Nigerians head to the polls on Saturday to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. Security has emerged as a key concern for voters, and it's not only about the safety of the country, they are concerned whether there voices will be heard.

Members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) discuss the upcoming Nigerian general election to be held on February 16, 2019.
Members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) discuss the upcoming Nigerian general election to be held on February 16, 2019. (AFP)

Nigeria will head to the polls on Saturday in a general election to decide the country's next president and the makeup of parliament.

Among the top issues that could decide the result is domestic security. Kidnappings, banditry, and violence between herders and farmers are all on the rise.

Some people say they cannot return to the villages they are registered in to vote after they fled unrest.

"We do not really know our situation, we really want to vote because we want to choose a leader that will take Nigeria to the next level," says Liman Umaru.

TRT World's Ajeck Mangut reports from Nigeria.

Nigeria's 2019 presidential election in numbers

Nigerians vote on February 16 to choose a president to lead Africa's biggest oil producer and, by some measures, the continent's largest economy.

  • The size of Nigeria's population is hotly debated. The present figure of about 190 million is based on projections from a 2006 census that some experts say was flawed. Nevertheless, Africa's most populous country has 84 million people registered to vote in this weekend's election, a 25 percent rise from the last such vote four years ago, according to the national electoral commission.
  • Turnout was just 44 percent in 2015. That puts Nigeria 41st out of 44 African countries, measured by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance on their last presidential election turnout.
  • Elections show how men dominate politics in Nigeria. Although 47 percent of registered voters are women, according to the electoral commission, their political representation is limited. The country has never elected a woman president or state governor, and women only make up 6 percent of the 469 national parliament members. For national and gubernatorial elections, women make up roughly one-in-eight of the 8,878 total candidates, while for the presidency alone they are 7 percent of the 71 candidates.
  • Almost a quarter of registered voters - 24 percent - live in Buhari's heartland in the northwest, according to the electoral commission. The next-largest region by vote is the southwest, home to Lagos, the metropolis where 76-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari's political godfather Bola Tinubu helped deliver victory in 2015. Opposition figures have been campaigning in these areas to try to unseat the incumbent. The main opposition candidate is Atiku Abubakar, 72, who was vice president from 1999 to 2007.
  • Nigeria's population is young and fast-growing – it is expected to be the world's third most populous country by 2050 with 400 million inhabitants, the United Nations says. More than half of all voters, 51.1 percent, are between 18 and 35, according to the electoral commission. The country's median age is 18 years old. The two main presidential contenders are in their 70s - Buhari is 76 and the main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is 72.
  • Nigerian elections can be deadly: more than 800 people were killed in 2011 in post-election protests in the north after Buhari's defeat that year, according to Human Rights Watch. In 2015, more than 160 people were killed in election-related violence, the European Union has said. Observers have called for violence-free elections this time but concerns remain high, especially if the losing candidate refuses to concede. Several people were killed in a stampede at a Buhari rally in Port Harcourt.
  • Three hundred metres: a variety of activities related to campaigning are forbidden within this distance of a polling unit, according to the 2010 electoral act, including a ban on offensive weapons affecting even police. Moreover, a court ruled in 2015 that the military must not be involved in elections. However, the electoral commission said armed police and soldiers would guard polling units where the 1.8 million people who have fled Islamist violence in the northeast will vote.
  • This will be Nigeria's sixth election since returning to democracy in 1999, after decades under the military.
Source: TRT World