General elections in Nigeria that will be held on March 28th, 2015, are greatly significant as they could be the first contested elections with a viable opposition since the end of military rule in 1999. All the media in the country and all around the world are watching as the day of the elections approaches and we get constant updates on key figures, on power structures, most important developments, and some try to make predictions on what would the elections bring and what will the numbers be.
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Since the end of the military rule in 1999, the PDP (People’s Democratic Party) in Nigeria ruled almost without any opposition. There are indeed, 25 parties registered at the INEC (Indepentent National Electoral Commission), however only a few are noticeable. Right now, the APC party (All Progressives Congress) is perhaps the only real threat to PDP, yet it still has some tough internal issues to solve.
In order for the elections to go smoothly and for Nigeria to move forward to a new start, whoever the people of Nigeria elect as the next president, there are three main points for all to watch, the activity of INEC, possible election-related violence and money trouble.
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Elections will go well when the INEC performs at its best to organize the election process as it should be. In the statement released on February 7th, the elections were postponed from February 28th to one month later, March 28th. According to the statement, postponing was chosen due to security concerns of the INEC and of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). This points to the second problem – possible security and safety issues for the personnel involved in the elections, the voters at the polling stations, and observers from Nigeria as well as outsides.
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The state elections have been postponed as well to be held on April 11th, 2015. The reason for security concern is obvious for most of Nigerians – in order to keep the voters from reaching polling stations, armed thugs in most volatile regions could increase their activity. The three states where the insurgents have been most active (Borno, Yobe and Adamawa) have been considered to be an impossible place for elections to be held. Still, these states’ governors expressed no such concern and argued that the violence had been reduced greatly over there. What may concern most is what might happen there if the power that controls those states is not pleased with the results of the elections.
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It is no secret that falling exchange rates often come at the same time with the elections. The amount of money the government spends on ensuring fair and honest elections often leads to higher demand for US Dollars as people suspect higher inflation. Meanwhile the Central Bank promised to focus its attention on anti-money laundering watch and bank speculations.
All in all, the smoother the elections go this year, the higher the chances are for Nigeria to develop into a fully democratic country with high potential.