But only those from the two main parties – President Muhammadu Buhari and former vice president Atiku Abubakar – have a real shot at leading Africa’s most populous nation.
Buhari, 76, made history in 2015 as the first person to democratically oust an incumbent president in Nigeria. Now, as candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC), he is seeking a second term. It is his fifth run at the presidency.
A reputation as a staunch opponent of corruption was key to Buhari’s victory at the last election.
During his first term, he earned the nickname ‘Baba Go Slow’ when critics said he governed at a glacial pace and he took six months to appoint a cabinet.
Atiku Abubakar is the 72-year-old candidate for the PDP, the party that inherited power from the military in 1999 and governed for the next 16 years. For the first eight of those years, Atiku was vice president to Nigeria’s new democratic leader and former military head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku, like Buhari, is also a northern Muslim, born in Adamawa state. He sought the APC presidential ticket for the 2015 elections but lost to Buhari and threw his support behind him, funding his campaign and even lending him a private jet.
To his supporters, Atiku is an accomplished businessman with the economic credentials needed to boost growth, create jobs and attract foreign investors back to Nigeria as it struggles to recover from the first recession in a generation. His opponents say he is a kleptocrat who lacks a moral compass and consistent ideology.