Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s confirmation that he would be seeking another term in Nigeria’s 2019 presidential elections, campaign season in the west African country has begun, as speculation mounts over who will attempt to challenge the incumbent.  

In January 2018, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that it had already registered 68 political parties, with 13 months still to go until the country’s general election (Leadership Newspapers, 26.03.2018). In contrast, only 40 political parties were registered prior to 2015 (African Arguments, 28.03.2018).

With Nigeria’s two main parties hampered by factional infighting and struggling to retain support, the possibility of a third force challenging the APC and the PDP has crept into the public conscience. Further fuelling the anticipation, several influential individuals from across the political spectrum appear to have turned their backs on these two political giants, pledging their support for alternative organisations that promise to bring change to Nigeria.

While unlikely at present, the potential that a new and previously unknown government might gain power – even through a peaceful and democratic transition – may alter Nigeria’s investment environment as uncertainty prevails in the short term. A new administration has the potential to spark changes in Nigeria’s regulatory structures, fiscal policies, legal frameworks and other forms of government interaction with investors.

Key Points

  • For the first time since the introduction of multiparty politics in 1999, 2019 may witness Nigeria diverge from its traditional two-party politics, as various outsiders look to exploit the public’s declining confidence in both the APC and the PDP, and their demand for an alternative choice.
  • As support grows for these various groupings, questions remain as to whether a new party will actually represent real political change given the prevailing presence of former PDP and APC politicians across both their memberships and leaderships.
  • Moreover, the possibility of a new and previously unknown party gaining power in 2019 will fuel political uncertainty, with the potential to negatively impact Nigeria’s investment environment in the short term.