Tuesday, 31 March 2015

On the Nigerian Presidential Election

The Independent National Election Commission in Abuja is on the verge of the formal announcement that the All-Progressives Conference candidate and former military dictator Mohammadu Buhari has defeated incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party.

General Buhari is over two million votes ahead in Africa's most populous republic with only one state left to announce their results: the (Muslim-majority and Buhari-supporting) state of Borno, with only 1,4 million electors: an insurmountable lead for president Jonathan to overcome. President Jonathan has telephoned General Buhari to concede defeat.

The election is only the fifth to be held since the end of military rule in 1999, and is six weeks late after being postponed owing to unrest in the north east of the republic. 

President Jonathan's campaign may have been torpedoed by his ignoring of the unwritten rule that the PDP candidate alternates between citizens from the Muslim-majority north of Nigeria and those from the Christian-majority south. His PDP is a centre-right party which has governed Nigeria for sixteen years, but his own personal approval ratings have nosedived after his disastrous handling of the mass abduction of schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

General Buhari's party is an alliance of conservatives and progressives, founded specifically to contest this election. 

Opinion polls throughout the campaign have been roughly as stable as Eric Joyce - reporting anything from Buhari on 79% to Jonathan on 64%, with an Afrobarometer showing a 42%-42% dead heat.

The difference between the two candidates seems to have been the result from the mainly-Muslim state of Kano in which Buhari received almost two million votes against Jonathan's 215.779. 

Nigeria is bitterly divided between its two main religious groups, and given its strategic importance to global events, western governments will be hoping that the country remains at peace and does not split along ethnic lines.

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