Monday, April 23, 2007

Nigeria's 'Godfather syndrome'

Nigeria has officially completed the path from dictatorship to democracy to the facade of democracy. Sadly, the nonlinear path is followed by far too many African countries. Yesterday's presidential elections in the country were denounced as a charade by nearly all domestic and international observer groups. This came after severe violence marred local and state elections only a week earlier. Not surprisingly, Umaru Yar'Adua, President Olesegun Obasanjo's handpicked successor was overwhelmingly elected, at least according to official figures.

The European Union says at least 200 people have died in poll violence in the past week. Voter intimidation was another serious problem, along with polling stations opening very late or not at all. Even before the official campaign, many believe that a legal smear campaign was being waged against the current vice-president Atiku Abubakar... which started not long after the vice-president objected to attempts to allow Obasanjo to serve a third term.

Not surprisingly, Yar'Adua's main opponents, former military leader Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku, have called for the election to be re-run. But the Transition Monitoring Group, which had a whopping 50,000 observers on the ground, joined in the call, as did many other observer groups both domestic and international.

Though this piece in the Nigerian Vanguard opines that at least the increasing respect for the separation of powers is tempering the executive's excesses.

However, the Council on Foreign Relations notes that charisma and 'the Godfather syndrome' remain an all-too-important part of the Nigerian political scene.


At 7:56 PM, Blogger Don Thieme said...

I agree with you that the election was a poor display. You should have noted, however, that the reason for late balloting was that the ballots had to be reprinted to get Atiku Abubakar on there. It is hard to tell how much enthusiasm there was for the opposition from overseas. My impression is that the best candidates were forced out in the PDP primary.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger uknaija said...

@don thieme-I'm afraid the reprinting of the ballots is insufficient excuse as the same issues came up in the April 14th elections

The better candidates were indeed forced out in the PDP primaries

While I accept the Council for Foreign Relations position on godfatherism, I ask is there any country on earth where charisma does not play a role in politics?


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