The postponement of Nigeria’s elections, just hours before the commencement of voting on Saturday last week, sent shockwaves across the country and beyond. Many people were concerned not just about the readiness of the country’s electoral management institution but also about the fate of democratic peace and security in Africa’s most populous country.
Nigerians vote tomorrow in what promises to be yet another watershed election, the first since the historic 2015 polls when the main opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), defeated the incumbent People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the first time in the country’s history. Four years later, several questions are pertinent: will history repeat itself with the main opposition PDP winning the presidential vote or will Nigerians give the ruling APC another four years? Will the presidential election be a photo-finish, produce a clear victor, or stretch into an unprecedented second round? Given the complexity of Nigerian politics and the fickleness of recent trends in electoral results, most political pundits, except those already aligned with one of the two major parties, remain very cautious.
There are others who are focused not on the individual or party that wins, but what the outcome would mean for Nigeria’s delicate geopolitical balancing, and the question of which of the country’s six geopolitical zones is next in line to make a bid for the highest office in the land in 2023. Yet for most Nigerian’s the elections are all about who can quickly deliver the dividends of democracy: jobs, better quality of life, education, efficient and accessible basic infrastructure and health-care services, security, peace, and a favorable economic environment for international investors, local manufacturers, and businesses. Members of the various factions of the political class are pulling out all the stops in a desperate bid to capture or retain power over Africa’s largest oil state.
In this special issue, four African Peacebuilding Network alumni, Azeez Olaniyan, Titilope Ajayi, Noah Ettah, and Shola Omotola, bring their analytical expertise and various perspectives to bear on the ramifications of last week’s postponement of Nigeria’s 2019 elections. As Nigerians vote on February 23, the world is watching Africa’s largest democracy and one of the continent’s most pivotal states. The following articles identify and explain the history and factors that may have led to the February 16 postponement, and the prospects for Nigeria’s democracy after tomorrow’s vote:
- The Postponement of Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: Is Democracy on Hold? by Titilope Ajayi
- The Postponement of the 2019 Nigerian Elections: Implications for Democracy, Peace, and Security, by Noah Echa Attah
- Repeating Past Failures: Nigeria’s Election Umpire and the Legacy of Poll Cancellations, by Azeez Olaniyan
- The Challenge of Electoral Management in Nigeria, by J. Shola Omotola