The April 2003 elections in Nigeria, the first civilian administered elections to take place in two decades, were hailed as the largest in African history and are surely a major milestone for both the country and the continent. Although they were marred by serious irregularities they were historic – instead of a military coup, a civilian government was to be succeeded by another civilian government. President Olusegun Obasanjo won with 62 per cent of the vote, and his party scored huge victories in the National Assembly and the State Assembly elections. In the face of predictions of violence, Nigerians defied the odds and went to the polls peacefully in most parts of the country. Turnout was high, and there also appeared to be a respectable geographic spread of the winning party’s base of support. But these encouraging facts and other optimistic assessments of the elections offer only superficial portraits of an outcome that remains far more uncertain.
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Categories: Journal of African Elections