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A change of administration following a general election tests both the quality and the effectiveness of government. This research examines how such transitions have worked in Nigeria in the past, at different levels of the Nigerian government and in comparable parliamentary systems of the nation. The main focus is on elections where a change of government was expected to occur. The formal handover from one administration to another has generally been relatively smooth and uncontentious for the last two decade. However, the wider transition covers a much longer period, beginning well before a general election is called, and continuing well into the first few weeks, months and years of a new administration (Riddell and Haddon, 2009).

 Unlike other countries, transitions have not previously been studied in depth in Nigeria. There are many ways of measuring the success of a transition, even before subsequent historical assessments of a government’s policies. However, for those most closely involved at the heart of government, and for new governments entering office, the main test is effectiveness; how quickly a new government is able to get to grips with office and implement its plans. Good preparation can ensure a new minster and a department work more closely and more harmoniously together than they might otherwise do, and develop a better relationship sooner (Riddell and Haddon, 2009).

There are three uneasy participants in the marriage – the incumbent Government, the permanent Civil Service, and the Opposition (the government-in-waiting) – with a variety of interested, and vocal, onlookers in the media, think tanks, pressure groups, consultants, business, trade unions, and so on.

The Civil, and other, services are intended to be impartial, yet loyal to the Government of the day. Trust is, therefore, fundamental between current ministers and their senior civil servants. But it has been tested, at times severely, by Civil Service preparations for an alternative government, and any contacts, approved although covert, with the main Opposition party. It is a world of ambiguity and secretiveness rather than clarity and candour.

The effectiveness of transitions can be measured in several ways: are the incoming Government and the Civil Service adequately prepared to be up and running soon; is the new Government able to understand and begin using the levers of power quickly; is there a hiatus as new ministers and the Civil Service take time to get the measure of each other? (Riddell and Haddon, 2009).

The aim of Opposition parties is to win as many seats as possible at the next general election and to be able to form a government. Everything else is secondary. In practice, the behavior of Opposition parties depends on the political and electoral circumstances. Parties still, however, go through the motions of policy preparations, not least to convey the impression that they are a credible alternative government.

Some parties have no realistic hope of returning to power in the immediate future. But there are many ways in which the process of transition can be improved.

On March 28 and 29, 2015 Nigeria held democratic elections. Muslim Muhammad Buhari, head of All Progressives Congress2, was elected president of the first African power. Such event had a great impact both inside and outside the country, since it is taking place in one of the most tumultuous periods since the establishment of democracy in 1999. Fortunately, polling days proceeded without violence mostly in all 36 Nigerian states, except for the northwestern region, where Boko Haram killed at least 41 people and scared hundreds of voters from polling stations3. Nevertheless, and spite of its despicable effort, Boko Haram did not succeed in boycotting the electoral process, thanks to the strong presence of military forces, and the Nigerians’ strong determination to be heard in such significant polls for their country. However, almost 30 million Nigerians went to the polls during these two days —15.4 million voted for Buhari, while 12.9 million chose to reelect Christian President Goodluck Jonathan, leader of People’s Democratic Party. As forecasts predicted, electoral results have been very narrow and have left many positive lessons for history, as well as a tangible optimism among Nigerians and a few reasons to believe that Buhari will work on the country’s stability. Stability in Nigeria is necessary for the region and the whole African continent. In Buhari’s words, “we have shown the world that we are people who have embraced democracy, who are seeking for a Government for the people, by the people and of the people.” Such process could become an example for other African nations. During the electoral campaign, and especially after the elections were postponed due to Boko Haram’s attacks, insecurity has flown across such a relevant political process. Nevertheless, elections have been free, fair and pacific, as Jonathan risked promising, and results have democratically changed power in Nigeria for the first time. To a large extent, both candidates’ attitude towards the results has been decisive for preventing violence among voters, unlike what happened in the 2011 elections. Back then, conflicts in several northern regions in Nigeria resulted in over 800 casualties. Jonathan’s forcefulness after his defeat —“nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian”4 , and Buhari’s peaceful spirit as the winner —“I extend a hand of friendship and conciliation to President Jonathan” — calmed the first confrontations among their supporters and sealed an electoral process that must remain in the collective memory of Nigerians.


The peaceful and generally accepted handover of power from one party to another following a general election is one of the hallmarks of a democratic system.

On the Civil Service side, the prospect of a new administration means potential changes in government machinery, practices and personnel, as well as policy. Unless, and until, a dissolution of Parliament occurs, preparation is constrained both by the requirement to continue to serve the government of the day and by uncertainty about Opposition plans, aggravated by the lack of direct contacts. So the Civil Service has often had to guess what the Opposition proposals mean, or work on the basis of indirect contacts and party statements and manifesto pledges intended as much as for internal party or electoral consumption as a program for government itself.

1.3     RESEARCH QUESTIONS         

1.     What are the problems of handling over power to another political party

2.     What influence does handling over of power to another government on Nigeria citizens?

3.     Is there any significant relationship between handling over power from PDP to APC on Nigeria economy growth?


The aim of this studies is to critically study the consequences of handling over power to a government from a different political party to another. The objectives are:

1.     To find out the problems of handling over power to another political party

2.     What influence does handling over of power to another government on Nigeria citizens?

3.     To find out if there is any significant relationship between handling over power from PDP to APC on Nigeria economy growth?


The idea of the research work is to examine if there are consequences to the handling of power to a different government from a different political party to another.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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