Nigeria’s presidential election is fast approaching, and is likely to be very contentious. The Muslim-led opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), has said that it will form a schismatic “parallel government” in the event of a contested election. Council on Foreign Relations fellow John Campbell details just how hard it will be for Nigeria to hold an election whose legitimacy can’t be contested:
Even in the unlikely event that the polling and ballot-counting goes smoothly, there will be potential questions about the February 14 elections. At present, there is no provision for internally displaced persons (IDP’s) who probably number in excess of one million, to vote. Most of them are from areas that traditionally have supported the opposition. Further, the three northern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, where the Islamist jihadist movement Boko Haram has the most control, have traditionally supported the opposition. At present, it is unlikely that most people in these three states will be able to vote.
Boko Haram is expected to do what it can to interfere with these elections. Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, has mocked both candidates in a recent address, calling the APC’s Muhammadu Buhari an “infidel” and threatening further attacks as election day approaches.Nigeria already faces destabilization due to the conquest of its northern region and widespread skepticism that the military can contain Boko Haram, let alone stamp it out. If there’s anything it doesn’t need right now, it’s a contested election and the prospect of a divided government. Unfortunately, that’s just what it might get.