These changing campaign techniques could be linked to improvements recorded by Nigeria’s electoral commission (INEC) in making elections more secure. With voters’ cards now electronically verified as well as growing focus from civil society groups and a more expressive electorate closely monitoring vote counting at polling units across the country, it has essentially become harder to rig elections. It means candidates have much lower margins of error with their campaign messaging and are increasingly looking into ways to connect directly with voters.

But despite INEC’s progress, Nigeria’s electoral system still remains far from perfect: “vote buying” tactics have been brazen during state elections over the past year while the electoral commission has faced challenges printing and distributing voter cards in a timely fashion. As elections are set to hold in nearly 200,000 polling units across the country, it is likely more flaws, ranging from voting material shortages to voter intimidation, could surface again.

As ever, the threat of electoral violence also looms large. But instigating malpractice or violence will come at a price for politicians as both the United States and United Kingdom have threatened measures against perpetrators including travel bans, assets freezes and prosecution under international law.

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