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Vol 44 No 9

Published 2nd May 2003


Nigeria

The naira republic wins again

Money-politics and vote-rigging will undermine President Obasanjo's second term without a full investigation of the poll

'Don't give me any more of those Florida results!' bellowed a Nigerian journalist at a computer screen in the Election Commission's media centre. The machine was spewing out results showing nearly 100 per cent support for the ruling People's Democratic Party in the Niger Delta and Igboland. That Nigeria's flawed elections of 2003 were being compared to the United States' flawed elections of 2000 was a victory of sorts for the PDP's electoral machine (AC Vol 44 Nos 7 & 8). What party barons wanted was an overwhelming victory for their presidential candidate, Olusegun Obasanjo, and most of their 36 state governorship candidates in the 19 April elections. They also wanted a credible enough victory for Obasanjo to have presided over the first successful (that is, uninterrupted by military coup) general elections held by a civilian government since Independence in 1960. Certainly the PDP got its overwhelming victory but its credibility is under fire. Initially the PDP barons brazened it out. Many argue convincingly that Obasanjo would not have needed to rig the elections to win but the imperatives of Nigeria's naira politics, masterminded by Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, demanded it. Politicians operate on payment in positions and contracts by results. Ambitious politicians need to prove they can deliver their constituencies to stake their claims to political office and a place in the party hierarchy.

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