election is key to Nigeria's democratic record, the 36 state governors
elected in 1999 and 2003 also play an important role in the leadership.
Nigerian states have wide autonomy in their own affairs. In 2000,
for example, some northern, predominantly Muslim states controversially
reinstated Islamic law.
One of Obasanjo's stated goals was to stabilize
the economy and improve basic public services — like electricity
and water supplies. However, according to most Western media analysis,
Obasanjo's first term as president made little progress in improving
Nigeria's economy or its public services. Some two-thirds of Nigeria's
people still live on less than $1 a day, according to the Economist
"Power outages are frequent. Some parts of
Nigeria are in darkness for months or weeks. The taps have been
dry for the past year," a Nigerian housewife near Lagos told
the BBC in May 2000.
In addition, stabilizing Nigeria has proven difficult.
More than 10,000 people have died in ethnic and religious fighting
since Obasanjo took office, and outsiders have criticized his
administration for not using the military to stop the violence.
Looking to the future, Obasanjo points to the
potential of a joint proposal he crafted with South African President
Thabo Mbeki to develop an economic initiative called the New Partnership
for Africa's Development or NEPAD.
to create a partnership of African leaders as well as a blueprint
for their countries to develop an economic path of sustainable
growth in the hopes of extricating themselves from poverty and
setbacks, the West continues to view Nigeria as an important ally.
In 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton paid a formal visit to the
country and met with Obasanjo to discuss the country's future
the first visit by an American president to Nigeria since
Jimmy Carter's visit in 1978.
During a visit to Washington in 2001, President
Obasanjo told reporters, "Everywhere in the world, democracy
is a process, and it keeps going."
not an event," he continued. "And Nigerian democracy
the last that one would call an event we have started.
We are not struggling; we are a maturing democracy. We are doing
everything necessary to sustain it."
By Maureen Hoch, Online NewsHour