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

Since its independence in 1960, 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 its first democratic transfer of power when Muhammadu Buhari became President in 2015. In 2019, he was confirmed in office through a flawed election process. After the election had been postponed at extremely short notice, voter turnout was only 36 per cent.

Key issues on the agenda of the Nigerian government are security, anti-corruption and economic reforms. However, the à security situation has worsened continuously since 2019.

2019 elections

In addition to the presidential elections, Nigeria also held parliamentary elections at the national level and gubernatorial and parliamentary elections at the state level in 2019.

During the gubernatorial and regional elections, observers noted many irregularities, such as logistical problems, technical deficits, and violence and intimidation on the part of the military and the police.

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. In November 2020, Nigeria ratified the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The country is also working to strengthen the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which seeks to create a single market for its 15 member states and engage 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 government arbitrariness. Human rights organisations have criticised, in particular, the way in which police and military forces treat suspected supporters of the Boko Haram terrorist group and the way in which members of the Shiite minority and political activists are treated. Demonstrations against police violence in the second half of 2020 were crushed by government security forces.

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

Many women and girls in the country suffer from gender-based discrimination and sexualised violence. According to a report by human rights organisation Amnesty International, the number of rapes has increased massively during the COVID-19 pandemic. An important step for the protection of women's and girls' rights was taken in 2015, when female genital mutilation, which used to be widely practised, was banned.

Legislators refuse to give equal rights to LGBTI people. Homosexual acts are a criminal offence.