Monday, April 30, 2007

I worry...

I have in the past been convinced by South Africa's rhetoric about being able to host the World Cup in 2010. I hope my faith isn't misplaced.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Elections on Newshour

If you can, listen to the BBC World Service Newshour special on Nigeria's recent elections. Runs in the second half of the programme at 1330BST, and again at 2130BST. You should be able to listen again online.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Should be interesting...

Don't worry Akin, I am alive. The dreaded blue screen has been plaguing my laptop for a few days, but we shall overcome!

A new blog by a black teacher in inner-city London. Apparently, black kids can't be seen to be working - not good for their "rep".

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Green Revolution?

From the same sentiments that brought you the Rose Revolution, and the Orange Revolution, they now bring you the Green Revolution? Personally, I think Nigerians can't be bothered.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Light relief

Despite all the doom and gloom that's greeted Nigeria's elections, there've been some moments of genuine mirth and pathos. One was when a BBC World Service correspondent in Abuja, Will Ross, described the counting of votes at a polling station:

Right now, behind me, the votes are being counted. It's rather a jovial
atmosphere, with the returning officer holding up the ballots so that the small crowd that's gathered can count them. It's really a rather sad reminder that if things do stay calm, and they're reasonably well-organised, democracy is quite a nice thing to see in action."

But I cracked up today when I saw BBC monitoring's review of African newspapers' coverage of the elections. How can't this not make you laugh?

"I want to appeal to Nigerians not to lose faith in democracy... The fact that President Olusegun Obasanjo has made a complete mess of our democracy and turned Nigeria into his chicken farm doesn't mean democracy is bad.

Goodwill of Nigerians

From the Associated Press agency:

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) - President-elect Umaru Yar'Adua said Monday after winning Nigeria's flawed presidential elections that he was humbled by his new mandate and expressed his gratitude to God for the win. When he was asked on state television if he had expected to win the vote derided by the opposition as heavily rigged, Yar'Adua's entourage broke into raucous laughter. But Yar'Adua, a Muslim with a generally somber mien, allowed only a tight smile and said: "I did because my party is strong. We enjoy the goodwill of Nigerians."

The U.S. government on Monday called Nigeria's presidential elections flawed. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that he hoped the political parties involved would resolve any differences in the election through peaceful, constitutional means. He praised the role of the Nigerian courts in trying to maintain a fair election.

About 1420hrs

Yar'Adua declared winner. 24 million votes for him, compared 6 million for Buhari.

The deal

The results coming in indicate that Yar'Adua will win. AC won in Lagos, with ANPP winning in Kano and Abuja. Yesterday, both Atiku and Buhari said they wouldn't accept the results of the elections. Atiku said, "This is the worst election ever in Nigeria... They have no alternative than to cancel the election altogether." Buhari said, "We will not accept it. Clearly there was no election in more than half of the states. There is a constitutional way out. The National Assembly, which has been recalled by the president of the Senate, should organise the impeachment of the president." I'm not exactly sure how impeaching an outgoing president will help matters. That comment feels like unnecessary blustering.

The Senate president, Ken Nnamani, who has a stake in the PDP winning also said the elections were a sham.

Criticism from observers has been scathing to say the least. The Transition Monitoring Group was the first of the observers to say the election was flawed and should be rerun. Innocent Chukwuma who's been speaking on behalf of the group, which had 50,000 observers across the country, "from all the reports we are getting from the field, these were not credible elections, so it tends to the direction that we will reject the results and ask for new elections to be held" An observer from ECOWAS said the elections were "not free and fair". The observer team of the Commonwealth said the elections had "significant shortcomings".

The US-based International Republican Institute said the elections, "fall below the standard set by previous Nigerian elections and international standards witnessed by IRI around the globe."

And in the last hour or so, the EU has been delivering its verdict. "These elections have not lived up to the hopes and expectations of the Nigerian people and the process cannot be considered to have been credible," said Max van den Berg, chief EU observer, in a statement. It also said 200 people had been killed over the two Saturdays of polling.

