Politics: Analysts forecast that All Nigeria’s Economic Sectors are at Risk


August 17, 2010


Nigeria FORECAST: Ruling PDP may split over Abubakar/Babangida poll challenges to Jonathan


Analysis: On August 15, Nigeria’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, formally declared his intention to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan as leader of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2011 general elections. Former head of state Ibrahim Babangida also vowed over the weekend that he will challenge Jonathan and promised to serve only one term. Abubakar who hails from Adamawa state in Nigeria’s north-east, and who is a Muslim, was prevented by former President Olusegun Obasanjo from pursuing the presidency in 2007. With Yar’Adua dead and Obasanjo in retirement, Abubakar, one of the founders of the ruling PDP, sees 2011 as his chance to make his final political stand.


While Abubakar is not popular with the intellectual classes or even the youth, he is widely popular among former governors and other PDP elites. Despite an attempt by some of the executives of the ruling PDP to bar Abubakar from running – any such attempt, if effectuated, will simply lead to a schism within the party, both at the state and federal levels.


In addition, the expected run by Babangida will exacerbate the tensions surrounding Abubakar’s run. Babangida, unlike Abubakar never left the PDP and therefore may not be barred from challenging Jonathan through procedural manipulations. Babangida is also slightly more popular than Abubakar and has the backing of scores of senior military officers. While Abubakar commands his support among the civilian leadership of the PDP in several states, Babangida has the strong backing of the ex-military class in a country ruled by the military for four decades.


With the current executives of the PDP agreeing to jettison the ‘zoning principle’ (which would have effectively barred Jonathan, a southern Christian from running in 2011), the raison d’être of the PDP is also now almost lost. The non-ideological omnibus party was formed in the late 1990s to reconcile the contending centrifugal nationalistic, regional, religious, tribal, ethnic, linguistic and ideological forces in Nigeria.


However, with the open primary now declared by the ruling PDP for its 2011 polls, Nigeria’s ‘managed democracy’ is now set to become a ‘relatively free democracy’ with both the ruling party and other smaller parties entrenching more openness and internal democracy. While these trends tearing at the PDP may seem positive and benign on the surface, in light of the ethno-religious and political history of the country – especially emanating from the Nigerian Civil War – the dismemberment of the PDP may hurl the country towards more political instability and perennial ethno-regional political tensions rather than blissful democracy.


If Abubakar and Babangida are barred from running against Jonathan (who, incidentally, has yet to formally declare his candidacy) – both will likely join hands with several other hundreds of disgruntled politicians and form a strong rival party to the PDP.


In the coming weeks, recent security gains in the restive Niger Delta will come under the enormous political strains that a PDP-torn asunder will engender. Militia groups will line up on opposite political platforms and canvass for their respective candidates, often employing violence. Nigerian crude oil output, which has in recent months increased to about 2 million barrels on average, will likely begin to witness shut-ins again imperiling about 60,00 – 150,000 bpd.


Economic Sectors at Risk – All, especially energy

For more detailed insights please contact:


Sebastian Spio-Garbrah

Managing Director & Chief Analyst, Frontier Markets


Tel: +1 917 593 7326


Nicole Elise Kearse Esq.

Deputy Managing Director, Head of Transactional & Cross Border Risks


Tel: +971 (0) 50 373 1590


Oswald Felli

Director, Security Risk Assessments


Tel +1 215 459 0164


Ari Korman

Director, Client Services


Tel: +1 201 660 2758



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