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Happy Nigerian Independence: A Look Back In Time, Part 2

ARISE: Nigeria's flag

PART 1 of this piece was published earlier today at 10am GMT.


More trouble was to follow, however, as Nigeria was suspended from membership of the Commonwealth for contravening the principles of the Harare Commonwealth Declaration amidst calls for the release of Abiola and 43 other political prisoners.

When Obasanjo became president in May 1999, Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth was lifted. The 1999 constitution, which permitted the practice of Sharia law for consenting Muslims, opened the way for some northern states – led by Zamfara State in October 1999 – to seek to implement it. This plunged the country into a heated controversy and violence, as Christians in these states were unconvinced by assurances that it would not adversely affect them. This continued as the northern states successively adopted Sharia law.

Obasanjo had already led Nigeria as a military leader, but his election to the office of president in 1999 marked Nigeria’s return to civilian rule. Obasanjo won 62 per cent of the vote and his election day is now marked as Democracy Day, a public holiday in the country.


In his first term in office, Obasanjo spent most of his time travelling abroad to reassure potential investors, especially those in the US and UK, that the oil industry was stable and that Nigeria was a fair and democratic country. Obasanjo was granted a second term in office in 2003 by Nigerians, winning 61 per cent of the vote and defeating former military leader Muhammadu Buhari.

After the controversial elections of 2007, Umaru Yar’Adua was declared the winner and assumed the presidential office of Nigeria. Former president Obasanjo endorsed his candidacy, as his record showed no signs of corruption and/or ethnic favouritism. While in office, Yar’Adua fell ill and was unable to uphold his presidential duties. This led to him being absent from public life and a dangerous situation was arising in Nigeria. His powers were transferred to vice president Goodluck Jonathan, who took over as an acting president during this time.

As Yar’Adua’s vice president, Jonathan was known for keeping a low profile, although he was instrumental in negotiating with Nigerian militants to achieve stability.

After becoming president due to the illness and death of Yar’Adua, Jonathan contested the 2011 Nigerian elections, winning the presidency. Jonathan implemented a strategy to stabilise the power supply of Nigeria, as blackouts were costing the economy millions, if not billions of dollars.

Jonathan was also considered to be a staunch opposition of Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group, even though his armed forces were not able to defeat the group that still operates today.

Having contested in the previous election, Muhammadu Buhari was finally successful in his 2015 bid to become president. Sworn in on May 29, 2015, Buhari became the second ex-military leader to become president of Nigeria. After being elected, Buhari was also known as a strong voice against Boko Haram, urging Nigerians to put aside their differences in order to crush the Islamic insurgency.

He is still in power today as Nigeria marks its 57th independence celebrations.

To read part 1 of this piece, click here.

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