So what happens next? In my opinion, this is where the courts come in. If the opposition parties push hard enough, there might be too much pressure on the government - pressure which might force it to hold the elections again. Ordinarily, the oppposition are cowed and retreat, tacitly accepting the results. Popular protest would have been one way of forcing a rerun, but there's no way of preventing it descending into a typically Nigerian bloodbath.

The courts are the key.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

First results and reactions

Umaru Yar'Adua of the People's Democratic Party won 1,841,956 votes, followed by the All Nigeria People's Party with 55,429 and Action Congress with 53,322, the electoral commission said in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

Source: Reuters


Akwa Ibom goes to PDP, and Lagos, goes to AC.

Atiku on AFP news agency:
"I have already rejected the elections," Vice President Atiku
Abubakar told journalists in the capital, Abuja, a day ahead of the
publication of the first results from Saturday's presidential and
legislative elections.
"They have no alternative other than to cancel them

Buhari, Reuters copy:
The main opposition candidate in Nigeria's presidential election said on Sunday he
would not accept the result and called for President Olusegun
Obasanjo to be impeached.
"We will not accept it. Clearly there was no election in
more than half of the states," former military ruler Muhammadu
Buhari told Reuters at his home in the northern state of
Saturday's polls, like state governorship elections a week
earlier, were marked by ballot stuffing, violence and
intimidation, polling stations which never opened and a shortage
of voting slips at those which did.
Independent and international monitors both said on Sunday
the election was a failure.
Buhari, who lost elections in 2003 to Obasanjo, said he
would meet other opposition leaders in the capital Abuja on
Monday to agree a common front against the ruling People's
Democratic Party (PDP).
He called for the election to be held again before May 29
when Obasanjo must stand down after serving two terms.
"There is a constitutional way out. The National Assembly,
which has been recalled by the president of the Senate, should
organise the impeachment of the president," he said.
Buhari accused sections of the military and the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC) of colluding with the PDP
to fraudulently ensure the victory of its candidate, Umaru
Yar'Adua, Obasanjo's chosen successor.
"The PDP has no right to claim victory. If the PDP orders
INEC to declare them the winners, then we will ask our
supporters to stage peaceful protests at the convenient time,"
he said.
"It is likely to be a fatal blow to Nigerian democracy."
Buhari, the candidate for the All Nigeria People's Party
(ANPP), said that if the situation was not resolved by the time
Obasanjo is due to step down on May 29 then the country's chief
justice should take over as interim president and organise new
Nigeria's National Assembly is due to sit on Tuesday to
discuss the elections.
Only a few hundred metres from Buhari's home, ANPP
supporters clashed with soldiers on Saturday after they rioted
to protest a shortage of presidential ballot papers.

The latest results from INEC. I have no specifics about the states yet, but when I get them I'll put them up:

House of Reps: PDP 52, ANPP 7, AC 25.
Senate: PDP 24, ANPP 2, AC 1.

Oloruninbe Mamora of the AC won Lagos East senatorial district (the other two seats were not contested yesterday - will be rerun on April 26), and AC won all the House of Reps seats. PDP won all three Senate seats in Akwa Ibom.

Updates to follow.

No improvement

The general feeling among observers is that there were no improvements on the state elections. The TMG is asking that the polls are rerun. Also, voter apathy appears to have been fairly prevalent among many people I spoke to.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


There are now reports that soldiers have shot dead three people during protests against vote-rigging.

Policemen killed in Nassarawa

Some news just in: Policemen have been killed in Nassarawa State as they escorted INEC officials. Also, there are issues about the ballot papers in Lagos where the printers missed out the insignia of some parties for the National Assembly ballot papers. This election will now be held at a later date.


The BBC has a very good log of the goings-on.

Main story.

The main stories on election day: the attempt to blow up INEC headquarters in Abuja, and delayed opening of polling stations.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The future's Orange

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been nominated for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction - the world's most prestigious award for English language women authors. To vote, Naijablog has instructions.

