Details have emerged that Dahiru Mangal, a Nigerian billionaire born in Katsina, is funding the campaign of a presidential candidate in Niger Republic, raising questions about his motives.
Niger Republic’s presidential and national assembly elections will be held on Sunday, December 27, 2020.
A video obtained by PRNigeria showed Mangal presenting over 100 vehicles to Mohamed Bazoum in Maradi, a Niger-Nigeria border town.
It is unclear, however, if the country’s electoral laws permit foreign contributions to a candidates electioneering campaign.
Mangal, the founder of Max Air, is worth $765 million. He is friends with President Mahamadou Issoufou and reportedly also made donations to the incumbent’s 2016 campaign.
Bazoum is a protege of Issoufou and the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) candidate.
He will face 29 other candidates, including Mahamane Ousmane, Niger President from 1993-1996 and Seini Oumarou, a former Prime Minister.
The runner-up in the last election, Hama Amadou is barred from running because of a criminal conviction.
If no presidential candidate receives above 50percent of total votes, a second round will be held on February 21, 2021.
It will be Niger’s first democratic transition of power between democratically elected presidents since independence from France in 1960.
In recent times, there have been debates about the alleged “new love” between Nigeria and Niger.
The latest donation to a presidential election candidate in Niger by a Nigerian businessman has again stirred up that debate.
Recall that recently, President Muhammadu Buhari approved that a rail line be built to connect the two countries.
There were also the reported plans of the Nigerian government to import fuel from Niger.
On Tuesday, Buhari assured that his administration will support Niger in its elections.
The President spoke when he received former Vice President Namadi Sambo, head of ECOWAS Election Mission.
“I come from Daura, a few kilometres from the Republic of Niger, so I should know a bit about that country. We share more than 1,400 kilometres of borders which can only be effectively supervised by God”, he said.
While the resultant effect of these decisions remain to be seen, Nigerians wait curiously to debate issues as they arise.