How is the country changing at the eve of the elections?
Hectic. If we were required to use one word to describe the long preparation for the pools in Nigeria, that would be certainly this one. In fact, with Boko Haram threatening and stabilizing in the North-East of the country the national Electoral Commission has decided to postpone the presidential elections to the 28th of March, including still more question marks on the way. And about ten days before the Election day, ours are: which path will the “Giant of Africa” decide to undertake? And is such path likely to be considered democratic?
Analyzing briefly the protagonists’ profiles can be a fair begin. Goodluck Jonathan is the symbol of the Southern Christian side of Nigeria. His ‘meteoric’ rise to power in 2011 has aroused lights and shadows around his activity as President and PDP’s leader. Indeed the accuses of corruption and fraud have been alternating with praises of progress for the country, especially for having calmed down the tensions between the oil rebels and therefore attracted massive foreign investments. Muhammadi Buhari represents instead the conservative and old military class ruling in Nigeria until the end of the last century, deserving the nickname Talakawa (‘ordinary’ in Hausa language). His inflexible fight for the order and the discipline has not ever left any space for the protection of human rights in general, and such stiff disposition did not guarantee him luck within the last three presidential elections he has run for.
Is this developing attention to human rights an insight to talk about a developing country as well? Maybe. But now a step further is needed to be taken. The regional strong-force constituted in February by the African Union to face Boko Haram’s violence requires a political support from the country, and the past compromise failures have demonstrated that all the actors involved need to raise their voice on the security issue. What is sure right now is that no electoral programme can be considered close to one including the Islamic Nigeria wanted by the terrorists, neither the moderate Muslim pursued by Buhari, who also survived an assassination attempt in July 2014. Then, the population has no choice than voting for real self-representation against the system forced by Boko Haram with the violence.
And this is the definitive opportunity of improvement for Nigeria. It looks that a positive breeze is already blowing on the country, as underlined by the Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who expressed his great appreciation for the new instruments adopted by the Government for guaranteeing a fair vote. With the so-called “Abuja peace accord”, all Nigerian political parties are bounded to no-violence, and the Permanent Voters Cards together with the testing of card readers will challenge a tight schedule and logistical obstacles.
In the end Nigeria will win only by showing its real face, whichever it will be. Some results have been already obtained: after many years during which the people have generally known the results of the elections way before they happened, this eve sees no certain winner and furthermore it is interesting to observe how the country is definitely improving its self-awareness despite the internal divisions and the spread violence. This is why we like to call it democracy.
Read the first part here