Thursday, 19 March 2015

Nigeria's election-winners

Three issues – corruption, jobs and security – have dominated campaigning in what promises to be Nigeria’s closest ever presidential election, on 28 March. All three put President Goodluck Jonathan’s government on the back foot as it faced a resurgent national opposition under former military head of state General Muhammadu Buhari.

The six-week delay in the elections, announced on 7 February, has certainly helped Jonathan. The government claimed that by 17 March its armed forces, aided by Chad and Cameroon, had pushed Boko Haram out of 17 of the 20 local government areas in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states that it controlled at the beginning of the year. Although the fightback has bolstered the government’s military credibility, it is still exposed on jobs and corruption.

Voters across the country – not just in the opposition’s northern heartlands – take seriously claims by the former central bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that about US$1 billion a month in oil revenues were not reaching government coffers. Worse for Jonathan, many are attributing fuel shortages, rising unemployment and power cuts to those claimed diversions. That’s why Buhari and the opposition All Progressives Congress have rallied supporters with promises of 'positive change' and a crackdown on malfeasance. Yet the government's ability to spring surprises – such as the recent military turnaround – means the two candidates are going neck and neck into the final straight.

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