Nigeria's tense election campaign ends with appeals for cal

Over 93 million Nigerians have registered to vote for the polls but those who are not within the borders of Africa's largest economy will not be afforded the opportunity to choose a leader.

Feb 24, 2023 - 22:35
Nigeria's tense election campaign ends with appeals for cal
A man walks past campaign posters of All Progressive Congress (APC) leader, Bola Tinubu, outside the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on 21 February 2023 ahead of the ahead of the Nigerian presidential election scheduled for 25 February 2023. Picture: Michele Spatari/AFP

LAGOS - US, European and other governments on Thursday urged Nigeria to ensure a peaceful presidential election this weekend as skirmishes broke out in a key city on the last day of campaigning.

More than 93 million Nigerians are registered to vote on Saturday in what has developed into a tense, competitive race among three presidential frontrunners for the first time since military rule ended in 1999.

After two terms under President Muhammadu Buhari, who is stepping down, Africa's most populous nation is grappling with widespread insecurity from various armed groups, high inflation and growing poverty.

Thursday was the final day of campaigning for the presidential, senate and parliamentary elections.

"It is vital for Nigeria's stability and democratic consolidation that the process is conducted and concluded safely, fairly and credibly," said a joint statement from the diplomatic missions of the United States, Britain, Australia, Japan, Canada and Norway.

"We encourage all actors to intervene proactively to calm any tensions and avoid any violence."

Nigeria's elections have been marked by violence, ethnic tensions, vote-buying and clashes between supporters of rival parties.

Fighting broke out in the northwestern city of Kano on Thursday when mobs attacked supporters of Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former Kano governor and a presidential candidate for the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

Cars of NNPP supporters were burned and several were injured when they were attacked by a mob wielding machetes and clubs, NNPP members said.

Kano State, with the second-largest number of registered voters after Lagos at nearly 6 million, is a highly contested region.

Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the violence.