Nigeria’s Renewed Hope for Democratic Development

BrookingsWhen the Union Jack was lowered in Nigeria on October 1, 1960, the potential of Africa’s most populous nation seemed boundless—and that was before its abundant reserves of petroleum and natural gas were fully known. However, Nigeria has since underperformed in virtually every area. A massive fuel shortage, just days before the historic change in political leadership, underlined how criminalized and dysfunctional the oil sector had become.

On May 29, Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president since 2010, will transfer power to a former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari. Despite important policy reforms, Jonathan will be remembered mainly for his unusual name and the failure to defeat Boko Haram. Similar transfers of power will take place in other federal and state offices. As a result of the March election, a new coalition, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has prized a commanding share of government positions from Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

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