Nigeria’s elections, previously due to be held last month, are being held in the coming weeks. So you know what this means – a list of recommended readings!
But before you applaud, a brief background:
Presidential elections, as well as those for the Senate and National Assembly will be held on March 28, while elections for governors and state assemblies will be held on April 11. In the presidential race, there is the possibility of a runoff if candidates fail to secure more than 50% of the national vote plus at least 25% of the vote in 2/3 of Nigeria’s states (or 24 of 26 states).
Enter the analysis I’ve been reading to get smart on #NigeriaDecides:
In January, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute released a Statement of the Joint NDI/IRI Pre-Election Assessment Mission to Nigeria, detailing major issues affecting the political environment, challenges specific to the 2015 polls, and Nigerian-led initiatives to address these challenges.
After the elections were postponed, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie penned Democracy, Deferred, and International Crisis Group posted and Nigeria’s Elections: A Perilous Postponement. (For additional background, see previous ICG reports Nigeria’s Dangerous 2015 Elections: Limiting the Violence and Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency). In addition, in Democracy is Taking Root in Nigeria, Uchenna Ekwo argued that Nigeria’s democracy is challenged, but growing stronger.
African Arguments’ Nigeria Forum has been hosting a wide array of contributors, notably Incumbency and Opportunity: forecasting Nigeria’s 2015 elections by Zainab Usman and Oliver Owen and In the event of a Buhari win by Tolu Ogunlesi. Outside of African Arguments, Alex Thurston cautioned Don’t ignore Nigeria’s gubernatorial elections.
Some analyses tried to deconstruct the over-simplification of the country’s internal divisions, like Tolu Ogunlesi’s Nigeria’s Internal Struggles or unravel the dominant narratives on the primary presidential candidates Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, such as Alex Thurston’s Nigeria’s Elections: Beyond “The Bumbler vs. the Thug”.
AfroBarometer released Nigeria’s pre-election pulse: Mixed views on democracy and accountability, with public opinion polling on Nigerians’ views on the quality of democracy in the country, support for legislative oversight, trust of elected leaders, religious leaders, and executives, and accountability of elected leaders.
Regarding Boko Haram and its connections to global jihadi movements, the Nigeria Security Network released Special report: The end of Boko Haram?, Hilary Matfess argued that Boko Haram is not al-Qaeda, and Obinna Anyadike (quoting Ryan Cummings and Jacob Zenn, who’ve written extensively on Boko Haram) tackled the question What does the Boko Haram/IS alliance mean?.
Regional security initiatives against Boko Haram are just getting off the ground, so I haven’t found assessments (aside from news articles) of ongoing operations. In the mean time, Celeste Hicks has written on Chad’s role in the region in Clay Feet: Chad’s Surprising Rise and Enduring Weaknesses.
Davin O’Regan has analyzed The Geography of Boko Haram: More Deadly but More Remote, while the following sources have been tracking violence in Nigeria:
- Nigerian Social Violence Project at SAIS
- Nigeria Security Tracker at CFR
- Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset Conflict Trends Report
As 2014 drew to a close and most of the Chibok girls were still missing, Alexis Okeowo asked As the year ends, where are Nigeria’s kidnapped girls?. Chika Oduah also wrote on the human impact of Boko Haram in Executions, beatings and forced marriage: Life as a Boko Haram captive. See also the UN’s Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Nigeria: Displacement – Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 10 March 2015).
On U.S. policy in Nigeria in context of elections – including details on increasing support to the country’s Lake Chad Basin neighbors – see Nigeria’s 2015 Elections and the Boko Haram Crisis by Lauren Ploch Blanchard.
There’s many more analyses out there, but this is all I’ve had time to digest, so eat, read, and be merry.
On my About Me page, I alluded to the possibility of writing about my experience traveling in Africa – to add an entertaining counterweight to my more analytical rants and musings on the events unfolding on the continent. The following is a story about an awkward experience I had while trying to get an interview for a project some years ago:
In the District of Columbia, one normally needs an appropriate badge, or even an escort, to access some U.S. government facilities. This is the world with which I am most familiar – and the world that, for better or worse, I project on my experiences entering foreign government facilities.
It is for this reason that I failed to ask for directions when I was doing a drive by of a national security establishment in African Country X in an attempt to make an appointment to interview someone. After showing my passport and explaining to the front desk why I was there, I was directed to walk across the yard to my left and into one of the identical white buildings. I was like, you’re just going to let me wander around your premises? I don’t need a badge or an escort? And the guy was like, that sounds about right.
So wander I did.
I stopped at Ambiguous White Building #1. Looked for signage. Seeing none, I opened the door to what appeared to be a kitchen. I continued to Ambiguous White Building #2. Looked for signage. Seeing none, I opened the door to a non-descript storage area. Frustrated, I wandered around that upper left quadrant of the compound where the front desk guy had told me to go and weighed the merits of returning to him for idiot-proof directions.
Finally, an important looking guy and his entourage spotted me. From that distance, I couldn’t tell what he was saying, but I assumed it was the vernacular equivalent of “What the (insert expletive here) is she doing?!?” The entourage summoned me over and I explained why I was this random American wandering around their national security facility. They directed me to Ambiguous White Building #3, which was not a kitchen or a storage area, but the office of the minister I was
stalking attempting to interview.
This, my friends, is how I learned to always ask for an escort to avoid such shady appearances – even if one isn’t required.