Nigerian general election, 2015

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Nigerian general elections, 2015

← 2011 28–29 March 2015 2019 →

68,833,476 registered voters[1]
25% in each of 2/3 States + Majority[2] votes needed to win
Opinion polls
Turnout 43.65%[3]

  Muhammadu Buhari with John Kerry (cropped).jpg Goodluck Jonathan 2014.jpg
Nominee Muhammadu Buhari Goodluck Jonathan
Party APC PDP
Running mate Yemi Osinbajo Namadi Sambo
Popular vote 15,424,921 12,853,162
Percentage 53.96% 44.96%

Nigeria presidential election 2015 - blue and green.svg
States won by Jonathan (in green) and Buhari (blue)

President before election

Goodluck Jonathan
PDP

Elected President

Muhammadu Buhari
APC

Coat of arms of Nigeria.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Nigeria

General elections were held in Nigeria on 28 and 29 March 2015, the fifth quadrennial election to be held since the end of military rule in 1999.[4] Voters elected the President and members to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan sought his second and final term.

The elections were first scheduled to be held on 14 February 2015. However, the electoral commission postponed it by six weeks to 28 March, mainly due to the poor distribution of Permanent Voter Cards, and also to curb ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in certain north-eastern states.[5] The government closed its land and sea borders from midnight on 25 March until the end of the polling date.[6] The election was extended to 29 March due to delays and technical problems with the biometric card readers.[7]

It was the most expensive election ever to be held on the African continent.[8] Nigeria is the continent's most populous country, has its largest economy and is its leading oil producer. Opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election by more than 2.5 million votes.[9] Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat on 31 March, before the results from all 36 states had been announced.[10] The election marks the first time an incumbent president has lost re-election in Nigeria. The President-elect was sworn-in on 29 May 2015.

Presidential election[edit]

Article 134 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution stipulates that a presidential candidate will be duly elected after attaining both the highest number of votes cast, and having received at least a quarter of the votes at each of at least two-thirds of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). If no candidate satisfies the requirement, a second election will be held between the two leading candidates within seven days from the pronouncement of the result.[11]

Party primaries[edit]

PDP[edit]

It had long been assumed that incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan would run for re-election, as despite declining approval ratings, he was still thought to be popular and had several high-profile supporters.[12] Jonathan officially confirmed his candidacy on 11 November at a rally in Abuja, announcing to cheering supporters:[13]

"After seeking the face of God, and in the quiet of my family, and after listening to the clarion call of Nigerians, I have accepted to present myself to serve a second term."

Jonathan ran unopposed in the People's Democratic Party (PDP) primaries on 10 December 2014, receiving the nomination of the party. However, this was against an unwritten rule that the PDP's presidential candidacy should alternate between Muslim northerners and Christian southerners, and opposition to Jonathan's candidacy had led to the defection of dozens of PDP MPs in the House of Representatives.[14]

APC[edit]

Prior to the elections,[when?] the All Progressives Congress was formed as an alliance of four opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance.[citation needed]

Its primaries, also held on 10 December, were won by retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari,[14] who defeated Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and newspaper editor Sam Nda Isaiah.[15] On 17 December, APC chose Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the running mate of General M. Buhari.[citation needed]

As of February 2015, "Though the APC's voter base is in the north, it enjoys support all over the country, unlike the opposition in 2011."[16]

Candidate Votes %
Muhammadu Buhari 3,430 57.2
Rabiu Kwankwaso 974 16.3
Atiku Abubakar 954 15.9
Rochas Okorocha 400 10.4
Sam Nda Isaiah 10 0.2
Total 5,992 100
Source: Nigerian Eye

Presidential Debate[edit]

A presidential and Vice presidential Debate was conducted by the Nigerian media with majority of the candidates attending. The debate was attended by the then incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan, and his vice Namadi Sambo, while as predicted, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari boycotted the debate while his vice presidential nominee attended. The debate which lasted for approximately an hour was watched by over 20 million people in Nigeria, with radios and the Internet conveying through other means.

