President Muhammadu Buhari won a second term to lead Nigeria, the country’s elections authority said on 27 February, while his main opponent promised to challenge the result in court. Buhari defeated Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and businessman, by almost 4 million votes. Turnout was nearly 35 percent of Nigeria’s 82 million registered voters, while at least 53 people were killed in various violent incidents across the country. On Wednesday, Atiku called the election result a “sham” and said he would challenge it in court. He accused soldiers in some states of turning “their guns on the very citizens they were meant to protect.” He also said it was a “statistical impossibility” that there was higher voter turnout in areas “ravaged by the war” against terrorist groups, like Boko Haram, and there were voting disruptions in his party’s strongholds.

The All Progressives Congress has won no fewer than 62 senatorial seats out of 98 results of last Saturday’s senatorial elections. The results, which were officially released by INEC in the senatorial districts, showed that the opposition PDP had won 35 seats in the Ninth Senate. The YPP won a seat in Anambra. Meanwhile, no fewer than 15 former governors will be in the Senate. This list includes, two Abia ex-governors, Orji Kalu and his successor, Theodore Orji, the incumbent Governor; Kashim Shettima, a former Borno governor, Sam Egwu, former Ebonyi governor; former Gombe governor, Danjuma Goje, the outgoing Imo governor, Rochas Okorocha; outgoing Ogun governor, Ibikunle Amosu, who had a stint representing the Ogun Central District between 2003 and 2007, a former senator and former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, is also returning to the Senate, where he represented Enugu East between 2007 and 2011. In all, 38 senators will be returning to the National Assembly.

The claims that Royal Dutch Shell owed billions in taxes to Nigeria could delay the development of a major oil field, the firm said on 26 February. Last week, the FG had ordered oil giants, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Eni, Total and Equinor, to pay nearly $20 billion in taxes and outstanding royalties for oil and gas production in the country. According to Shell’s head of upstream, Andy Brown, the company, the largest investor in the country’s oil industry, would likely dispute the charges, stating that the issue has gone through the courts in Nigeria, which relates to an original clause within the original production sharing contracts. However, the firm said it will have to resolve the issue of the outstanding tax, which will delay the final investment decision on developing Shell’s Bonga Southwest deepwater oil field. It is one of Nigeria’s largest oilfields with production expected to reach 180,000 barrels per day.

Multiple explosions rocked Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State on Saturday, 23 February. Seven explosions were heard between 5:50 am and 6 am. ISWAP claimed the attack in an online post hours before the elections kicked off, stating that it fired ten missiles at military positions in the city and the airport, killing up to 21 people. Meanwhile, Sokoto and Zamfara witnessed a series of attacks on Monday, 25 February. In Sokoto, sixteen people were confirmed killed in an attack by armed bandits on three villages in Rabah Local Government Area on Monday night. The villages affected are Dalijan, Rakkoni, and Kalhu. Finally, a police officer and 28 other people were killed and scores injured in an attack on Maro and other villages in Kajuru and Kachia local government areas of Kaduna State on Tuesday, 26 February.

Commentary

  • The Independent National Electoral Commission has declared a winner, and that winner is the incumbent, President Buhari. Atiku Abubakar has also declared his intentions to seek respite in the courts – a path President Buhari has taken in the past and we are glad that Atiku has chosen to follow the rule of law as opposed to stoking violence. It would be a worthy statement of the development of Nigerian democracy if all parties follow the rule of law in making sense of the vote’s aftermath.
  • The Senate will miss many of its veterans for the first time in this dispensation. This has its pros – it speaks to a general maturity in the country’s democracy, and its cons – years of legislative experience is lost. When we juxtapose this with the influx of ex-governors and deputy governors, the driver for entering the Nigerian senate becomes clearer – political relevance, as opposed to effective representation. While the 2019 election season appears to indicate that Nigerians are paying more attention to the legislative elections, it is hard to escape the impression that the country’s politics continues to look like a revolving door of the same political cadre.
  • Nigeria’s oil industry has always been an opaque sector in which various government officials have enriched themselves by making deals with industry players to the detriment of the country. The details of the outstanding taxes and royalties remain unclear but unlike the MTN foreign exchange repatriation case which was quickly settled out of court, this is likely to end up being a drawn-out legal fight. For a start, unlike MTN, Nigeria needs the oil majors more than they need Nigeria, and that gives them an incentive not to blink first. In the interim, this, along with the continued failure to finalise the Petroleum Industry Bill, will likely have a negative impact on foreign direct investment in the oil sector as investors continue to express concern about policy shifts by officials in Abuja.
  • Most of the attacks by bandits have been in Zamfara and parts of Kaduna states. The attacks in Sokoto illustrate the risk of the security situation expanding across the North West. As we have previously stated, there is an urgent need to prevent these attacks, and to get to the root of this conflict, while also understanding the principal actors, their motivations, modus operandi, and how they are financed. A failure to achieve this risks a wider conflagration across Sokoto and possibly spilling into Kebbi State which borders it to the south.