Don't mention the economy: Pini Jason reports from Lagos how 30 parties campaigning for votes in the 19 April elections have still managed not to talk seriously about the economy.

Author:Jason, Pini
Position:Around Africa: Nigeria - Brief Article

The 19 April elections are expected to consolidate democracy and signal to the world Nigeria's readiness to be counted as investment-friendly. Sadly the economy has not been a big issue in the campaign so far. Rather, the key issues have been ethnicity and religion.

The Southwest-based Alliance for Democracy has tactically decided not to field a presidential candidate against President Olusegun Obasanjo. Critics believe that the move was ethnically motivated.

Similarly, the Southeast has strained to reduce the plethora of presidential candidates to one in order to better its chances of grabbing power at the centre, while the rival PDP has tried hard to rubbish General Muhammadu Buhari as an Islamic hardliner. So far, the loudest campaign on religious and ethnic grounds has surprisingly come from the former Biafran leader, Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Speaking to the BBC, he boasted: "I believe all Christians will vote with me. I can get Igbo votes anywhere, any time."

Why the economy has not been a serious issue in the campaign is hard to fathom. In February, the Central Bank of Nigeria reported that the economy was underperforming. The Gross Domestic Product grew only by 3.3% against the projected 5%. Inflation stood at 13.2% at the end of last year and has remained in double digits since. But no...

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