Nigeria Gets a Second Chance

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Monday dawned hopeful in Nigeria, as General Olesegun Obasanjo's election to the presidency was confirmed. Opposition claims of electoral fraud will likely recede as international observers have indicated that instances of ballot stuffing (on both sides) weren't sufficient to alter the result. "Now that he has won, many key opposition figures will go over to Obasanjo's side," says TIME reporter Clive Mutiso. "The new president may even offer his rival, Chief Olu Falae, a cabinet position in order to cement national unity."

Obasanjo may be the closest thing Nigeria has to a man for all seasons: "The military knows and trusts him because he was a general, and the track record of his previous spell as head of state gives him widespread civilian support in both the north and south of the divided country," says Mutiso. Obasanjo's international standing -- he was once considered for the post of U.N. secretary general -- will also help the oil-rich yet impoverished country negotiate financial assistance. "Obasanjo faces tremendous challenges in holding the country together and wiping out endemic corruption, particularly in the oil industry," says Mutiso. But his election has given Nigerians a rare reason for cautious optimism.