42. Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the National Foreign Assessment Center, Central Intelligence Agency1

RPM 79–10007

Nigeria: Electoral Lineup for 1979 and Civilian Rule Prospects [classification marking not declassified]

Key Judgments

Nigeria faces a potentially stormy political year as it attempts a difficult transition to civilian rule scheduled for completion next October. More likely than not, the changeover will not occur. [classification marking not declassified]

New political parties, headed by old guard politicians, are operating along traditional lines of regional and tribal conflict which brought down the first republic. [classification marking not declassified]

Shehu Shagari, presidential candidate of the northern Muslim-oriented National Party, has the largest bloc of regional support as Nigeria heads toward a series of elections beginning this spring. [classification marking not declassified]

Elections are unlikely to be placid, and a brokered solution will be required in the likely event that there is no clear-cut presidential victor under constitutional rules. [classification marking not declassified]

The process could be aborted at any point by various elements in the armed forces or, more likely, by the regime as a result of divisive campaigning and communal disorders. [classification marking not declassified]

Even if a civilian government is established, it probably would not survive for much more than two years because of ethnic conflict and rising social demands. [classification marking not declassified]

Events are likely to demonstrate that only the more nationalistic military is capable of governing and holding Nigeria together. [classification marking not declassified]

[Omitted here are a map of Nigeria, a list of Nigerian political parties, and the body of the paper.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 57, Nigeria 1/79–3/80. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]. Drafted by [name not declassified]. The memorandum was prepared in the Africa Division of the Office of Regional and Political Analysis and coordinated with the Directorate of Operations and the Offices of Central Reference and Economic Research.