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Vol 44 No 5

Published 7th March 2003


Nigeria

Outgunning the opposition

Shaky administration and growing political violence threaten the credibility of April's national elections

The political scene has been ominously quiet as several constitutional issues rumble. The most serious is whether the 18 April presidential election can be held within President Olusegun Obasanjo's mandate. The defeated aspirant for the ruling party's nomination, Alex Ekwueme, has launched a series of legal challenges to Obasanjo's candidacy; the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) has approved only a fraction of the candidates for elections at local, state and national level (AC Vol 44 No 3). Perhaps most damning, diplomatic sources described the electoral register compiled last September as 'about 50 per cent accurate'. The latest register, revamped in January, is said to be an improvement but has just under 67 million names on it. Given a median age of 15, that would give Nigeria a population of well over 140 mn., compared to United Nations and World Bank calculations of under 130 mn. Expect to hear accusations of millions of missing names and millions more inserted to favour the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).

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