Voters in Africa’s most populous country are due to go to the polls on February 25, 2023, when President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term ends, as stipulated in the Constitution.

Twenty personalities in the running in this primary hope to become the candidate of the Congress of Progressives (APC) for this election, one of the main issues of which will be the question of security, in this country bruised by criminal and jihadist violence.

The massacre of 22 people on Sunday in a church in the south-west of the country, a region that has almost been spared from violence, is a cruel reminder of this.

After the arrival late Tuesday afternoon of some 2,300 APC delegates, President Buhari, in traditional sky blue attire, entered Eagle Square, the location chosen for the primary.

The main party leaders and the candidates then took the podium, before a speech by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He called on “party members, especially officials and delegates, to abide by applicable laws and regulations and vote for the presidential candidate with the best chance of securing victory” for his party in February 2023.

Voting for delegates started around 01:00 GMT. The name of the winner should be known later in the night.

Around Eagle Square, hundreds of activists wearing the party colors – green, white, blue and red – had massed since morning along the avenues, waving flags and shouting the name of their favorite, according to reports. AFP journalists.

– Generalized insecurity –

Among the APC’s main candidates are the party’s historic leader, Bola Tinubu, current Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi and Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

President Muhammadu Buhari has not given public support to any particular candidate.

In his speech, however, the president asked the delegates to “choose a defender of the nation, intelligent and fair” endowed with “the strength of character to move the country forward”, a candidate capable of blocking the way to that of the PDP .

The main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has already chosen its candidate last week, in the person of Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president and wealthy businessman from the North, who is running for the sixth time in three decades as president.

The appointment has accentuated internal divisions within the APC, as the PDP has failed to respect “Zoning”, a tacit agreement in Nigeria that the presidency must alternate every two terms between a candidate from the north, mainly Muslim. , and the south, predominantly Christian.

This agreement aims to maintain balance in a country which has more than 250 ethnic groups and where inter-community tensions are frequent.

But Mr. Abubakar is a Muslim from the North, just like President Muhammadu Buhari.

Among the main candidates of the APC, Bola Tinubu and Ahmad Lawan are both Muslims, respectively originating from the south and the north. The other two, Yemi Osinbajo and Rotimi Amaechi, are Christians and from the south.

Mr Abubakar and the nominated APC candidate will face off, among others, for the presidency of a country plagued by widespread insecurity, from the jihadist insurgency in the northeast to criminal gangs ravaging the North-West and the center, passing through separatist movements in the South-East.

The economy is also a major subject in Nigeria, which has 215 million inhabitants, 83 million of whom live below the extreme poverty line (1.90 US dollars per day and per person), according to the organization’s latest census. World Poverty Clock.

Africa’s largest economy, weakened by the coronavirus pandemic, is now bearing the fallout from the war in Ukraine, which has driven up fuel and food prices across the continent.