'Elections na suffer head': the presidential voting was going on as we went to press, and President Olusegun Obasanjo was expected to win.

Author:Sheyin, Ola
Position:Around Africa: Nigeria
 
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For the first time in its independence history, polling day for most of the Nigerian elections (12 April)--for the upper and lower houses of parliament and state assemblies--was much calmer. In fact the security situation was not anywhere as dismal as was hitherto anticipated. But people still feared that the actual presidential polling day (19 April) might just spoil the whole show.

The lack of extreme violence, intimidation and electoral malpractice in the conduct of these civilian-to-civilian elections of 60 million registered voters, were the real surprise and not the overwhelming defeat of notable and incumbent politicians in the upper and lower houses.

Admittedly, there were reports of sharp practices and minor disturbances across the nation during the campaign, but generally not enough to taint the overall direction of the people's votes--and nowhere near the level expected given the pre-election tension and string of assassinations. Several politicians lost their lives in direct assassinations in the run-up to the elections--two of the more prominent being Marshall Harry, who co-ordinated the affairs of the opposition All Nigeria's People's Party in Rivers State, and Obasanjo's minister of justice, Chief Bola Ige.

The police claimed not to have enough information to solve these political murders, but did take a giant step in arranging a "big fish" for the former minister's murder. Iyiola Omisore, the deputy governor of Ige's home state, Osun, was impeached and expelled from his party. He however insisted on staying on in politics even if it meant changing parties, and contesting for one of the state's senatorial seats head to head against a former...

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