John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Nigeria: Presidential Elections

by John Campbell
April 18, 2011

Barricades burn on a street, after the release of the presidential election results, in Kano, northern Nigeria April 18, 2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

In a First Take published today on, I suggest that the results of Nigeria’s presidential election both mirror and promote the bifurcation between the predominantly Muslim North and the largely Christian South—and that the early poll results have in turn exacerbated the country’s divisions.

In the meantime, numerous credible reports today describe widespread riots in northern Nigeria, a violent reaction to the news that Jonathan has almost certainly won the presidential election. Already, Nasir El-Rufai, speaking for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), suggested that the presidential elections were not credible and that CPC “will prove it in due course.” Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the results of the election this afternoon, at the time of writing CPC and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) officials have refused to sign the results declaring Jonathan the official winner of the poll. Events over the next 24 hours will indicate the North’s short-term reaction to Jonathan’s apparent victory: if the perception grows that the election was rigged, I worry that the unrest will continue or perhaps even worsen.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Joshua Gogo

    The results of the Presidential elections did not show a North-South divide, contrary to the analysis presented here. What it shows more than anything else is religious divide, strengthened by a minority solidarity. This much was evident in the distribution of votes across the North, especially in Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa and the middle belt States.

  • Posted by Ernest Richards, JD, CPA, MBA

    Mr Jonathan clearly won this Presidential election. By and large this election is considered antiseptic and all international observers resonate with the results because it was fair and without the usual rancour. The rampage by some in the north affects Nigeria GDP and limits direct foreign investments which hurts jobs and creates poverty. The election of Dr jonathan is a bet on a better future for all Nigerians and a clean image for all Nigerians. If Nigeria were a stock I will buy a call option. I will go as far as to predict a strengthening of the Naira against the dollar and an upgrade on the debt rating of Nigeria

  • Posted by Rabia Eshak

    The results of the presidential election indicate the possibility that the votes were meticulously engineered in the north to give the ruling party an edge. While the whole south voted along tribal and religious divides, the north was used to prop up the president’s need for the required spread to emerge as the winner. Nigerians should note that the time has come for all of us to rise above tribal and religious sentiments and vote for change. 12 years of missed opportunities under PDP is enough reason for all of us to unite and work towards truly moving this great country forward.

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