What more do we need?

Yesterday I called my mama and said, "I'm just calling to find out how you guys are doing, seeing as the country is imploding on itself." But you know Nigerian mothers, resilient as ever, "It's not imploding, anything. We're still here!" She went on to entertain me with a story about Abia state's PDP entourage getting into a fracas with INEC officials over "letting" Orji Uzo Kalu's PPA win the governorship. "What will I tell them in my village?", said the PDP man, before one of his people slapped Mr INEC...

The trouble with Nigeria... is that people have lost all sense of incredulity. There's an army of militants in the Niger Delta, trying to make Nigeria bleed in all manner of ways. There are parts of the east where the Biafran pound is being used as legal tender. Biafran flags fly brazenly in streets, youths affiliated with MASSOB "agitate" for a Biafran state. Isn't much of this called treason? In northern states, Sharia law is used where there's already federal or state law. Saudi sponsored conservative Wahhabi Islam is becoming incredibly influential in an area that's traditionally mainstream Sunni. People calling themselves the Taliban make forays into cities and kill policemen. After 40 years of independence we can't even organise a hitch free election. Armed robbers run the highways. When was the last time a Nigerian called for an ambulance and it came? Those who are paid to serve and protect are too busy waiting to be "settled". Planes landing at airports run the risk of crashing into cows. Power is almost non-existent. What are the state functions that work? Where? Someone show them to me.

This isn't about being Nigerian. It's about looking at the facts on the ground. Nigeria has all the hallmarks of a failed state. What needs to happen for people to admit that things are at their lowest? Another military coup? Another civil war? When will people say, enough is enough? Our incredulity lasts but for a second, and then it's on to, "that's Nigeria for you". The "na so we see am" mentality.

We need to wake up and smell the gunpowder...

ps Listen to the World Today podcast, there's a special part on the Nigerian elections.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

And then..

There's the issue of the militants. Guess what? The Nigerian army has moved in against them. Some people say the country is finally imploding on itself. I've said that for years...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Just in

INEC had said it respects the court's decision, and that it had made provision for this eventuality. Elections will go ahead as planned - with Atiku Abubakar's name on the ballot paper. The opposition are also meeting today, to try and come up with a concensus candidate to run against Yar'Adua and the PDP juggernaut. This will be a straight fight between Atiku and Buhari. How much clout does Atiku actually have? We're about to find out.


The Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero has banned all political rallies in the run up to Saturday's elections. It figures.

As Kush pointed out, PPA's Theodore Orji (who won Abia) is in prison in Lagos on corruption charges. And, if you look ath the EFCC's original list of candidates, the PPA ticket for Abia has the word "indicted" besides it, and is shaded red and blue. This actually happened before Saturday's elections, and there was a lot of speculation at least a week before the elections that he wouldn't be allowed to stand.

The Supreme Court ruled that INEC has no right to bar candidates, whatever their legal status, from running. The person who this obviously affects most is Atiku Abubakar. But the people who should be responding to the ruling - INEC - are saying absolutely nothing. Until INEC responds, probably later today, we can't be sure of any elections this Saturday. Nigeria, we hail thee...

Graphics from BBC newsonline. ANPP has since taken Kano.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Two more...

Edo, Kwara, Ondo, and Kaduna all gone to PDP. Someone is asking me, will these elections stand? Only Kano and Taraba to come.
PDP: Anambra, Adamawa, Benue, Cross River, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Nassarawa, Niger, Sokoto.

ANPP: Bauchi, Yobe, and Zamfara.

Enugu to be rerun.

Six more states to come, including Kano...

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Reuters is updating regularly.

AC retains Lagos

Fashola and AC still run Lagos.

Even more...

PDP retains Bayelsa, Gombe, and Katsina.

More results

PDP retains Oyo and Akwa Ibom. Imo state voided, fresh elections on April 28.

Early results...

Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun and Rivers stick with PDP - doesn't bode well for AC in the south-west. Borno also sticks with ANPP. Abia surprisingly goes to Orji Ahamefule of the little known PPA party. Will update as and when.

All in a day's vote...

Stolen ballot boxes, violence, incompetence - life as a Nigerian voter.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Great gleaming malls

One of the most knowledgeable people about Africa, Richard Dowden (director of the Royal African Society), writes from Lagos in today's Indy.

If you're in Nigeria today...

GO AND VOTE! Voting is taking place for gubernatorial and state legislative elections. These are the candidates and their parties for the governorship of all the states. For state assemblies, go here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Return of the Jedi

The force is strong with this one - or at least I hope it is. I appreciate the many comments of concern, but most endearing were the threats of legal action. Nothing like the fear of legal fees to kickstart lazy backsides into action. Over the past few weeks Bharath from Dell became one of my most trusted companions, sharing several moments of silent interaction as the laptop whirred away. Should I ask him about his family, about Bangalore being India's Silicon Valley? Should I ask him why he hadn't used some bastardised Americanised version of his name, like Bart? Perhaps Dell is more sensitive to the differences of the globalised world in which it operates (read Thomas L Friedman's The World is Flat). Should I have asked him why he left Chennai to pursue silicon dreams in Bangalore, or Bengaluru as it's soon to be rechristened? Silence was quite often golden.

Whenever I saw the call sign, I'd pipe up, "Hello Bharath, I'm just trying to brush my teeth, could you call back in ten minutes?". "Hello Bharath, the blasted thing still isn't working (but in not so colourful language)". These weren't foreign, heavily accented, annoying call centre automatons so despised by the British public. They were always professional, courteous, extremely knowledgeable and competent. When my LAN worked, but my wireless received no waves, I watched as the Bharath poltergeist took over my laptop from a faraway latitude and longitude.

The service was very good, but there were delays. The delays were caused by two things - 1) I had to get the data off my hard drive before reformatting (some major coaxing using linux) and, 2) the reformatting cds took a circuitous route to get to my place.

So. I am back in full blog mode. April 11 edition of City People (the rag of ill repute, and therefore my rag of choice), with an interview which has incredible quotes about a supposedly great man.

"If he was alive, a lot of people would have turned up. Nobody would have cried. But they cried because they loved him and they also benefitted from him in many ways. He was one person who believed in people and would never despise their guts. He was loved by all and appreciated for his humane gestures."

I hate to inform you that it is none of the millions of benevolent Nigerian names we're all itching to trot out. It is of course, the man responsible for some of Nigeria's literal and figurative darkest days - General Sani Abacha. His wife Maryam is asked about life at 60, and she spews all the goodness of her husband, a man who would "never despise their guts". Frankly, if you feel a need to say that despising someone's guts isn't on your agenda for human relations, then something is not quite right. She goes on to describe him as a loving father, a man who did the dishes while she cooked. Doing the dishes? Seriously, roll out the red carpet!

There is something irresponsible about any newspaper selling Abacha wholesale as a family man. I don't doubt that he gave his kids his thumb to suck, but I'm not so sure what the Saro-Wiwa family will make of this perfectly painted picture. It's almost as if the we're talking about the nation's favourite cuddly tv chef, and nothing more. Balanced pictures of people's lives must include their relationships and interactions, but it shouldn't detract from what brought the person to prominence. In Abacha's case, there are too many, too notorious to mention.

Whoever the journalist is (no byline), he/she was cowed. Which is a shame, because it's people like Maryam Abacha who should be answering hard questions about Nigeria, and not be celebrated as some grand dame of the nation.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Fear not...

...for I am with you. My laptop's almost mended, and Lawd willin' I'll be back in blogsville tomorrow evening.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cafe Royal, no cheese

My laptop's on the blink, so I'm in an internet cafe. It sucks. I'd forgotten how much I detested these places. So Dell better fix up and look sharp, pretty soon. Blog anon.