No Nigerian president has ever been removed from office in an election. This, sadly, does not mean that Nigeria has been blessed with unusually competent or popular leaders these past 50 years.

It is more a consequence of the country's history of shaky democracy, punctuated by military coups and rigged elections.

Nigeria is now on the eve of another presidential election. History suggests that whether or not the incumbent, Goodluck Johnathan, is the best man for the job, his rivals face an uphill battle to unseat him.

Ideally, Nigerians would be making their choice in a free and fair election. Again, past experience will lead many Nigerians to conclude that is not likely.

Let's see what happens in the coming days.

It's true that last week's parliamentary vote was a big improvement on the 2003 and 2007 Nigerian election.

A cynic might say that is damning with faint praise. President Johnathan's supporters argue that it shows his commitment to a more transparent democracy.

Maybe he deserves the benefit of the doubt. But every Nigerian knows that it is the Presidential and Governorship elections which are the acid test. These are the big prizes, with big money at stake.

I have heard many Nigerians say something new in recent days that they don't care where a candidate comes from, or whom he prays to, but only whether he (because there is barely a she in sight) is competent and honest.

If more and more people are thinking along these lines, then Nigeria's democracy, and sense of national identity are becoming stronger.

But, as ever, it has been an election campaign dominated by personality, and with little detailed analysis of policy or issues (beyond extravagant promises from all the candidates to tackle the chronic problems of unemployment, electricity shortages, environmental degradation, and crumbling infrastructure).

Here are a couple of good articles highlighting that, and the importance of regional and ethnic loyalties.

The first looks at the situation in Lagos, whilst the second draws some conclusions from the results of the parliamentary elections.

One thing is very clear Nigeria cannot afford to mess up again. This is a country that aspires for leadership in Africa, and wants its voice to be heard across the world.But Nigeria's moral and political authority is undermined by its own weak democracy.

Let's hope this potentially great country turns over a new leaf during the next two weeks.