| ABUJA, April 18
ABUJA, April 18 Below are answers to some
questions on Nigeria's elections after President Goodluck
Jonathan secured victory over closest rival Muhammadu Buhari
according to a tally of official figures.
The Independent National Electoral Commission has yet to
publish the full results and declare the winner.
WHAT DOES VICTORY MEAN?
Jonathan gets another four years in office as leader of
Africa's most populous nation.
But Buhari's largely-Muslim north is unhappy with the
results and disturbances have already begun in a region where
thousands have died in bouts of ethnic unrest in past decades.
Because Jonathan is the first president from the
oil-producing Niger Delta region, it could help ensure his
volatile home region remains calm for a while.
Jonathan has promised economic reforms, including to the
critical power sector, where failure to establish reliable
supplies has sapped the strength of Africa's third biggest
economy for decades.
HOW WELL DID THE ELECTIONS GO?
Much better than those in the past, although that wasn't
hard in a country where ballot box stuffing, thuggery and simply
making up results has been the norm.
Local and foreign observers hailed this vote and the
parliamentary election a week earlier as the fairest in decades,
although Buhari's supporters believe many results were fixed.
Results showed the stark polarisation between the north and
the more heavily Christian south once many Nigerians had a
genuine chance to make their allegiances clear.
The elections are not over yet either.
Polls for state governors are due on April 26 and while they
will get less international scrutiny, there is a far greater
chance of violence and rigging for lucrative posts leading 36
states that are larger than many African countries.
Stakes are high in state elections, closer to home for many
Nigerians than the relatively remote presidency.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN FOR OIL PRODUCTION?
A win for Jonathan as president should avert any short-term
resumption of unrest in his home region. Disturbances by groups
demanding a greater share of the region's wealth shut in as much
as a quarter of production in recent years.
In the longer term, there remains a danger of a return to
unrest if Jonathan does not deliver on very high expectations.
State elections could also be a cause for concern at a localised
Because oil production that had been shut in by unrest had
generally been brought back onstream, there is little immediate
prospect of upside to output as a result of a smooth election.
WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR MARKETS?
Nigerian markets have been treading water.
A market rally could follow a process which ended without a
potentially divisive run-off vote and was greeted by observers
as the most credible Nigerian election for decades. But possible
post-election disturbances could still cause jitters.
While democratic systems are generally welcomed in Africa
for bringing greater oversight and transparency, specific
election cycles are always a concern because of the risks of
trouble as well as government overspending.
WILL EVERYONE ACCEPT THE RESULTS?
That looks unlikely. Buhari's Congress for Progressive
Change (CPC) has pointed to malpractice and its representatives
did not sign off on voting sheets in some areas. They have said
they will wait for all results before challenging them.
They believe Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP)
manipulated results to give him an overwhelming majority in
southern parts of the country and to ensure that he got at least
the minimum number of results needed across northern states to
avoid a second round run-off.
HOW CAN RESULTS BE CHALLENGED?
Buhari has said he won't go to court, but his party could.
An election petition has to be filed within 21 days to the
Court of Appeal. This has 180 days to give judgment in writing.
Any further appeal has to be disposed of within 90 days.
Given the apparent margin of Jonathan's victory, chances of
success may be limited even if problems are found in some areas.
The broad stamp of approval given to the election by
observers will not strengthen the case for any appeal.
WHAT ABOUT PROTESTS?
Unrest is already brewing in northern Nigeria, where
opposition supporters feel they have been cheated.
This could stoke bloody ethnic and religious disturbances
targeting Nigerians from other parts of the country who live in
the north. That could then trigger reprisals elsewhere.
A North Africa style uprising across Nigeria is unlikely.
Most parts of Nigeria appear to broadly support Jonathan and
would be highly unlikely to rally behind a northern grievance.
That could confine protests to the already relatively
marginalised north, furthest from the oil industry or other
major economic activity. The risk for protesters is that it is
their own part of Nigeria which suffers the most.
(Editing by Nick Tattersall)