Nigeria. All five parties nominated dictator Sani Abacha
as their candidate in the August presidential election.
However, all parties were pure puppets to the military
junta, and interest in the parliamentary elections in April
was very low.
Countryaah, six men were sentenced in April to death for alleged coup
attempt against Abacha. One of them was Junta's former
second man Oladipo Diya.
In June, Abacha died suddenly of a heart attack during a
meeting with three prostitutes. He was succeeded by
Commander-in-Chief General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who
promised democracy and released a number of political
prisoners, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The
hope was now that the imprisoned Moshood Abiola, who won the
canceled presidential election in 1993, would also be
released. However, in the middle of a meeting with a US
government delegation, Abiola also suffered a heart attack
and died quickly. The death led to severe unrest in the
country, but a group of foreign court doctors found that
Abiola had died a natural death.
Abubakar continued the cleansing after Abacha's
disobedience. He disbanded all the institutions formed to
lead the transition to civilian government according to
Abacha's model, including the political parties. New parties
could be formed and the unions regained their freedom. The
six death sentences from April were converted to prison
sentences. The new government tried to regain as much as
possible of the billions Abacha destroyed.
The new social climate reduced Nigeria's insulation. The World
Bank declared its readiness to grant new loans, the EU
repealed most of its sanctions and the Commonwealth
recommended reopened relations with Nigeria Nobel Laureate in
Literature 1986, Wole Soyinka, returned from four years of
exile after being cleansed of treason charges.
Local elections were held in December as a first step in
the return to civilian rule in the spring of 1999. Of nine
participating parties, three qualified for continued
participation in the state and parliamentary elections. N's
ethnic division means that only parties with strong roots in
a large part of the country are allowed to run at national
Despite the hope of a brighter future for Nigeria, a tense
situation prevailed in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where
competition for gaining part of the oil income led to ethnic
contradictions in several places. The worst was around the
town of Warri, where the conflict between the ijaw and
itsekiri groups demanded many deaths and led to severe
disruptions in oil production.