Historic elections in Nigeria

President Goodluck Jonathan has lost the elections in Nigeria. Now he is responsible for keeping the rest of the election process peaceful by accepting his defeat and stepping down from power, declares NAI researcher Henrik Angerbrandt.

Fears of widespread electoral violence in Nigeria were confounded. With some exceptions, the voters could get to polling stations and the electronic id-checking system worked most of the time, thereby helping to prevent cheating. Election rigging has plagued Nigeria for decades.

The winner, Muhammadu Buhari, attracted voters in many states that used to be pro-Jonathan.

“One explanation is that results from previous elections were boosted by fraudulent votes. Some voters also abstained this time”, observes Angerbrandt.

Illegal export

Outgoing President Jonathan has been accused of extensive corruption, which made him highly unpopular. His opponent’s principal electoral pledge was combatting corruption, which proved to be a winning strategy.

“Expectations that Buhari will deliver on his promises are high. One step would be to put a halt to the illegal export of money”, says Angerbrandt.

Oil exports finance 70 percent of the state budget in Nigeria. In spite of the fall in oil prices, Buhari claims to be able to offset this loss simply by eliminating corruption. It will be interesting to see what happens, says Angerbrandt.

The terrorist organisation Boko Haram didn´t succeed in derailing the electoral process, in spite of a number of deadly assaults.

“Boko Haram has been pushed back and Buhari has promised to continue the fight. This requires going beyond military means through social investment, to discourage recruiting”.

New benchmark

The Nigerian elections have implications for other African countries as well.

“The way they were executed could become a new benchmark. Both the organisation and the new technology worked well. If President Jonathan steps down without provoking violence, Nigeria will have started something new”, Angerbrandt concludes.

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