The coming elections are about the survival of Nigeria's federation
as much as President Obasanjo's career
Two years before the next national elections, decision-making comes a poor second to political manoeuvring - and that threatens the few recent successes in reforming the mismanaged and corrupt economy. Worse, electioneering may jeopardise the sensitive negotiations over Nigeria's federation of states. In the south, the clamour is growing for a national conference about devolving power to the regions and states; in the north, there are fears the region would lose out economically if the federation were weaker. President Olusegun Obasanjo is cautious about all this. He was known to oppose a national constitutional conference, preferring to give the job to the wayward National Assembly. His allies now say he is willing to consider a conference, both to help the ruling People's Democratic Party's electoral position and to slow down the centrifugal forces pushing for radical constitutional change, if not for breaking up the federation. The limits of the federation are being tested even without a national conference.
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