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Grand Elections Weekend: Nigeria and Senegal Heads to the Polls

Yaounde (National Times) – Millions of voters in Nigeria and Senegal will be heading to the polls this weekend in elections that pit two presidential incumbents against dozens of opposition figures.

In Senegal, Macky Sall, 57, who took over power from Senegalese strong man Abdoulaye Wade in 2012, is campaigning for a second term. Mr Sall is expected to win the elections based on his massive investment infrastructure and popularity among youths. Sall’s government has barred two popular opposition figures on corruption charges.

In Nigeria, incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, 76, is campaigning against former vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, and dozens of other candidates from minor parties. The contest is set to be focused on Buhari against Abubakar. Nigerians will also be voting for members of their National Assembly.

Senegalese will be heading to the polls on Sunday to vote in an election where public opinion over the incumbent President differs. Some of his supporters believe his investment in infrastructure and education has contributed more to his country’s development than his predecessors. But others think he is a “French puppet”.

“He has done better than [former president] Abdoulaye Wade,” Daouda Ngom, a security guard, told Al Jazeera in front of Sall’s party headquarters in the Mermoz neighbourhood of the city.

Macky Sall and Wife Marieme Faye Sall

“During his seven years, he has done better than 12 years of Wade,” he continued.

“He has achieved many things, we have many more schools, universities, and also achievements in infrastructure.”

Others contend that “Macky Sall has no ability to change our lives,” said Mamadou Goumbada, a retired teacher.

“He has sold the country’s wealth to French companies. He is France’s candidate. Idrissa Seck will never do that,” The 70-year-old opposition supporter told Al Jazeera, referring to the country’s former prime minister, who is challenging Sall for the presidency.

Nigeria’s INEC postponed the country’s elections last week, stating that adequate logistics were not in place to organize the elections. The elections will be held today Saturday, 23 February 2019.

Nigeria’s Chief Opposition Candidate Atiku Abubakar image credit (Pulse.ng)

Buhari is campaigning to continue his fight against corruption, his investment in infrastructure and agriculture, and his zeal to keep the country united. However, Nigerians have criticized Buhari for his inability to address the countries mounting insecurity from Boko Haram, Kidnappers, and fake food and hygienic products.

President Muhammadu Buhari arrives in Katsina on Friday. Twitter image

Buhari and his family arrived Katsina on Saturday en route Daura, his hometown, to participate in the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections. He has promised the country that voters security will be guaranteed, but most voters will be sceptical of security promise from a president whose worse failure has been the ability to address growing insecurity.

Macky Sall address his supporters on Thursday, before the official close of campaigns. Over six million people will be heading to the polls in Senegal and 76.4 million in Nigeria. Both countries have seen more than three power transfers since the introduction of democratic elections.

 

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