Political situation Deficits in the area of democracy and the rule of law

Since gaining independence 60 years ago, Nigeria has experienced numerous political crises. After three decades of military rule, a process of democratisation began in 1999.

Gate in the Nigerian capital Abuja

Gate in the Nigerian capital Abuja

Gate in the Nigerian capital Abuja

The country saw the first democratic change of power when Muhammadu Buhari became President in 2015. His campaign focused on security, anti-corruption efforts and economic stabilisation.

However, in spite of his readiness to pursue reforms, he was unable to achieve his goals during his first term in office. In particular, the security situation has deteriorated again in the recent past.

2019 elections

In February and March 2019, parliamentary and presidential elections were held in Nigeria, as well as gubernatorial and regional parliamentary elections at the state level. President Buhari was confirmed in office. However, since the election was postponed at extremely short notice, voter turnout was only 36 per cent.

During the gubernatorial and regional elections, observers identified many irregularities, such as logistical problems, technical deficits regarding biometric card readers, and violence and intimidation on the part of the military and the police, especially in states where opposition parties were in the lead. The opposition has lodged a petition challenging the results of the elections.

The European Union election observation mission considered the outcome of the elections to be credible notwithstanding the deficits but called for a reform of the voting system.

Foreign policy activities

Nigeria sees itself as an emerging economy, and is taking on responsibility in the international political arena, for instance in United Nations military and police missions. As a regional leader, it plays a significant role in determining the policies of the African Union.

Nigeria is also working to strengthen the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with the goal of creating a single market for its 15 member states and engaging in joint efforts in the area of conflict prevention and management. Nigeria is the only member of ECOWAS that has not yet signed the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.

Human rights

The human rights situation in Nigeria has improved significantly since the end of military dictatorship in 1999. But citizens are still not adequately protected against arbitrary action by the government. Human rights organisations report, among other things, extrajudicial executions, systematic torture, inhuman prison conditions, and disappearances of boys and men who are suspected of being connected with the "Boko Haram" terrorist group.

Twelve of the northern states apply Islamic Sharia law. The death penalty continues to exist in Nigeria.

Many women and girls suffer from gender-based discrimination. An important step was taken in 2015, when female genital mutilation, which used to be widely practised, was banned.