In February 2015, voters in Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, will head to the polls to choose their next president. In the past few years, several separate, regional political parties merged into the All Progressive Congress, creating the opportunity for a credible opposition to pose a real challenge to the ruling People’s Democratic Party, which has been in power since the transition to civilian rule in 1999. Tensions in the country are high: Regional economic inequality has exacerbated the long-standing north-south, Christian-Muslim divides. Similarly, President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to run again has disrupted traditional power-sharing agreements among the regions and religions. Boko Haram continues to threaten security around the country, especially in the north. The post-election violence of 2011 also continues to cast a shadow over the country.
In his brief, Jideofor Adibe—senior lecturer at Nasarawa State University, editor of the academic journal African Renaissance and co-editor of the Journal of African Foreign Affairs—gives an overview of the 2015 Nigerian presidential election, explaining the unique historical context of this diverse country and setting out the top issues on voters’ minds this year.
Adibe navigates the complex history of overlapping religious, regional and economic divisions within Nigeria and notes that one of the most influential factors in the election will be the power of Jonathan’s incumbency.
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Read Foresight Africa 2015, which details the top priorities for Africa in the coming year, to learn more about the Nigerian elections and other critical issues for the region.