Speed Reads

Decision Time

Nigerians head to the polls to elect new president

Millions headed to the polls on Saturday to vote in Nigeria's presidential and parliamentary election, which could have ripple effects across the country and the African continent. 

Nigerians will look to change their nation's fortunes with a new government after the current leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, announced he would step down after serving two terms. Despite having the largest economy in Africa, per StatistaNigeria has been fraught with financial hardships and rising levels of violence under Buhari's tenure. 

Nigeria "is struggling with Islamist insurgencies in the northeast, an epidemic of kidnappings for ransom, conflict between herders and farmers, shortages of cash, fuel, and power, as well as deep-rooted corruption and poverty," per ReutersAn additional poll cited by The New York Times found that 89 percent of Nigerians felt their country was going in the wrong direction. 

The two main candidates to succeed Buhari are Bola Tinubu from Nigeria's ruling All Progressives Congress, and Atiku Abubakar from the opposition People's Democratic Party. However, this year's election has another major contender, Peter Obi, a third-party candidate from the Labor Party. 

The Times noted that Obi was leading in numerous polls heading into the election. His victory would be considered a major upset, NPR added. However, there are also a large number of undeclared voters, which could swing the election back toward one of the major party candidates. 

Election day got off to a rocky start. While polls were scheduled to open across the country at 8:30 a.m. local time, many had delayed starts. Nigerian newspaper The Punch reported this was due to "insecurity in some states [that] led to delays as well as logistics issues."