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The Lead-Up to the Nigeria 2023 General Elections


With the incumbent Nigerian president ineligible to contest the upcoming presidential election in February, set against a backdrop of dire economic challenges, there is uncertainty looming over the country. In their latest insight report, our security experts highlight potential risks rising amidst these elections and provide recommendations to strengthen business continuity. 

The 2023 Nigerian presidential election will be held on 25 February 2023, with the gubernatorial and State Assembly polls being held on 11 March. The election period will be accompanied by political violence spread across the country – mostly in the form of street protests and clashes between rival supporters, or attacks on campaign rallies and candidates’ convoys. With politicians expected to hire thugs to cause intimidation and disrupt rival events, local security forces might use tough measures, including tear gas and live ammunition, against unrest.

This year, International SOS’ security experts expect a likely increase in militant attacks, particularly by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). The activities of bandit groups in the North West and secessionist groups in the South West could also disrupt the electoral process in these areas. 

Ethno-religious tensions have also been revived for this election, with the Christian-Muslim divide at its peak. Nigerian parties tend to always stick to the unofficial rule of alternating presidential and vice-presidential candidates between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian-dominated south, this year. This year, the All Progressives Congress (APC) defied this rule by running a joint Muslim ticket.

For organisations with activities in Nigeria, February-March will warrant extra caution and a reinforcement of security protocols. The elections are taking place within the context of rising insecurity nationwide, and the rise of smaller parties might even lead to a runoff following the results. We expect the risk of political violence to increase around polling day and the announcement of the results, particularly if the results are inconclusive or disputed by either of the leading parties. Any unrest could consequently lead to temporary curfews in the country.

Our latest Insight Report, sent to our Workforce Resilience subscribers, provides a thorough situation update, along with possible scenarios, and an exhaustive list of our recommendations for organisations operating in Nigeria. We have put together a few of these recommendations to help you better prepare for February-March.

Our recommendations for organisations in Nigeria

  • Review internal exposure, and identify and map essential and non-essential in-country workforce.
  • Monitor militancy trends and any significant deterioration in the security environment in states where you have operations or workforce exposure.
  • Review contingency plans to ensure they are up-to-date and ready to be implemented at short notice. 
  • Monitor inflammatory rhetoric which would give rise to violence targeting a specific ethno-religious group. Advise employees to refrain from posting religious discourse on social media. 
  • Brief in-country and travelling workforce on location-specific flashpoints and key election dates. Try to minimise movement around key dates, or in the event of an outbreak of unrest. 
  • Ensure in-country workforce have access to real-time information throughout the election period.

To view and implement all of our security experts’ recommendations for your managers, visit our Travel Security online portal here.

Get In Touch With Our Security Experts