Nigeria: Critical Condition

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is to be his party’s candidate in the April election. It will be the first time in twenty years that a civilian government has held polls. But the president is accused of failing to deal with corruption or manage the economy. Increased ethnic polarisation will also play a key part in voting.

The World Today
5 minute READ

Karl Maier

Writer for Bloomberg News and author of This House Has Fallen: Nigeria in Crisis, Penguin, 2001

When Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as Nigeria’s elected president in May 1999, he pledged to restore the confidence of the international community and the faith of his own people in Africa’s most populous nation and West Africa’s potential economic powerhouse. Fifteen years of military rule had bequeathed a state in critical condition, with a reputation as the world’s most corrupt nation, deepening religious and ethnic violence, and a widening belief among its hundred and twenty million citizens that perhaps it was time to consider the unthinkable: to dismember what the late Yoruba nationalist leader Obafemi Awolowo once described as a ‘mere geographical expression’ cobbled together by British colonisers.

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