Candidates[edit]

Fourteen candidates contested the election.[17]

The main opposition Goodluck Jonathan faced was from Muhammadu Buhari of the APC. While inaugurating a 250-bed Orthopaedic Hospital in Wamakko, Buhari said: “We will stop corruption and make the ordinary people, the weak and the vulnerable our top priority.”[18]

General Muhammadu Buhari holding a broom at a campaign rally.
Nominee Running mate Party Acronym
Allagoa Chinedu Arabamhen Mary Peoples Party of Nigeria PPN
Ambrose Albert Owuru[19] Haruna Shaba Hope Party HOPE
Adebayo Musa Ayeni[19] Anthony Ologbosere African Peoples Alliance APA
Chekwas Okorie[19] Bello Umar United Progressive Party UPP
Comfort Oluremi Sonaiya[19] Seidu Bobboi KOWA Party KOWA
Ganiyu Galadima[19] Ojengbede Farida Allied Congress Party of Nigeria ACPN
Godson Okoye[19] Haruna Adamu United Democratic Party UDP
Goodluck Jonathan[19] Namadi Sambo People's Democratic Party PDP
Mani Ahmad Obianuju Murphy-Uzohue African Democratic Congress ADC
Martin Onovo[19] Ibrahim Mohammed National Conscience Party NCP
Muhammadu Buhari[19] Yemi Osinbajo All Progressives Congress APC
Rufus Salawu[19] Akuchie Cliff Alliance for Democracy AD
Sam Eke[19] Hassana Hassan Citizens Popular Party CPP
Tunde Anifowose-Kelani[19] Ishaka Ofemile Accord Alliance AA

Conduct[edit]

After a botched governor's election in Anambra State, there were serious concerns that the election would not go smoothly. The country's election commission had promised a better election process, hoping that combating electoral fraud would prevent the violence that had plagued previous Nigerian elections.[12] Despite this, a pre-election poll by Gallup noted that only 13% of Nigerians had confidence in the honesty of elections.[20]

The Socialist Party of Nigeria filed for registration as a political party to contest the election, but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refused the registration. The SPN sued the INEC at the Federal High Court, claiming that INEC had failed to respond to their petition within 30 days as prescribed by law and that thus it would have to be registered automatically.[21]

The presidential election was a trending topic in Nigeria on Twitter, one social media platform reflecting public opinion; although PDP/GEJ may simply have had better support on social media, which is not representative of the population as a whole. According to Impact Social, based on data from 40,000 tweets, Facebook messages, blogs, and other internet outlets that mention PDP or GEJ, 70% of public opinion toward President Jonathan is positive, but messaging on the economy has taken up 6% of election conversation and was seen as a key PDP strength. Social media support for Buhari/APC was a bit "noisier" without a single issue leveraged by the campaign to gain traction: there was general frustration that the campaign lacked consistency, content and focus on the important issues at hand.[22]

In January 2015, the #bringbackourgirls campaign raised alarm over plans by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to exclude Chibok and some communities currently under the control of the Boko Haram from getting the permanent voter cards (PVCs) for the February elections.[23] Jonathan's already controversial handling of the situation was exacerbated by the Twitter campaign that was launched in mid 2014, #BringBackJonathan2015, which was widely considered to be insensitive to the victims and their families. Jonathan eventually called for banners containing the hashtag to be taken down and asked for the hashtag to not be used.[24]

Postponement[edit]

On 8 February 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission announced that "presidential and national assembly elections will now hold on 28 March while the governorship and state assemblies election will take place on 11 April,[25]" mainly due to the poor distribution of Permanent Voter Cards, and also the security concerns related to the Boko Haram insurgency in certain north eastern states.

The postponement was called on the grounds of the INEC failing to deliver Permanent Voters' Cards to millions (around 34%) of voters – reportedly only around 45.1mn of 68.8mn registered voters had received PVC's. Additionally, on 5 February, the National Council of State (chaired by President Jonathan) told INEC that it had just launched a major, decisive offensive against Boko Haram for six weeks. Due to the assets and resources that would go into this offensive, the military would be unable to provide security and logistics support for elections. This is a disputable claim, since election security is the primary responsibility of not the military (which should only act as support) but the police and civil defence corps. There is speculation over whether or not the postponement was motivated by politics rather than security and has raised questions over the political neutrality of the military as well as the independence of INEC.[26]

