ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Nigeria: Unhappy Transition

The recent presidential election in Nigeria was vital for a country hoping for apeaceful transition to a new civilian regime, and also of keen interest to the rest of Africa. The countdown to the elections, after the senate last year rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed incumbent president Olusegun Obasanjo another fouryear term in office was marked by controversy and bitter animosity. The elections were staggered and monitored by several international teams of observers. The general consensus has been critical of the electoral process and observers have condemned in varying degrees of severity, the results. What could well have been the beginning of a new era for Nigeria now appears threatened and the short term could see violence and political uncertainty.

Nigeria, a British colony till independence in 1960, prides itself on being Africa’s largest democracy. It has also been regarded as an emerging economic power, owing to the reserves of oil and gas in the Niger delta. In the last decade, several oil multinationals have acquired substantial interests in the region and in 2006, Nigeria, thanks to generous concessions on the part of its creditors, the Paris Club and the World Bank, became one of the first African nations to repay its international debts. Yet Nigeria’s recent economic progress poses a cruel contrast to the backwardness evident elsewhere: 52 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line in Nigeria; child mortality rates are among the world’s highest as is illiteracy.

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