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Along the streets of Nigeria’s capital Abuja, presidential hopefuls look down at passers-by from posters and supersized billboards. They’re competing for attention with those promoting charismatic preachers and advertising smart new housing developments.

The posters — and the heated discussions that ensue whenever politics is mentioned in the West African country — give the impression that Nigeria’s presidential elections are imminent. In truth, they’re set to take place only in February...

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