The Nigerian Election is a means of choosing and electing choice representatives to the Nigerian federal government and the various states in Nigeria. The essence of this article is to provide insight into the types of the election in Nigeria and the electoral system operated.

During the electoral processes, Nigerians a representative to the office of the President at the federal level as a head of state, a Governor is elected as the head of states (across the 36 states in Nigeria) and a legislature (the National Assembly). The president (head of state) is elected by the people. The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two chambers of the National Assembly.

NB: The House of Representatives has 360 members which are elected for a four-year term in single-seat constituencies and there are 109 members in the senate members elected as senate members.

Nigeria operates a multi-party system. Often, two or three parties are the strongest and a third party that is electorally successful. The election in Nigeria is held every 4 years and often holds in the month of February. Handing over of the old government to the newly elected government takes place in the month of May.


There are majorly four different types of the election in Nigeria. These are listed below and briefly, discussed afterward.

  1. Primary Election
  2. General Election
  3. Local Election
  4. Special Election

Brief Details On The Types Of Election In Nigeria

  • 1. Primary Election

The primary election is organized by all the individual political parties to select each party’s nominee/representative for the general election. When the primary elections are ongoing, separate party ballots are printed, ballot boxes are provided and the voter must choose between the ballot with interested Democrats running against other Democrats or the one on which Republicans run against other Republicans (all in the same party).

For example, if three or more candidates vying for a position, and if none receives majority votes, then a second primary election or runoff election is held between the two candidates with the highest number of votes in the first primary election held. The winner of this runoff election becomes the party nominee/representative. The statewide primary election is held in June of even-numbered years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday.

  • 2. General Elections

The General election is the second on our list of types of elections in Nigeria. It is held to determine and decide which political party, or candidate that will occupy each office that opens for election. In addition, an eligible voter may split the ballot paper to select candidates from all parties on the ballot; however, a voter may choose only one candidate per office in the general election. The statewide general election is held in the month of February. The essence of a general election is to make a final choice among the various qualified candidates nominated by parties or who are running independently or as write-in candidates.

  • 3. Local Elections

No set time or method that applies to all city or special district elections in the local election. A registered voter will receive a Sample Ballot before the election takes place. The basic information needed about who is running for what office and whether there are any local ballot measures is provided.

  • 4. Special Elections

This type of election is held in extraordinary cases i.e. when there is the necessity to fill a vacancy that occurs during the term for which a person was elected.

Electoral System In Nigeria

An electoral system is a method through which citizens of a certain country elect their presidents, governments or other administrative or political officials to oversee the affairs of the nation. This method determines ad spell out the criteria required of a candidate or a party before they can participate in the elections and the way votes are counted.

There is a specialized committee responsible for the elections each time election is held in the country. This committee organizes the pre-election run, controls all the conditions of this period, and prepares everything needed for the voting process, etc. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the current committee set up to oversee electoral processes in Nigeria.

The Process Of Electoral System In Nigeria

The Nigerian electoral system determines how much support from the citizens of the nation a certain candidate/nominee or a political party receives. Every electoral process starts with a pre-election period, during which all the candidates work with people, present their manifesto and try to win their liking, giving promises, convincing the people, etc.


A lot of preparations are done by Political parties usually before the actual voting takes place. For example, there is a need for each party to select its own candidate for each constituency. In a situation where there are six political parties, there may be as many as six candidates in each constituency. A candidate is a person nominated to represent a party and to be voted for in an election. If the election is to the houses of parliament, the successful candidate will be parliamentarians.

  • Registration Of Political Parties:

Every political party ought to be duly registered by the committee overseeing the electoral system. The registration of political parties is done according to laid down political rules and regulations set by the electoral commission.

  • Registration Of Voters

Usually, prior to any general election, all persons qualified to vote are called upon to register themselves and it is only those who register that can vote. It is the duty of the Electoral Commission to carry out the registration exercise. Criteria to register include nationality and the person must be 18 and above.

  • Campaign For Votes

This is the part where candidates of a party have to campaign directly for votes. {{{This involves presenting the party’s manifesto or programme to the electorate.}}} All the party intends to do if elected into power is contained in the party programme. The citizens who are the voters will be the final judge as to which party has the best programme and intentions. The candidate moves from town to town, city to city and state to state in order to canvas for the votes of citizens of the country.

  • Secret Ballot

The secret ballot is a system of voting whereby voting is done secretly. Most democratic countries operate the secret ballot. A ballot is a paper containing the candidates of each party vying for a particular electoral position and its through which the elector votes. Under the secret ballot, the voter goes alone into the ballot booth to vote for their chosen candidate and drops his ballot paper into the ballot box. The secret ballot is introduced so as to protects the voter from possible persecution and intimidation. In addition, this is so because aside from the voter no other person knows the particular candidate the voter votes for.

  • Actual Voting And Results

The actual voting activity is done within a set day and period i.e. the voting hours can be from 7.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on a fixed date. Each voter who is eligible has to cast his vote within the stated hours. Once the voting exercise is over, the ballot boxes are carried to the counting center and counted immediately and the results of the election are immediately announced by the Returning Officer after the counting.


Conclusion On The Types Of Election In Nigeria And Electoral System

As articulated above, the electoral system of Nigeria is been carried out through secret ballot where the eligible voter goes alone to cast his/her vote in the ballot booth and drops his ballot paper into the ballot box after voting (through thumbprinting) candidate or party of his choice. This process protects voters from possible intimidation or persecution.

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