[27] Sambo Dasuki, Nigerian national security advisor, told the commission "that operations against Boko Haram militants meant the military "will be unable to provide adequate security" for the 14 February vote."[28] "Seventeen out of the 28 registered political parties" supported postponing the elections; 12 opposed, "including the leading opposition party, All Progressives Congress".[29] By 30 January, "Boko Haram was in total occupation/complete control of 13 local governments (and other swathes of land) in Borno and 2 each in Yobe and Adamawa."[30] Critics of the postponement view it as a political move on behalf of GEJ/PDP rather than one made in the interest of national security. GEJ/PDP are losing traction due to gains by Boko Haram in January, economic strains from the slide in global oil price (Nigeria’s key export), and GEJ/PDP’s slow progress on fighting corruption and improving infrastructure. According to primaries in December 2014, Buhari/APC is viewed as more equipped to fight insecurity and corruption.

Critics have pointed out that even with the postponement, the Nigerian government is unlikely to re-establish control in all the affected areas by the date of the election. Distribution of the Permanent Voters' Card (PVC) has begun in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the three affected states. Estimates of the number of IDPs range from 868,235 to 1.5 million people, and is not yet clear how successful efforts will be to organise elections under these circumstances.[30] Key Government officials in Nigeria are publicly stating their opposition to the postponement. Senator Chris Ngige, for example, has accused the PDP of pressuring INEC to postpone the general elections.[31]

US Secretary of State meeting the two leading candidates.

In addition to growing criticism within Nigeria, on 8 February Vanguard reported that "the United States said it was 'deeply disappointed' by the delay." US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had urged that elections be held on time, "[warned] the Nigerian government against using 'security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.'"[32] Additionally, the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, has revealed that he, too, is disgruntled by the news: “The security situation should not be used as a reason to deny the Nigerian people from exercising their democratic rights. It is vital that the elections are kept on track and held as soon as possible.” [33] Deutsche Welle reported that "The postponement has been seen by critics as a ploy by President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) to buy time to sway support from the popular main opposition candidate and former military dictator, Muhammadu Buhari."[28]

By 7 February 2015, threats of post-election violence from both sides remained a concern, given that hundreds of people died in the rioting that followed the 2011 Nigerian presidential election,[28] and rhetoric was running high. It was reported that "the Council of Imams and Ulamas in Kaduna State ... told the Niger Delta militants threatening chaos if President Goodluck Jonathan loses the presidential election that they stand to lose if there is a war."[34] The GMB Volunteers, a group described as a "frontline voluntary organization made up of professionals, ethnic and religious groups," has criticised hate advertisements directed against APC candidate General Muhammadu Buhari.[35]

On 9 February, although "Nigerian civil society" was "in uproar" over the postponement, the north east remained calm, and voters there appeared willing to wait.[36]

Groups such as the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) have "advised political parties to stop making hate speeches against opponents."[37]

The Nigeria Women Platform for Peaceful Election (NWPPE) is collaborating with United Nations Women to hold training sessions for journalists on gender-based violence and gender sensitive reporting. A "women situation room", similar to a "civil society situation room" is planned for monitoring violence against women during the elections.[38]

Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who has called the postponement "an obstruction of democracy", nonetheless released a statement saying "I charge Nigerians to be calm, non-violent and steadfast. We must be determined to make sure postponement does not demoralize or disenfranchise us. We must see this as a challenge for us to remain resolute in yearning for a new democratic government; one that will not see itself as above the people."[39]

On 31 January, a concert was held in Owerri, Imo State, as part of the RSVP concert series, urging young people to RSVP – Register, Select, Vote and Protect. "Register – pick your Permanent Voters' card-PVC, Select (select your candidates), and Vote – vote not Fight, and Protect – protect your mandate." A second RSVP concert was planned for Lagos on 8 February.[40]

The postponement was the topic of a Council on Foreign Relations online conference call with John Campbell on 28 February 2015.[41]

According to the Nigerian Constitution, the presidential election must be held by 28 April.[36] As Section 25 of the 2010 Electoral Act states, the date is to be no later than 30 days before the expiration of the previous office holder's term of office.[42]

Media support[edit]

Buhari was supported by The Economist "with a heavy heart" as "the least awful" option; the newspaper was scathing about the repression and economic policy of Buhari's previous regime, but praised his subsequent adherence to democratic process, anti-corruption stance, and the legitimacy he held in the Muslim North as a stronger platform with which to combat Boko Haram.[43]

