15 June 2011
By Paul Lubeck and Michael Watts
For the first time in Nigerian history a southern minority was declared the President, in the April 2011 elections. In winning 25 percent of the votes in 31 of the 36 states in the federation, Goodluck Jonathan easily passed the constitutional requirement for victory in what was uniformly recognised by all reputable monitors as peaceful, credible and orderly elections.
Inevitably there were irregularities. Intra-party elections and primaries were often farcical, marked by breaches of due process and manipulative machine-party politics. The national elections were marred by logistic and procedural problems and, in some, though by no means all states, by some ballot box stuffing, below age voters, intimidation and outright purchase of votes. And yet, when President Jonathan met last week with Barack Obama he could rightly claim that the electoral process has laid the foundation - a foundation requiring further consolidation between now and 2015 - for a new democratic dispensation.