The 16 February 2019 elections are likely to be a close race between President Buhari, from the All Progressive Congress (APC), primarily supported by herding communities, and Abubakar, from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), primarily supported by farming communities. There is a risk that the tense political climate during the pre-election period will worsen ongoing intercommunal tensions in Nigeria’s Middle Belt between farming and herder communities, who are largely dissatisfied with the federal and state governments’ responses to the farmer-herder violence in 2018. Affected areas are likely to include Taraba, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Zamfara, Rivers, Ekiti, Enugu, Ogun, and Bayelsa states.
Tensions are likely to increase into more violence as militias become more organised, government responses provoke violence, and attacks become more frequent during the dry season, from November to March. The impact of violence is likely to be felt by civilians, many of whom flee in fear of attacks and retribution. This is likely to displace hundreds of thousands of people, aggravate food insecurity, and continue to put women and girls at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.