Nigeria's Presidential election is culminating in a tight race to the line between incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and challenger Muhammadu Buhari. Nigerian society is deeply divided. Poverty and corruption is widespread and the country has been shaken by a violent conflict with the jihadist terror organization Boko Haram. There are fears of renewed violence as the election approaches.
Earlier this year President Jonathan postponed the election, originally scheduled for February, to the end of March citing what he called security concerns. With the support of neighboring countries the government recently launched a military offensive against Boko Haram. But so far the results have been modest and have not reduced the terror organization's ability to carry out deadly attacks across the country.
Many Nigerians are critical of Jonathan saying for not responding forcefully enough to the Boko Haram threat and doing little to counter poverty and corruption. The predominantly Muslim north of the country where Boko Haram has its roots is extremely poor, state structures function badly if they exist at all. The more Christian south, where President Jonathan has his home base, has profited more from Nigeria's rich oil reserves. The people in the north say they have been neglected by central government.
The muslim challenger Mohammadu Buhari has been campaigning on a promise to fight poverty, violence and corruption. He's counting on strong support in the north. Many voters believe Buhari who is a retired Major General would fight Boko Haram more effectively. The seventy-two year old led the country as dictator between 1983 and 1985 but lost out to Jonathan at the last democratic election in 2011.
Whoever wins the election it will be a severe test for Nigerian democracy. Observers fear that a narrow election victory could lead to flare-up in violence across the country.
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John Emeka Akude – studied International Relations in his home country, Nigeria, before moving to Germany to study at the University of Cologne. He has lectured at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Cologne and was an advisor at Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Until recently, he was a researcher at the German Development institute where his focus is on conflict and conflict management in Africa as well as Africa’s role in international relations. He now works as an independent political consultant.
Robert Kappel – is Emeritus President and Senior Research Fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg. His research currently focuses on power, norms and governance in international relations, as well as on socio-economic developments stemming from globalisation. His most recent published work is on Boko Haram and the crisis in Nigeria.
Bettina Gaus - is a political correspondent for the German daily newspaper "taz." After studying political science she attended the German School of Journalism (DJS) in Munich and worked as a free-lance journalist, later reporting from Nairobi about East and Central Africa. From 1996 to 1999 she headed the parliamentary office of the "taz." Bettina Gaus has written several books, most recently a work about Africa's middle class.