February 2, 2015

Two-minute Guide to the Upcoming Nigerian Elections

The Nigerian general election of 2015 will be the fifth election to be held since the end of military rule in 1999. Presidential and National Assembly (House of Representatives and Senate) elections are both scheduled  for February 14, 2015. Governor and State House of Assembly elections are set for February 28, 2015. The incumbent president, Jonathan Goodluck will be seeking a second and final term. 

Political Parties

The two party frontrunners and their candidates are highlighted in the chart below. APC is a newly formed party, comprised of an alliance of four parties, and accordingly holds 139 seats in the National Assembly, versus the PDP’s 205 seats. The APC candidate, Retired General Muhammadu Bahari, ruled Nigeria from 1983 to 1985. Bahari also unsuccessfully ran for President in 2003, 2007 and 2011. Goodluck Jonathan, member of the opposing PDP, is the reigning Nigerian president.

National Assembly Seats
Presidential Candidate
People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
205 (55%)
Goodluck Jonathan
All Progressives Congress (APC)
139 (23%)
Retired General Muhammadu Bahari


The race for the presidency has recently heated up. According to a December 2014 poll, Jonathan enjoyed a 19% lead over the opposing Buhari. However, recent polls by Afrobarometer, the leading continent-wide researcher of African public opinion, asserts that the election is “too close to call,” with both parties receiving 42% of respondents’ support. To win, a Presidential candidate needs an overall majority and at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 24 states. In the case of the latter requirement, a runoff may be needed even if a candidate has secured an overall majority.

Investor Sentiment

Jonathan's government is expected to continue an expansionary fiscal policy ahead of elections in an attempt to bolster his standing. Many suspect that once the election is out of the way, monetary policy will need to tighten even further in order to reduce inflationary pressures and prevent the naira from falling. Earlier this month, the Central Bank of Nigeria held the key interest rate at 13%, already a record high.

Even though political violence should be contained, the expected increase in violence as elections draw near will also pose headline risks for investors. All the foregoing combined will make investing in Nigeria a volatile experience before the elections are settled.

Election Timeline:

12 February: Last Day for Presidential and National Assembly campaigning. Advertising within 24 hours of election prohibited.

14 February: National Assembly and Presidential elections.

28 February: Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.

Note: Runoff elections to the office of the President of Governor of State (if any) will be held within 7 days after the announcement of the result of the election.

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