After independence in 1960, Nigeria was marked by several coups and mostly military rule, until the death of a military head of state – the Army general Sani Abacha – in 1998. This led to a political transition and restoration of democracy in 1999. Since then the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had dominated Nigerian politics prevailing in all elections until a catastrophic result at the last poll in 2015, which was marked by the victory of the opposition party, All Progressives Congress Party (APC), in both the House of Assembly and Senate as well as of its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
The Progressives Congress Party (APC) was formed in February 2013 as a merger of the country’s three main opposition parties − the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and it managed to cement its position as it received the backing of many defected legislators between late 2013 and earlier 2014.
The former Muslim general Muhammadu Buhari, who unsuccessfully ran for the office of President in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 general elections, managed to emerge in December 2014, as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the March 2015 general elections which he won, defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Nevertheless, despite holding control at both the federal and state layers of government, as a merger of different parties, the APC lacks ideological coherence. Therefore, maintaining unity within the APC party until next national elections, which are due in March 2019, will be for Buhari rather challenging. Further, the former ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is also suffering from internal fractions, still has strong support. The outcome of the 2019 elections will therefore depend heavily on whether the APC, remaining united, is able to demonstrate to voters that it has been more effective than the previous government in improving the lives of ordinary Nigerians.