The large contingent of foreign observer groups for the 2019 Nigeria elections reflects the importance of Nigeria in the calculations of the international community for the political and financial stability of Africans South of the Sahara.
Indeed a planeload of observers has come from the United Nations Organisation, UNO, the Commonwealth of Nations, African Union, AU and Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS].
To underscore the importance of the elections the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK) foreign missions have issued statements separately re-emphasizing the need for a free and fair poll.
With the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the general elections to February 23rd and March 9th, 2019 respectively, the reaction by foreign observer missions calling for calm brings to the fore the issues of why Nigeria’s election matters to the international community.
Other reasons that can be adduced for the awakened concern of the global community about the success of the Nigerian polls are:
Africa’s Largest Democracy
Nigeria is Africa’s largest democracy, with a population of over 180 million people. The Democratic process in Nigeria is of major concern to the international community, as Nigeria serves as a bellwether for continental stability.
Africa’s Largest Economy
Nigeria with a GDP size of about $390bn is Africa’s largest economy, which positions it as a key economic powerhouse not only in Africa but in frontier market economies.
Political space plays a role in defining the tempo of the economy, and this is why the elections are seen as an important process for the international community to keenly monitor.
A Leading Capital Market Ecosystem
Nigeria has one of the top three strongest capital markets in Africa by size and sophistication, with the Nigeria Stock Exchange, FMDQ OTC Exchange, NASD OTC Securities Exchange, Africa Commodities Exchange, AFEX (Private Commodities exchange) and the Nigeria Commodities Exchange, NCX.
Both foreign and local investors participate in Nigeria’s market and they will be watching closely the developments around the elections.
A Leading Investment Destination in Africa
Nigeria is positioned as a leading investment destination in Africa, and sectors like petrochemicals, manufacturing, agri-business, retail, telecommunications, ICT, real estate, etc are attractive to foreign investors.
The outcome of elections in Nigeria is of importance to the global investment community, from Private Equity, Venture capitalists to other Investment groups.
The outcome of the elections will partly determine if new investments will be heading towards the country in 2019.
A Vibrant Diaspora Group
Apart from the fact that Nigeria has a population of over 180 million, it has a massive diaspora group across the globe and they have created a lot of awareness about the country. The group is responsible for a recent capital importation of over $20bln.
According to the Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce, The United Kingdom has a Nigerian Diaspora population of over 2 million, which is among the highest overseas.
Nigeria also has a strong community in the United States of America and South Africa, and at the moment has an approximate Diaspora population of about 15 million people.
These are some of the reasons why every Nigeria elections season gets massive global attention.