Undeterred by either scorching heat or pouring rain, depending on which part of the country they were queuing up in, and, perhaps even more remarkably, unafraid of the still-lingering threat posed by the brutal Islamist militants of Boko Haram, who, although beaten back in recent weeks by the Nigerian armed forces and their regional allies, still sallied forth on election day to launch attacks in several northern states, Nigerians came out in the millions to cast ballots this past weekend in the African continent’s biggest electoral exercise. Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari has claimed victoryin light of a strong lead over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

The sheer logistics involved in the election were daunting. Just before the vote, Attahiru Jega, chairman of the commission, summarized the effort that would be required to conduct the poll with 68,833,476 eligible voters across the 36 states of the federation plus the federal capital territory. A total of close to 155,000 voting points had to be set up and about 700,000 polling officials in addition to the hundreds of thousands of security agents had to be deployed, a workforce which he noted was equivalent to “three times the combined strength of the armed forces of countries in the entire West Africa subregion.” 

Read more ...

Nigeria’s elections could be a turning point for Africa. If they are free, fair, credible, and if the results are accepted by most of its citizens, the country will become a beacon of hope for the continent, where democratic roots remain shallow. If the results are not credible or if they exacerbate festering religious and ethnic tensions, the consequence could be violence and political uncertainty at home and erosion in the credibility of democratic practices throughout the continent. Instability in Nigeria could invigorate the Islamist insurgency Boko Haram. Post-election upheaval could trigger a larger humanitarian crisis, potentially drawing in foreign militaries and humanitarian organizations. The elections could follow either trajectory.

Nigeria plays an outsized role in Africa. It has the largest economy and population, is the largest oil exporter, and it is vocal in its claims to continental leadership. Its population of 183 million, roughly one in five sub-Saharan Africans, is divided into more than 350 different ethnic groups and evenly between Muslims and Christians. The Boko Haram insurgency identifies with the self-described Islamic State and seeks to destroy the secular Nigerian state, its Christian president, and traditional Islamic establishments that support it and benefit from it.

 

Read more ...

It is a country where the kidnapping of 279 girls barely registers on the President’s agenda, yet most women are still not interested in Saturday's ballot. But a 60-year-old grandmother is fighting to change this.

Teju is a 22-year-old waitress. She won’t be voting in the Nigerian election on Saturday. “My voting card has its benefits,” she says.

“I’ll use it as my ID card but I have no interest in voting. Politics is a man’s game in Nigeria, my vote doesn’t count.”

Sangosanya Tolulope, a 33-year-old philanthropist in Lagos, adds: “There’s something at the back of people’s minds that says women shouldn’t get involved.”

On Friday, campaigning for the elections draws to an end. It has been dominated by two key issues: the rampant Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, and the corruption that has squandered the nation’s oil wealth.

Military checkpoints are being established in every city. Borders are being closed in anticipation of violence. The poll pits President Goodluck Jonathan against a former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari. Neither of the men has inspired women to vote.

 

Even before Nichole Sobecki’s helicopter landed in Bama, Nigeria, on March 25, the staggering devastation was visible.

The militant group Boko Haram, which has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), held the key northeastern town for six months before military forces wrestled control of it about a week earlier. The American photographer, based in Nairobi but recently working in Abuja, was embedded with Nigeria’s army, which took back Bama as part of a multi-pronged effort that also includes forces from neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

“Corrugated iron roofs lie among charred debris, the walls of houses blackened with soot or in ruins,” she tells TIME. “Dusty roads inside the town offer further evidence of atrocities. The remains of a man lie in a sewer, in the fetal position surrounded by trash and human waste. A nearby bridge was used as an execution site,” she adds. “Soldiers cover their faces when entering Bama’s former prison to protect themselves from the smell of those killed as a final act of vengeance before Boko Haram fled the town.”

Sobecki says Bama is now a shadow of a town. 

Read more ...

Nigeria's two main presidential candidates have signed an agreement to prevent violence in tightly contested elections due on Saturday.

