Nigerians state elections to highlight simmering political tensions

Nigerians state elections to highlight simmering political tensions

Two weeks after re-electing President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians head to the polls once more today to vote in governors and

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Photo: Reuters

Two weeks after re-electing President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians head to the polls once more today to vote in governors and legislators for the country’s 36 states.

Because state governments determine education and health policies, today’s election is just as important for Nigerians as the presidential vote. State elections are also generally more violent than the presidential vote, particularly in the country’s north-east where jihadist groups control considerable territory.

Despite a pending legal challenge to the February presidential vote by opposition leader Atiku Abubakar—which is unlikely to be successful—there has been little in the way of violence or protests since Mr Buhari was re-elected.

That’s just as well, as the president faces a mountain of challenges in his second term. Nigeria’s economy continues to struggle, growing by just 1.9% last year after emerging from a recession. Meanwhile, the security situation remains dire—Boko Haram remains powerful and the Islamic State is increasing its presence in the north-east.

Nigeria is in dire need of reforms to diversify its oil-dependent economy and new ideas for addressing insecurity in the north-east, but President Buhari has generally been inflexible on policy. This suggests Nigeria’s economic and security woes will remain in the medium-term. In the meantime, a bloody election today would get Mr Buhari’s renewed mandate off to a rough start.

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