Parliamentary Chamber: House of Representatives


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  House of Representatives

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  12 April 2003

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Representatives on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.

Background and outcome of elections:

  On 12 April 2003, over 60 million voters went to the polls to elect the 360 members of the House of Representatives and the 109 members of the Senate. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), some 30 political parties fielded candidates in the contest. By way of comparison, only two parties were authorised in the 1999 elections.

The vote preceded the presidential elections which were held on 19 April 2003. Nineteen candidates, including one woman, were officially registered in the presidential elections. The main contenders in the presidential race were incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo, from the People's Democratic Party (PDP), and Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, from the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP), himself a former military ruler, like President Obasanjo. It was the first time since independence that the country transferred power from one civilian administration to another without the intervention of the military (the country had been ruled by the military for 30 of its 43 years as a sovereign State).

The elections were overshadowed by the country's worst cycle of violence for over 30 years, including bloody Christian-Muslim riots in northern Nigeria surrounding the Miss World pageant. In November 2002, the riots were sparked by a newspaper report linking the Prophet Mohammed to the Miss World beauty contest, which some Muslims said was blasphemous. After the death of more than 200 people, the Miss World pageant left the country.

More than 100 people were killed in election-related violence. Since Mr. Obasanjo was first elected in 1999, more than 10,000 people in Nigeria have been killed in political, ethnic and religious violence. Election day was marred by at least two dozen deaths, hundreds forced to flee their homes, organizational chaos and a boycott in the oil-producing Niger Delta.

The Independent National Electoral Commission accredited some 70,000 local and international observers for the general and presidential elections, including observers from the European Union (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The latter endorsed the legislative and presidential elections as "free, fair and transparent" while most observers, in particular those from the European Parliament, declared that elections were more peaceful than expected but marred with significant flaws.

President Olusegun Obasanjo's ruling PDP won 54.5 per cent of the vote and 213 seats in the House of Representatives. Two main opposition parties, the ANPP and the Alliance for Democracy (AD), obtained 95 and 31 seats respectively. In the Senate, the ruling party won 73 seats, while the ANPP took 28 seats and the AD 6.

The opposition parties rejected the results of the elections. ANPP Chairman Mr. Don Etiebet, speaking on behalf of 28 opposition parties, rejected the results as flawed. He accused the ruling party of manipulating election officials, outright rigging and tampering with results. On the other hand, in a nationwide broadcast President Obasanjo expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the vote, despite delays in some parts of the country and disruptive violence in others.

Mr. Obasanjo was re-elected as President of the country and was sworn in for a second term on 29 May 2003.

Round no 1 (12 April 2003): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 60 823 022
Voters 30 386 270 (50 %)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 1 153 200
Valid votes 29 233 070

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Votes %
People's Democratic Party (PDP) 15 927 807 54.49
All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) 8 021 531 27.44
Alliance for Democracy (AD) 2 711 972 9.28
United Nigeria People's Party (UNPP) 803 432 2.75
All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) 397 147 1.36
National Democratic Party (NDP) 561 161 1.92
Peoples Salvation Party (PSP) 96 550 0.33

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
People's Democratic Party (PDP) 223
All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) 96
Alliance for Democracy (AD) 34
United Nigeria People's Party (UNPP) 2
All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) 2
National Democratic Party (NDP) 1
Peoples Salvation Party (PSP) 1

  There is one vacant seat from Okigwe North Federal Constituency, Imo State.
Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 337
Women: 22
Percent of women: 6.67

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Copyright 2003 Inter-Parliamentary Union