NIGERIA - CANDIDATE PROFILES
GENERAL OLUSEGUN OBASANJO
The retired general and pig farmer is most famous for being the only Nigerian military leader ever to give up power voluntarily. He was Nigeria's military president from 1976-1979. Ethnically a Yoruba from the nation's southwest region, he enjoys strong support amongst the Muslim Hausa and Fulani peoples of the north who have dominated Nigerian politics for the last several decades. But due to this support and his military past, many of his own people distrust him and view him as the military's choice for president. In 1995, General Obasanjo was jailed with several others on charges of plotting a coup against General Sani Abacha. General Abdusalami Abubakar released him, with eight other prominent political prisoners, in June 1998. Nominated by the People's Democratic Party, he won Nigeria's presidential elections.
CHIEF OLU FALAE
The 60 year-old former finance minister and Yale educated economist has spent much of his career as a civil servant. Like General Obasanjo, he is ethnically a Yoruba and served time in jail under General Abacha. Although Mr. Falae was jailed for his alleged part in a series of bombings throughout the country, most observers say his imprisonment was more likely related to his activities with NADECO - the National Democratic Coalition - a pro-democracy group opposed to the rule of General Abacha. Although Mr. Falae ran on a platform of economic renewal, many Nigerians associate him with the unpopular IMF-sponsored economic programs begun in the 1980s He was the Alliance for Democracy and All People's Party candidate.
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