nigeria holds first transparent election since 1993

The last time Nigeria had a transparent election was in 1993. Then, opposition leader Moshood Abiola won the election only to be denied the chance to lead Nigeria by strongman Ibrahim Babangida. Mr. Abiola died in jail in 1998. Nigerians had to wait until May of 1999 to see the end of kleptocratic military rule. Mr. Olesegun Obasanjo, a former military ruler, was Nigeria’s first elected president since the early 1980s. His party (Mr. Obasanjo’s) the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has since then won two elections under questionable circumstances, to put it mildly.

The latest election appears to be different.

Initial results show that PDP is set for a thumping in the legislative and governorship races, although its presidential candidate (Goodluck Jonathan) is still the front-runner with 62% approval rating.

Credit goes to Attahiru Jega, a professor of Political Science and head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for ensuring that the Nigerian elections have credibility both at home and abroad.

Watch this space for the results of the gubernatorial and presidential elections in the coming weeks.


sectarian violence in nigeria getting out of hand

The BBC reports that at least 500 people were killed in a massacre carried out on Sunday morning by machete wielding men near the Nigerian city of Jos. This Day, a Nigerian daily, puts the number at 200. The attacks were in response to similar killings that took place in the same area in January.

This latest incident highlights the ineptitude of the Nigerian security forces. Most of the villagers were hacked to death with machetes. In an age of cell phones it is unbelievable that the Nigerian police could not have arrived soon enough to stop this madness. It must take quite some time to kill more than 500 people with machetes. The slow response of the Nigerian security forces is unpardonable. And in any case how can such a plot be planned and carried out in an already volatile area out without the knowledge of the Nigerian intelligence services?

So far 95 people have been arrested. This is not enough. Abuja should move ahead and identify the planners of this abhorrent act and serve them justice. Anything short of this and the international community should move in and try those involved for crimes against humanity. Over 350 people were killed back in January when this sort of madness descended on Jos. The January attack in Kuru was just as ghastly. Several bodies were dumped in wells. Abuja should stop the killings ASAP and then attend to the problems that force people to commit such heinous crimes in the first place.