Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nigerian Elections – Politics of Thuggery and Chaos

This past couple of weeks has been illuminating for the non-initiate as regards the means and ways of politicking in Nigeria. Ballot boxes snatched, voters and security agents maimed and killed, riotous protests, arson, armed gangs of thugs, soldiers and police using coercion to force people to vote for their benefactors, polling booth officials maimed or killed, and an attempt to blow up INEC headquarters in Abuja. All these are scenes reminiscent of a D-rate Nollywood movie, except it was enacted in real life. One might sooner be safer it seemed, in Kabul, Mogadishu or Faluja.

Nigerian politics has become a do-or-die affair where the only rule of the game is survival of the fittest, regardless of crudeness or brutality. The extent and level of violence that marked the April 14 and April 21 elections is enough to have the elections canceled since they were not in any respect free and fair. The daunting security and logistical issues facing the INEC made the commission inept.

The Atiku Abubakar ruling of the supreme court came only a few days to the election, making it almost impossible to amend the 60 million ballots to include Atiku Abubakar on the list of candidates. In the end the commission settled for a sticker. Also, the hostile nature of communities in opposition strongholds all over the country, particularly in the Niger Delta made it a precarious endeavor for INEC officials to administer elections in these areas (indeed some were reportedly killed). Add to this, the dire transportation situation in Nigeria and what you have is a near impossibility to have the elections commence on time all over the country. There are reports of elections commencing as late as 5:00 PM in certain states and even an extension of voting into the next day, April 22, 2007.

In the end, INEC released a result declaring Yar’Adua as the winner and the elections as free and fair. Yar’Adua probably truly won the elections since the PDP has the largest following in Nigeria. However, the chaotic and violent conduct of the election gnaws at the legitimacy of this victory. If the elections were not free and fair, should the results hold? Some quarters believe it should since all parties were involved in the display of violence and chaos. What thinks you?


Anonymous said...

Without reading much meaning into the words; free and fair is free and fair and should be nothing but. However, the recent elections in my beloved homeland were anything but free and fair.

As the world watches, whatever they think about us in terms fraudstering and other neferious activities can now beyond any reasonable doubt be confirmed.

OBASANJO, how dare you black-eye all of us in this fashion? You no be only oyokolo-man, na you be oga four-one-nine, kpata-kpata. Na wayo you de all the time. But never mind one day go be one day. It is quite obvious that you have no shame, but you have tremendiously shamed us all.

Nilla said...

"One might sooner be safer it seemed, in Kabul, Mogadishu or Faluja."
Or be safer at home :-)

The thing is if the elections are cancelled, are we going to have a "free and fair" election soon?.....I don't think so.

I think we should concentrate on making the one in the next 4 years better, and with better candidates.

Been wondering where you disappeared to.

Veracity said...

Hi Nilla,
I have been very busy working on a new project. What about you?

Are in Nigeria now? The election was a sham, but like you said there is no guarantee that a run-off or re-run will be better conducted.