Nigeria. President Umaru Yar'Adua passed away in May. He
was admitted to a hospital in Saudi Arabia in November 2009
for heart problems and his long absence created a power
vacuum that during the winter began to be troublesome. The
rules for when, and under what circumstances, a sick
president had to be replaced were unclear and it was until
mid-February before Parliament gave Vice President Goodluck
Jonathan the power to step in as interim head of state.
Jonathan quickly put his own stamp on politics through an
extensive government reform, leaving only a handful of
Yar'Adua's ministers left. He also dismissed the head of the
state oil company NNPC and reinstated the man that Yar'Adua
had dismissed in 2009.
Nigeria has a population of 195.9 million (2018). Umaru Yar'Adua returned two weeks after Jonathan's
takeover, but was too ill to be able to resume his work.
Just over two months later he passed away. Jonathan
appointed Namadi Sambo as Vice President on the principle
that power should be shared between Christians from southern
Nigeria and Muslims from the north.
In principle, campaigns began immediately before the
general elections in 2011. Jonathan announced his intention
to run in the presidential elections in September, and in
the same vein, the Nobel laureate in literature, Wole
Soyinka, announced that he had formed a new party, the
Democratic Front for a People's Federation. Soyinka said the
party wants to strengthen young people's future faith and
take the lead in the fight against corruption. However, he
is not to be a candidate for any post himself.
A corruption charge forced the ruling party PDP (People's
Democratic Party) chairman Vincent Ogbulafor to resign. He
was replaced by party secretary Okwesilieze Nwodo.
At the beginning of the year, the area around the city of
Jos was shaken by repeated clashes between Christian and
Muslim groups, believed to have claimed a total of over 400
casualties. Religion, however, should have played little
role in the unrest, which was reported to have been
triggered by cattle theft. Rather, the violence was a result
of an increasingly common competition between herdsmen and
farmers in countries with reduced access to land.
The rebel movement MEND (the Niger Delta Liberation
Movement), believed to have more or less put down its
weapons, said it had been behind a series of car bomb
attacks in the capital Abuja in connection with Nigeria's
celebration of 50 years of independence. At least 12 people
were killed in the attacks. In October-November, the army
conducted raids in the Delta area and arrested hundreds of
suspected members of leagues specializing in kidnappings.
Dozens of people were exempted, most of the oil workers but
also schoolchildren who were robbed.
The extreme Muslim sect of Boko Haram, which appeared to
have been crushed by the security forces in 2009, released
at least 700 prisoners in September in a raid against a
prison in the city of Maiduguri. About 150 sect members were
among those who managed to escape. In the following weeks,
the sect carried out a series of attacks against police
stations in the region.
In April, Nigeria's 36 state governors recommended that
sentenced death sentences be enforced to reduce overcrowding
in prisons. Officially, no executions have been carried out
since 2002 but are believed to be done in secret.
Contemporary History of Nigeria
After its liberation in 1960 and until 1999, Nigeria was
characterized by frequent shifts of power, most often
through military coups. From 1999, the country has had a
continuous period of democracy and peaceful, civilian change
The country is still characterized by violence, carried
out by both state and non-state actors. Political violence
has been linked to elections. Three conflicts have
characterized the period after 1999: Resource conflicts over
oil in the Niger Delta, land conflicts in the Middle Belt
and the conflict with Boko Haram in the northeast.
Despite strong economic growth between 2000 and the
international fall in oil prices in 2014, there is still
great poverty and increasing economic inequality. The
country's strong oil dependency has made them particularly
vulnerable to fluctuations in the international oil price.