Nigerians are going to the polls to elect a president, with incumbent Goodluck Jonathan facing a strong challenge from Muhammadu Buhari, BBC reports. It is said to be the most closely fought election since independence. The election was delayed by six weeks to allow the army to recapture territory from militant Islamist group Boko Haram. The two main presidential candidates have pledged to prevent violence during the election and its aftermath.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has dominated Nigerian politics since 1999, but the All Progressives Congress (APC) is viewed as a serious challenge. Some 800 people were killed after the 2011 contest between Mr Jonathan and Gen Buhari, a former military ruler. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday: “The international community has high expectations that Nigeria will provide leadership in setting a high standard for this election.”
He called on Nigerians – in Africa’s most populous nation – to vote in large numbers. He added that he hoped the presidential and parliamentary elections would be “transparent, inclusive and peaceful”. Campaign group Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram has killed some 1,000 people this year alone. On Wednesday, army chief Kenneth Minimah said adequate security arrangements had been made for the polls. On Thursday, the government closed its land and sea borders for the election.