution, Chapter VI, Part I, Section 131 of the constitution states that a person may be qualified for election of the office of the president if:

  • They are a citizen of Nigeria by birth;
  • They have attained the age of 35 years;
  • They are a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party;
  • They have been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

A person contesting must also be a member of a political party – this party must be registered with INEC.

Once a member, the person must be nominated as the party flagbearer in the election through the process of the primary election in the party.



    The Electoral Act allows a political party to nominate a candidate by the following means:

    Direct Primaries:

    All registered members of the party vote for the aspirants

    Indirect Primaries:

    Delegates vote for the aspirants


    All cleared aspirants for the position voluntarily withdraw from the race and endorse one candidate, which must be in writing.

    If the above requirement has been met, the next step is the General Election:
    • Section 133 of the constitution provides that if there is only one candidate running, he or she must have obtained a majority of YES votes over NO votes and at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory in order to be considered duly elected (FCT).
    • According to Section 134(1) of the Constitution, if there are only two candidates running for office, one of them must have received a majority of the votes cast in the election and at least a quarter of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory to be considered duly elected (FCT).
    • In accordance with Section 134(2) of the Constitution, the candidate who receives the highest number of votes cast at the election and at least one-quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is deemed to have been duly elected.

    Olayinka works with The ICIR as the Social Media Manager, Reporter and Fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected]. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @BelloYinka72

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