Voting day[edit]

The website of the Independent National Electoral Commission was hacked on election day by a group calling itself the Nigerian Cyber Army.[44]

Extension[edit]

Voting was extended due to technical problems with electronic card readers.[45] The technology was introduced to prevent voter fraud, but was opposed by President Goodluck Jonathan who called it a "huge national embarrassment" when problems caused a delay. President Jonathan himself failed to be accredited by the card reader, which was shown live on national television.[46]

Violence[edit]

Boko Haram attempted to disrupt the election by attacking voting centres, killing 41 people.[47][48] An opposition politician, Umaru Ali, was gunned down in one attack.[49][50]

Peace initiatives[edit]

The Jos Forum Inter-communal Dialogue Process was established to serve as a sustainable and impartial dialogue mechanism to be used by the communities to handle disputes.[51] In 2015, the Jos Peace Dialogue Forum has already served as a platform for various political parties to discuss challenges and commit to peaceful elections in 2015.[52]

Observers[edit]

Election observer missions [EOM] were deployed from the African Union (AU), Commonwealth of Nations, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU); and were led by Amos Sawyer,[53] Bakili Muluzi,[54] John Kufuor,[55] and Santiago Fisas respectively.[56]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the citizens and the government for conducting a peaceful and orderly election.[57] The AUEOM concluded that the elections were conducted in a "peaceful atmosphere" and met the "continental and regional principles of democratic elections".[53] ECOWAS EOM said that it met the "criteria of being free and transparent" despite "pockets of incidents and logistical challenges."[55] The Commonwealth EOM described the conduct as "generally peaceful and transparent."[58]

Opinion polls[edit]

Poll source Date Sample size Undecided Buhari
APC
Jonathan
PDP
Notes
Sahara Reporters[59][60] 15 October 2014 15,435 N/A 79% 21% 24-hour online poll
Buildup Nigeria[59][61] 16 October 2014 26,595 2.29% 48.41% 49.3% The poll was conducted by Reno Omokri, who serves as President Jonathan's Special Assistant on New Media.[62]
Afrobarometer[63] 5–27 December 2014 2,400 11% 42% 42% Margin of error of +/-2%
Nigerian FM[64] 22 December 2014 54% 48%
WorldStage Newsonline[65] 27 March 2015 1,886 N/A 35.53% 64.48%
NigerianEye[66] 20 January 2015 7,043 N/A 72% 25% The remaining 3% voted for other candidates

Results[edit]

President[edit]

Buhari
53.96%
Jonathan
44.96%
Margin: 2,571,759
Candidate Party Votes %
Muhammadu Buhari All Progressives Congress 15,424,921 53.96
Goodluck Jonathan People's Democratic Party 12,853,162 44.96
Adebayo Ayeni African Peoples Alliance 53,537 0.19
Ganiyu Galadima Allied Congress Party of Nigeria 40,311 0.14
Sam Eke Citizens Popular Party 36,300 0.13
Rufus Salau Alliance for Democracy 30,673 0.11
Mani Ahmad African Democratic Congress 29,665 0.10
Allagoa Chinedu Peoples Party of Nigeria 24,475 0.09
Martin Onovo National Conscience Party 24,455 0.09
Tunde Anifowose-Kelani Accord Alliance 22,125 0.08
Chekwas Okorie United Progressive Party 18,220 0.06
Comfort Sonaiya KOWA Party 13,076 0.05
Godson Okoye United Democratic Party 9,208 0.03
Ambrose Albert Owuru Hope Party 7,435 0.03
Invalid/blank votes 844,519
Total 29,432,083 100
Registered voters/turnout 67,422,005 43.65
Source: INEC

By state[edit]

