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Nigeria

Yearbook 1998

Nigeria. All five parties nominated dictator Sani Abacha as their candidate in the August presidential election. However, all parties were pure puppets to the military junta, and interest in the parliamentary elections in April was very low.

1998 Nigeria

According to Countryaah, six men were sentenced in April to death for alleged coup attempt against Abacha. One of them was Junta's former second man Oladipo Diya.

In June, Abacha died suddenly of a heart attack during a meeting with three prostitutes. He was succeeded by Commander-in-Chief General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who promised democracy and released a number of political prisoners, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The hope was now that the imprisoned Moshood Abiola, who won the canceled presidential election in 1993, would also be released. However, in the middle of a meeting with a US government delegation, Abiola also suffered a heart attack and died quickly. The death led to severe unrest in the country, but a group of foreign court doctors found that Abiola had died a natural death.

Abubakar continued the cleansing after Abacha's disobedience. He disbanded all the institutions formed to lead the transition to civilian government according to Abacha's model, including the political parties. New parties could be formed and the unions regained their freedom. The six death sentences from April were converted to prison sentences. The new government tried to regain as much as possible of the billions Abacha destroyed.

The new social climate reduced Nigeria's insulation. The World Bank declared its readiness to grant new loans, the EU repealed most of its sanctions and the Commonwealth recommended reopened relations with Nigeria Nobel Laureate in Literature 1986, Wole Soyinka, returned from four years of exile after being cleansed of treason charges.

Local elections were held in December as a first step in the return to civilian rule in the spring of 1999. Of nine participating parties, three qualified for continued participation in the state and parliamentary elections. N's ethnic division means that only parties with strong roots in a large part of the country are allowed to run at national level.

Despite the hope of a brighter future for Nigeria, a tense situation prevailed in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where competition for gaining part of the oil income led to ethnic contradictions in several places. The worst was around the town of Warri, where the conflict between the ijaw and itsekiri groups demanded many deaths and led to severe disruptions in oil production.

Election run-off

Election in Nigeria is associated with significant irregularities, including violence. The opposition, as well as Nigerian and foreign observers, have pointed out irregularities in all elections. Especially the 2007 election was characterized by extensive violence, and around 200 people must have been killed. The opposition's demand that the presidential election be canceled because of cheating was rejected in 2008 by the Nigerian Supreme Court.

The 2007 elections are considered to be the worst in the Fourth Republic, and there was massive pressure both from within and internationally to improve voter turnout in 2011. Election observers noted strong improvements in both 2011 and 2015, but reported both violence and electoral fraud. 2019 was characterized by logical feeding.

The 2015 election was postponed for six weeks due to conflict in the north of Nigeria, and violence and electoral fraud were particularly linked to the Niger Delta, where President Jonathan belongs and gained a majority. The 2019 election was postponed for a week, just hours before the planned run-off.

Religious divides and the north-south question

As is the case for several other countries in West Africa, Nigeria is religiously divided between a Muslim north of the Sahel belt and a Christian south of the coast.

At the same time, Nigeria is even more ethnically diverse than other states in the region. Unlike other countries, the religious composition is almost equally divided between Muslims and Christians. Historically, the political elite has largely come from the essentially Muslim north. However, representatives from the south have dominated the presidency of the Fourth Republic: Both President Obasanjo (1999-2007) and Jonathan (2010-2015) are Christians and from the south. Yar'Adua (2007-2010) was a Muslim from a chieftain's family in the north, but sat for almost two years. Buhari, from the north, has been sitting since 2015.

The Muslim north area is often described as marginalized both economically and politically. Poverty and mistrust of the state form the basis for terror and conflict in the north, see especially Boko Haram. This is an intense conflict that has bordered on civil war and has international dimensions, but it is primarily a local conflict between rebel groups and the state, not between the north and the south.

Nigeria has avoided a violent conflict between the north and south. The only civil war in the country's history, the Biafra War, spread between groups in the south and the state. But all the way back to this war, there have been cases of clashes between religious and ethnic groups both in the south and the north; partly related to economic conditions and partly to religious. In 1999, serious riots broke out, among others in Warri in the south, in Kaduna further north and in Kano all the way in the north, and between Hausa and Yorubians around Lagos, as well as in several other states.

Religious contradictions were sharpened in 1999–2000 by several states in the north introducing Islamic law, sharia, which led to outbreaks of violence in several places, especially in Kaduna. Later, on several occasions, and in several states, there have been serious clashes between Christians and Muslims, and between militia and government, with several thousand killed and a number of religious buildings set on fire.

Extensive violence erupted in several places in 2004, including the Plateau, Borno, Rivers, Adamawa, Kaduna and Yobe states, as well as in the Niger Delta. That same year, 27 militant Islamists were killed following a military operation in Borno State; they belonged to the al Sunna wal Jamma group, which had started an uprising to establish a Taliban regime in northern Nigeria. The rise of militant Islam is feared to create a breeding ground for intensified sectarian violence. The publication of the Danish caricature drawings by Prophet Muhammad in 2006 also contributed to violent demonstrations in Nigeria, with many killed.

In the Middle Belt, the geographical belt that separates the North and the South, the violence between resident, Christian peasants and Muslim, Fulani pastoralists has increased. The conflicts are often described as religious and ethnic clashes, but are fundamentally about access to land. From 2000 to 2017, it was estimated that at least 12,000 people were killed and nearly one million people were displaced from their homes. The conflict has escalated and spread south. According to the International Crisis Group, 1300 have been killed and 300,000 displaced in the first half of 2018, and these death tolls are higher than the figures for the same period linked to Boko Haram.

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