Ex-military ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar brokered the deal in talks between President Goodluck Jonathan and his main challenger Muhammadu Buhari.

The two promised to respect the outcome of a credible poll and urged their supporters to refrain from violence.

Some 800 people were killed after the 2011 contest between the two rivals.

Mr Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from Gen Buhari, with some analysts predicting a photo-finish.

Thursday is the final day of campaigning and the government has closed its land and sea borders to ensure a peaceful election.

Read more ...

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has done everything to protect its card readers from being hacked or jammed on Election Day.

Mr Chidi Nwafor, the Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), INEC, stated this at a Situation Room Dialogue with INEC officials in on Wednesday in Abuja.

The dialogue was organized by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, with support from the British Department for International Development (DFID).

Nwafor said the meeting became necessary, following insinuations by some people that there were plans to jam or hack its server or card readers.

“I want to assure you that we have done everything possible in terms of security issues; in terms of when it was being designed, we have considered a lot of things.

“In any technology, we bring out issues as an engineer, but you must also know that this equipment you are bringing is for electoral process.

ABUJA—With about 10 days to the scheduled presidential election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, said it was yet to print only 500, 000 copies of the Permanent Voters’ Card, PVC.

Chairman of the Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega who made the disclosure at a dialogue session he had with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room in Abuja yesterday, said the contract for printing of the remaining PVCs was awarded to an indigenous firm that is based in the Federal Capital Territory.

INEC PVCs

Prof. Jega explained that the inability of the Abuja firm to print and deliver the voter cards on time was due to the fact that it ran out of “blank cards” for the production.

The INEC boss described the development as regrettable, even as he assured Nigerians that all the PVCs that will be used for the impending elections will be ready for distribution before Sunday.

Besides, Jega who noted that as at February 14 when the presidential election was initially billed to hold, only 67 per cent of the PVCs were ready for use, said that as at yesterday, INEC had achieved 81 per cent success with regards to the production and distribution of the cards.

Read more ...

Veteran broadcast journalist and Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, is also the chairman of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON. In that capacity ,he is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Election Debate Group, NEDG. Ahead of the forthcoming elections, Mr. Omole paid a courtesy call on Vanguard during which he spoke on issues pertaining to the debate. Excerpts:

As the DG of NTA would you say that your station has been fair to all sides given that the network is sustained by the public treasury?

I would say we have been fair, but today my conversation today is specifically on the bases of Nigeria Election Debate Group because I don’t want to really mix messages. Another day we can sit and talk about it. So, today, my main agenda is to promote the activities of the Nigeria Election Debate Group being a member of the board of trustees and that is what I like to do.

Omole

I like to talk about this controversy which I don’t really see because, I mean we put four people on stage and we ask each four, same questions. It’s an opportunity for you to tell Nigerians through live radio and television what your programmes are irrespective of whatever anybody believes.

There is the fear that the questions would be leaked to one party?

Let me explain to you that as I am sitting here, I as the chairman of the debate group, I have not seen the questions that are going to be asked maybe till the day of the event itself. This is because we have almost five thousand questions coming from different parts of the country and different parts of the world.

We have a debate format committee that works on setting the questions. What we do is that we send to all the candidates, all of the political parties, what areas that are going to be discussed.

Read more ...

Abuja — The Federal Executive Council, FEC, yesterday set the stage for the restructuring of the country by approving immediate and full implementation of the recommendations contained in the 2014 National Conference Report.

Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, disclosed this to newsmen after the FEC meeting.

Confab Closes— From left: President Goodluck Jonathan receiving Report of 2014 National Conference from Chairman of the Confab, Justice Idris Kutigi at the closing ceremony of conference in Abuja. Photo: Gbemiga Olamikan.

The move was immediately ridiculed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, as an act of desperation by the administration bent on winning votes by any means just two weeks before the election.

The APC said the implementation of the report was practically impracticable given constitutional amendments required.

Read more ...

Page 2 of 2

Go to top