Breaking Down Nigerian Elections With M'Khail Madukovich

Africa’s strongest economy and most densely populated country is under political scrutiny this year. The face of its leadership may take a dramatic change with either the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) keeping its power, or the All Progressive Congress (APC)’s rule changing Nigeria’s entire political climate. Either way – with national security under threat, corruption on the rise and fluctuating oil prices destabilizing the economy Nigeria is in dire need of a political facelift. Much of which will carry a significant effect on states around Nigeria and Africa at large.

In order to understand not only Nigeria’s election process and political atmosphere, we spoke to M’Khail Madukovich – A Nigerian blogger and commentator on socio-political, socio-economic and general events. Giving us an interesting insight on both playing fields of the two headlining parties, we develop more of an understanding of the presidential and general elections this year:

Looking at the postponement of presidential elections, does the public view this as Jonathan’s attempt in buying time to get more voters? Looking at the reports that the high rising levels of corruption, oil theft and national security have damaged his credibility as Nigeria’s efficient and effective leader.

Many people do feel that the postponement of the elections is Jonathan’s attempt to buy time seeing that in recent days the momentum of the opposition party candidate, Buhari , has reached FEVER PITCH owing to the massive media attention he’s gained, over time with strong backing online by supporters called “e-warriors”.

Truly, the Jonathan government as you rightly observed has been accused of not only corruption, but for condoning it, unlike others before him, that attempted (even if pretentiously, or witch hunted the opposition in the attempt) to curb the menace at the heart of Nigeria’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, and the opposition had continually harped on this to garner support of Nigerians near and far promoting the former military Head Of State as the answer. Even though the bulk of members of the party were once members of the other party they now accuse of corruption.

The shift in election date, was premised on the security situation in Nigeria, but beyond that, it has also come to light that the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) is ill prepared despite the assurances by the chairman, as besides the fact that the Permanent Voter Cards, (PVC’s) meant to be used to vote, hadn’t been adequately distributed (with Jonathan’s party claiming that the distribution has been skewed to favour opposition states where average distribution is about 80% – compared to zones in the South which is Jonathan’s base with about 50% on average). Adhoc staff hadn’t been trained, while card readers haven’t been tested, a week to the elections before the postponement.

In a way it might have been a ploy by the incumbent government to buy itself more time, but also there definitely are genuine reason for the elections to be postponed, one of which, besides the aforementioned and others, the heightened tensions in the country, that have seen people moving from volatile parts of the country to quieter areas.

One other major reason for election postponement (according to a statement released by security services) was the fact that militant operation Boko-Haram will be carried out on the day that the elections were to be held.   With the operation commencing February 14th, have there been any signs or evidence that proves this so far (mostly on field level)?

I cannot confirm that the operation has indeed commenced, and information comes out of the areas under a STATE OF EMERGENCY in trickles, as the military authorities release them, or from civilian
escapees.

However, much recently, some gains had been made against the insurgents, the Islamist Boko Haram group, especially by Nigeria’s neighbors including the Republic of Chad and Cameroon.

Initially, it was thought that those activities were unilateral, but recently the Nigerian military authorities claim that they were joint efforts, and this will increase over the coming days for which more Nigerian troops will be deployed massively into the region to halt the advance if not destroy the capability of the group to wage war.

Therefore, it is this need to have use of the arms of the military, which because of the volatile nature of Nigeria’s elections are usually drafted to maintain peace, dictated the advisory by the military to the INEC chairman, that they will not be able to help maintain security for the duration of the elections for now, as everything is put into fighting Boko Haram for now.

(more on Obasanjo’s marred relationship with Jonathan on the next page)