Nigeria Briefing Paper

He hoped that the american model would reverse this

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Unformatted text preview: Obasanjo believed that the Westminster parliamentary system facilitated the proliferation of ethnic-based political parties. He hoped that the American model would reverse this trend through the separation of powers and constitutional provisions for checks and balances. Obasanjo increased the number of states to 19, believing that it would be more difficult for the three main ethnic groups to manipulate the federal system in their favor at the expense of the many other smaller ethnic groups in the country. He believed that with more states, more ethnic groups would have political bases independent of the main groups, therefore more evenly distributing political power across all of the groups and regions. The new constitution also required that the successful presidential candidate obtain a majority of the popular vote, with at least 25 percent of the vote in 12 of the 19 states. Democratic elections were held in 1979, when Shehu Shagari, a Muslim HausaFulani from the north, was elected president. The three parties representing HausaFulani, Yoruba, and Igbo interests received the most votes, demonstrating the continued salience of ethnic politics in the country despite Obasanjo’s efforts to achieve the opposite. Shagari was reelected in 1983, amidst political violence and accusations of vote fraud. The courts subsequently reversed several controversial electoral contests, confirming for many that these accusations by the opposition were true. Shagari also had to contend with a global economic recession that resulted in a large drop in the price of oil. Given Nigeria’s increasing dependency on oil revenue, this limited government revenues and required the government to implement a series of unpopular austerity measures. Eroded political legitimacy and economic crisis proved too much for the Second Republic to withstand. Similar to the first attempt to establish a democratic order during 1960-66, the Second Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at 16 Republic served as a brief interlude between a succession of military leaders with limited interest in promoting political participation and democracy in the country. In a 1983 coup d’etat, another northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani assumed power, Major-General Muhammed Buhari, the former federal commissioner for petroleum. Buhari replaced the federal government with a Supreme Military Council and followed the rituals established by previous military leaders: he dismantled the Second Republic by banning political party activity, dissolving the legislature and asserting military control over the government. The economic malaise precipitated by declining oil revenues eroded support for the military leader, and after two years Major-General Ibrahim Babangida (also Muslim, but this time from the “middle belt” of the country) continued the cycle of military coups d’etat. Babangida remained in power until 1993—this time under the banner of the ethnically balanced Armed F...
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