Nigeria Between 1979 and 1993
After 13 years of military rule, the Second Republic was inaugurated on 1 October 1979, with the entry into force of a new Constitution and the establishment as president of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. The return to a civilian regime of Nigeria, the ” giant ” of the African continent, had value for the entire continent as an inversion of the tendency towards the militarization of political power that had characterized the previous decade.
According to HEALTH-BEAUTY-GUIDES.COM, the elections took place between July and August, according to a very complex mechanism. Shagari’s victory had not been without controversy, because, despite having obtained the relative majority of the voters, just over a third, he won the required percentage of 25% in 12 of the 19 states of the Federation and not in 13, as some had deemed necessary on the basis of a controversial interpretation of the law. Beyond the technicalities, the problem was to know whether the federal concept would impose itself on the inveterate habit of making regionalisms and ethnicisms prevail. The same party as Shagari, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), was above all the expression of the political and economic world of the North, and soon the government showed the tendency to transform itself, behind the ” national ” facade, into a power group centered on the Muslim oligarchy. In the federal parliament, the NPN allied itself with the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP), whose most prominent member was former president Nigeria Azikiwe, who came third in the 1979 election behind Shagari and O. Awolowo. The blockade somehow repeated the coalition between North and East that had characterized the policy of the Nigeria from independence (1960) to the first coup in 1966.
The agreement lasted less than two years; in 1981 the NPP formed, with the United Party of Nigeria (UPN) of Awalowo, an alliance, known as the Progressive Parties’ Alliance (PPA), which provoked a different alignment of political forces in Parliament and in the country, proposing rather a blockade of the southern states. NPN officials began to talk about the need to remedy the fragmentation and conflicts by creating a one-party system. At the same time, Nigeria’s development program was endangered by the collapse of oil prices, on which it depended for 90%. From 1980 there were signs of protest and revolt at the hands of an Islamic movement that found consensus among the discontented and the impoverished masses. The repression was very hard, and the crisis manifested itself in a particular way precisely in the North, where in theory Shagari had his fiefs.
Other problems came to Shagari from the unfortunate mediation efforts in the Chadian civil war and the intensification of relations with racist South Africa. At the beginning of 1983 his image in Africa was further compromised by the decision to expel about 2 million illegal immigrants, mainly from Ghana and Cameroon. In view of the 1983 elections, Shagari pardoned the ancient head of the Biafra secession, Ojukwu, who returned to his homeland after 12 years of exile, to try to divide the Ibo, normally aligned with the NPP. The electoral competition led to the end of the UPN-NPP agreement. Strengthened by a greater organization and taking advantage of its positions of power, Shagari’s party obtained a clear victory (12 million votes, equal to 47% of the votes cast, 60 seats out of 96 in the Senate and 264 out of 450 in the Chamber), also securing 13 out of 19 governors. Numerically, the success was indisputable, but the feeling that it had been obtained by illicit means was widespread. Indeed, Shagari barely had time to be sworn in for the second time as president (October 1, 1983), because on December 31 of the same year the armed forces again took power.
A supreme military council was formed headed by gen. M. Buhari. In August 1985, another coup d’etat brought gen. I. Babangida. The government engaged in grueling and sterile negotiations with the International Monetary Fund in order to cope with the severe financial situation (the Nigeria is one of the big debtors: 30 billion dollars in 1989) and in 1986 it adopted a two-year adjustment plan.
The program for the re-establishment of a civil government was based on an even too perfect constitutional engineering (inspired by the presidentialism of the United States): a center-right party (National Republican Convention) and a center-left party (Social Democratic Party ), created ” from above ” to avoid a relapse into regionalism, and the formation of elected bodies starting from the lowest steps of the administration towards the top. The decision to move the capital from Lagos to Abuja was confirmed. The deadline, originally scheduled for 1992, was postponed to August 1993. Local elections were held in 1987 and 1989; in June 1988 the Constituent Assembly was established which in 1989 approved the new Constitution. In 1992 the Parliament was elected, composed of the Senate (91 members) and the House of Representatives (593 members), with the success of the Social Democrats in both branches. The presidential elections of 12 June 1993, won by the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, M. Abiola (a Muslim Yoruba from the West) were canceled for unspecified reasons (irregularities, insufficient turnout). The gen. Babangida nevertheless confirmed his commitment to complete the procedure for establishing the civil government of what should be the Fourth Republic. In July 1993 the movement Campaign for Democracy, a coalition of human rights groups and trade union movements asking Babangida to recognize the result of the June 12 elections, called for protest, but the army’s intervention resulted in about a hundred deaths. In August Babangida withdrew and was replaced by E. Shonekan, former president of the most important Nigerian industry, who assumed the post of interim head of state with the aim of bringing the country united to the presidential elections. Even in October there were incidents on the occasion of a three-day general strike organized by Abiola’s supporters.