State Buhari Jonathan Ayeni Galadima Eke Salau Ahmad Chinedu Onovo Kelani Okorie Sonaiya Okoye Owuru
Abia 13,394 368,303 2,766 2,194 1,046 448 569 424 745 315 330 173 213 125
Adamawa 374,701 251,664 1,549 1,166 819 595 1,012 1,163 1,212 495 334 752 289 267
Akwa Ibom 58,411 953,304 384 443 412 474 608 327 381 1,600 144 160 224 192
Anambra 17,926 660,762 2,303 1,259 1,279 475 534 537 887 547 1,121 311 286 357
Bauchi 931,598 86,085 964 232 391 173 189 128 207 131 37 128 29 46
Bayelsa 5,194 361,209 70 38 44 69 116 62 95 45 35 52 20 18
Benue 373,961 303,737 945 1,464 567 254 539 439 683 315 74 105 66 115
Borno 473,543 25,640 878 243 310 392 201 143 107 145 41 158 31 88
Cross River 28,368 414,863 532 514 381 709 749 864 930 279 1,487 312 289 237
Delta 48,910 1,211,405 478 916 813 735 888 393 670 1,473 261 311 354 166
Ebonyi 19,518 323,653 2,452 1,214 2,345 1,133 2,704 1,168 1,890 426 4,859 913 624 989
Edo 208,469 286,869 709 1,284 325 450 512 729 516 159 72 175 160 22
Ekiti 120,331 176,466 482 538 330 854 424 388 377 94 145 108 60 94
Enugu 14,157 553,003 715 479 237 269 478 407 761 441 290 203 1,623 110
Gombe 361,245 96,873 773 192 407 169 247 157 227 104 37 97 25 46
Imo 133,253 559,185 2,236 956 733 757 1,617 414 784 533 1,917 158 264 157
Jigawa 885,988 142,904 2,527 540 1,553 587 375 853 548 394 197 423 338 337
Kaduna 1,127,760 484,085 1,611 424 824 273 546 549 754 218 78 176 79 105
Kano 1,903,999 215,779 2,770 778 1,552 708 657 485 697 426 156 288 234 292
Katsina 1,345,441 98,937 1,671 402 976 283 498 254 330 183 72 215 117 47
Kebbi 567,883 100,972 2,685 361 1,794 450 472 547 519 214 238 448 207 213
Kogi 264,851 149,987 1,001 1,089 967 427 761 476 399 700 156 190 180 144
Kwara 302,146 132,602 1,165 817 910 520 438 325 394 248 102 214 81 118
Lagos 792,460 632,327 2,177 3,038 1,125 4,453 2,072 1,041 1,430 1,795 244 1,000 269 255
Nassarawa 236,838 273,460 310 95 131 74 105 164 222 40 33 48 23 4
Niger 657,678 149,222 2,006 441 1,264 403 614 449 550 307 118 305 116 198
Ogun 308,290 207,950 1,930 3,072 978 1,927 1,364 4,339 815 584 597 432 562 332
Ondo 299,889 251,368 1,139 2,406 1,012 1,237 1,227 734 846 386 221 223 184 184
Osun 383,603 249,929 1,306 1,731 1,029 1,667 937 599 767 377 159 255 124 132
Oyo 528,620 303,376 4,468 8,979 6,674 6,282 5,000 2,842 1,895 6,331 3,665 1,312 1,069 839
Plateau 429,140 549,615 618 391 237 279 406 554 693 178 29 138 54 56
Rivers 69,238 1,487,075 513 525 577 1,104 1,031 492 565 1,066 156 2,274 303 542
Sokoto 671,926 152,199 3,482 535 1,894 714 762 605 686 249 180 475 269 283
Taraba 261,326 310,800 1,306 811 1,033 586 320 680 876 962 439 153 224 161
Yobe 446,265 25,526 632 164 329 213 112 101 120 101 32 104 30 67
Zamfara 612,202 144,833 1,310 238 655 290 294 374 404 125 68 122 93 14
FCT 146,399 157,195 674 342 347 240 288 269 473 139 96 165 95 83
Total 15,424,921 12,853,162 53,537 40,311 36,300 30,673 29,666 24,475 24,455 22,125 18,220 13,076 9,208 7,435
Source: INEC

House of Representatives[edit]

Party Votes % Seats +/–
All Progressives Congress 225
People's Democratic Party 125
Other parties 10
Invalid/blank votes
Total 360
Registered voters/turnout
Source: Reuters Nigeria Tribune

Senate[edit]

Party Votes % Seats +/–
All Progressives Congress 60 Increase19
People's Democratic Party 49 Decrease15
Labour Party
Invalid/blank votes
Total 109
Registered voters/turnout
Source:

References[edit]

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