2019 Election: Nigeria at a crossroad

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo
4 min readApr 2, 2018

For over a decade, the drumbeat of Africa rising has been punctuated by the piano chords of Africa sliding back into its usual habits of poor governance, shrinking political space and corruption. No country manifests these mood swings like the West African nation of Nigeria.

Despite recent economic and democratic gains, the World Bank reported that more people currently live in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa than in 1981. Most of these extremely poor Africans live in Nigeria. In February, World Poverty Clock used data from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, United Nations and others to estimate that Nigeria has finally overtaken India as the country with the most people who live in extreme poverty. The World Bank estimates that there are 82 million people in Nigeria who live in extreme poverty, which is 42.4% of Nigeria’s 180 million people. According to the World Bank, extreme poverty is defined as people who live on less than $1.90 a day.

Besides poverty, or perhaps as a result of it, there are more failing states in Africa today than there were two decades ago. Africa is today a continent where radical Islamic insurgency is spreading from Boko Haram in the Chad Basin of West Africa to al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb and down to al Shabaab in East Africa.

In a 2017 Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine’s Fragile States Index, Nigeria was ranked 13. Nigeria shared the top 15 spots with countries like Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimated that as of December 2017, there were 1.9 million internally displaced people in Nigeria. The conflict between Fulani-Herdsmen and farmers across Nigeria’s middle belt region created a new batch of 200,000 displaced citizens in the last three months alone. Widespread corruption has continued unabated. In February, Transparency International reported that corruption had worsened in Nigeria, placing Nigeria at 148 out of 180 on the list of most corrupt countries in the world.

Nigeria’s socio-political situation was compounded by political unrest in the form of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, Niger Delta militancy in the South South and resurgence of secessionist movements in the South East and other regions in the South. While the Boko Haram insurgency placed Nigeria on the list of failing states, the militancy in the Niger Delta once disrupted oil production, which is the lifeline of the country. Crude oil sells account for 80%…

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo is the author of "This American Life Sef."