Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / Africa

Two West African countries have big elections this weekend

By Edith Mutethya | | Updated: 2019-02-21 17:43
Share - WeChat
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari greets his supporters after Friday prayers in his hometown Daura in Katsina State, ahead of the country's presidential election, Nigeria Feb 15, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

This coming weekend is one West Africans are eagerly looking forward to. Two countries in the region are set to elect new presidents to steer the countries' economic growth over the next four and five years.

Nigeria, the second biggest economy in Africa and the continent's most populous country with 190 million people, will hold its presidential elections on Saturday after the postponement of the ballot on February 16.

On the other hand, Senegal, the most stable democracy in West Africa with a population of 15 million people, is set to hold its presidential election on Sunday.

In Nigeria, 70 candidates are competing for the top job while Senegal has five people in the running.

In both cases, the outgoing presidents are seeking re-election and have a good chance to win. But in Nigeria, the contest is a bit tougher. President Muhammadu Buhari is up against former vice president Atiku Abubakar and a third candidate, Oby Ezekwesili, the activist who leads the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign.

Buhari, who is running under the All Progressives Congress, has promised to move the country to the next level as a prosperous, strong and stable country.

He is also promising to create 500,000 jobs and train 200,000 others for outsourcing markets in technology, services and entertainment. This is in addition to creating several million jobs through agriculture.

Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party promises to revive the country's economy by attracting investment and supporting state-managed enterprises, doubling the GDP to $900 billion by 2025, creating a minimum of 2.5 million jobs annually and lifting at least 50 million people from poverty in the first two years.

Gerishon Ikiara, International Economics Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, says whoever wins the election will be faced with the challenge of curbing corruption, eradicating poverty and uniting the country.

Ikiara said despite being the leading African producer of oil, the effects have yet to trickle down to the common person, as a majority are unemployed.

According to the International Labour Organization, the official unemployment rate for the working age population is 7.5 percent, while 43.3 percent of the youth (15-24 years) is either unemployed or underemployed.

Nigeria has the second-largest HIV epidemic in the world, with 4 percent prevalence and human trafficking remaining major problems according to the ILO.

Extremist group Boko Haram continues to cause strife in northern Nigeria. Other security issues include conflicts between herders and farmers and the Niger Delta issue, characterized by illegal oil trade.

Senegal President Macky Sall is campaigning on economic growth. Sall promises to put in place phase two of his program that involves transforming key sectors — including healthcare, agriculture, education and public administration — by 2035.

Sall is expected to win the election following the barring of two of his strong opponents, Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, from participating in elections because of corruption allegations.

However Ousmane Sonko, the youngest among the contestants, is likely to cause an impact, as 60 percent of the Senegalese population is under 25 years old. They are anxious for change and likely to vote for a young leader.

Unlike most African countries, Senegal has had peaceful elections and transitions since its independence from France in 1960.

However, despite significant economic growth and decades of political stability, Senegal still faces serious development challenges according to the World Food Program. More than one-third of the country's population lives below the poverty line, and 75 percent of families suffer from chronic poverty.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349