Nigeria. For Nigeria 2004 was another troubled year. In May, the Christian militia attacked the Muslim-dominated town of Yelwa in the state of Plateau, killing between 200 and 300 people. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Nigeria is 206,139,600 people in 2020. The attack was seen as part of the same kind of conflict between resident peasants and herdsmen as in many other African countries, where the earth is not enough for everyone. The government announced a state of emergency throughout the state and suspended the governor for six months. At the same time, at least 36 Christians were killed by Muslim militia in Kano, northern Nigeria. In total, in both conflict areas, more than 140,000 people were driven from their homes. During the autumn, a month-long peace conference was held in Plateau where the land issue was discussed.
In September, according to Amnesty International, more than 500 people were killed in fighting between armed leagues in the oil town of Port Harcourt in south-eastern Nigeria. The leagues are believed to have been formed by local politicians prior to the 2003 elections and have since gone to crime, including. theft from oil lines. A Muslim fundamentalist armed movement called itself Taliban was active in a couple of northern states, where it attacked police stations and stole weapons. At least one of the leaders was said to have received training in guerrilla operations in Afghanistan.
In protest of sharply increased gasoline and other petroleum products prices, trade unions carried out several nationwide strikes to pressure the government to reverse the decision to abolish state subsidies. In September, the gasoline price was raised by about 23%, but before the threat of another major strike in November, the government lowered the price by 10%. Several strikes also occurred in the oil industry, which to some extent contributed to the autumn’s high oil price on the world market. In July, all production at the French company Total was down for six days after a conflict with the local employees. Total accounts for about 10% of Nigerian oil production.
Several northern Nigerian Muslim states’ refusal to allow polio vaccination of children jeopardized WHO’s efforts to eradicate the disease in the region. The foreign vaccine was allegedly intended to sterilize African girls. Only since Indonesian vaccine was purchased could the planned mass vaccination be initiated during the autumn.
The ruling party PDP (People’s Democratic Party) prevailed in most areas in the municipal elections, which after a long delay were held in March. However, the interest was very low and the choice was bordered by violence with close to 50 deaths.
In October, a trial presidential election was held, which included candidates from the center-left Social Democracy and the center-right Republicans – both parties formed by the military dictatorship and with largely similar political programs – as well as 23 other candidates. However, President Babangida canceled the election results after allegations of electoral fraud, banned all candidates and replaced the leadership of the two major parties. At the same time, the dictatorship banned any political activity, which drastically changed the plan for transition to democracy at the beginning of 93.
In November, Babangida postponed the June 93 presidential election and reaffirmed the ban on former presidential candidates’ participation in the election. At the same time, the transfer of power was postponed to August 93. On June 12, the first presidential election was held since 83. However, the dictatorship postponed the publication of the result until investigations into possible fraud were carried out. The battle was between the candidates of the two major parties. They had been allowed to participate but without the original candidates who had been banned the year in advance.
But history repeated itself. On June 23, Babangida canceled the result, accusing the candidates of the two major parties of “buying their votes.” The apparent victor of the election was the Social Democrat and millionaire Abiola. He now went to London in an attempt to secure international condemnation of the regime. The United States and the United Kingdom canceled their financial assistance to the country, suspended the training of officers and cooled diplomatic relations. The foreign reaction was an encouragement for Abiola, calling for civil disobedience. Major protests erupted in the former capital of Lagos, killing at least 25 people by federal soldiers. Furthermore, the Alliance “The Campaign for Democracy” was formed consisting of 25 opposition parties.
Faced with considerable pressure, the dictatorship printed a new presidential election until August 14, with the subsequent transfer of power on the 27th. The clashes continued, and on August 26, Babangida resigned from the presidential post, provisionally left to Ernest Shonekan, who promised to hold new elections.
The month after, Abiola returned from London and the trade union movement declared a general strike to get him recognized as Nigeria’s president. At the end of 93, the crisis was “resolved” when Defense Secretary General Sani Abacha removed Shonekan, dissolved parliament and banned any political activity. This new “strong man” had been an influential figure in the old military dictatorship and played a leading role in the coup in 83. In one of his first statements, he said that some of the liberal economic reforms that had been carried out in the 1980s would be abandoned.
Interest rates fell and currency controls were introduced, while any possibility of a deal with the IMF was pushed out in the future. Meanwhile, the public pressure to rehabilitate Abiola continued, and when he was arrested in June 94, it triggered a 10-day strike among workers in the oil industry – the country’s most important.
However, Abacha did not succumb to any pressure for the release of Abiola. In April 95, Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela to represent Abiola in release – but unsuccessfully. Despite Abiola agreeing to the cancellation of the June 93 election, the President of Nigeria refused to release him.