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.
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repealed most of its sanctions and the Commonwealth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
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 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
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.