Nigeria’s 2019 polls: A bad example in rigging, lacking credibility, says Ex-US Envoy

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The 2019 presidential elections in Nigeria that named President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner has been described as a disappointing bad example for African countries consolidating their democracies or emerging from quasi-authoritarian regimes to emulate.

A former envoy of the United States of America to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell who made the statement hinged his disappointment with the elections on the fact that it was “marred by historically low turnout and credible allegations of rigging,” and that the election rated low tha the 2015 presidential election standard.

Excerpts from the Campbell statement read:

“Nigeria’s latest presidential election cycle has been bad news for democracy in Africa’s most populous country and across the continent. Though President Buhari won the election, it was marred by historically low turnout and credible allegations of rigging.

“Buhari and his main challenger, former Vice President Abubakar, both Muslims from the Fulani ethnic group in the country’s North, are part of the political class that has dominated Nigeria since independence in 1960. Their contest meant there would be no generational leadership change in a country where the average age is 18 and half of registered voters are under 35.

“Buhari and Abubakar are the standard-bearers for two political parties descended from the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida: the APC and PDP, respectively. Both parties are undemocratic in spirit and function primarily to contest elections rather than to promote legislation or policy. During their campaigns, the candidates and their parties offered little that was new to address security breakdowns caused by Boko Haram in the country’s Northeast; conflict over land use, ethnicity, and religion in the Middle Belt; and the division of oil revenue in the Delta. Moreover, they were mute on climate change, urbanization, and a population boom that is expected to push Nigeria past 450 million people by the middle of the century.

“The Situation Room, an umbrella organisation of Nigerian civil society groups, wrote that the vote marked “a step back from the 2015 general election and actions should be taken to identify what has gone wrong and what can be corrected.

“Nigeria’s influence across sub-Saharan Africa is out-sized. Its population and economy are Africa’s largest; its cultural influence, symbolized by the Nollywood film industry, is far-reaching; and its traditional diplomatic activism, through participation in peace-keeping missions and the regional economic bloc ECOWAS, is consequential.

“When Nigeria transitioned from military to civilian rule in 1999, the effects on West Africa were palpable: coups lost their legitimacy, and the region has pursued a positive democratic trajectory ever since. But the latest presidential election is far from an example for those African countries consolidating their democracies or emerging from quasi-authoritarian regimes to emulate.”

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