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Nigerian Political Transition Sets Model for Other African Elections

Nigerian former Gen. Muhammadu Buhari speaks moments after he was presented with a certificate to show he won the election in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to Buhari, a 72-year-old former military dictator, who was elected in a historic transfer of power following the nation's most hotly contested election ever. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Nigerian former Gen. Muhammadu Buhari speaks moments after he was presented with a certificate to show he won the election in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to Buhari, a 72-year-old former military dictator, who was elected in a historic transfer of power following the nation’s most hotly contested election ever. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

 

(The Hill) – On May 29, Nigeria will experience, for the first time in its history, a peaceful transfer of power between two political parties. Since 1999, when the then-government of Nigeria allowed new political parties to form, Nigeria has been governed by one party, the People’s Democratic Party. In March, Gen. Muhamadu Buhari, the candidate of the opposing coalition party, All Progressives Congress, succeeded in winning the presidential election, marking a critical juncture in the democratic transition timeline of this African country.

Both incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and his main rival, President-elect Buhari, have been committed in their management of the transition process, charting unfamiliar territory in the Nigerian political landscape and setting a solid precedent for their African neighbors on how opposing political parties can peacefully transfer power. Nigerians have shown to the world that such a transition is possible on a continent that is more familiar with “presidents for life.”

The organization I represent, the International Republican Institute (IRI), was honored to be present for these historic elections. IRI, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), which form a consortium of partners working on democracy and governance issues, often work together in countries in transition around the globe.

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