Saturday, 7 May 2011

Nigeria: 2011 General Elections

Statement and analysis from the Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria)The 2011 General Elections and the Working People

On three different dates, April 9, April 16 and April 26, Nigeria held the general elections to elect politicians that would control power at central and state levels for the next four years. For a country of about 150 million people in which over 70% of its citizens live on less than $2.00 per day, a foremost organ of international capitalism, "The Economist" of London of April 14, 2011 complains that "the process has been expensive: the government has set a record for public spending on elections of $580million". Another foremost organ of international capitalist, the Financial Times of London, in its own publication of April 28, 2011 put the official cost of election at $647million. However, for most bourgeois commentators, including foreign political leaders in the West and Africa, the 2011 general elections is portrayed as the most "credible, free and fair" electoral contest in Nigeria, most especially since 1999 when the current civilian rule started. If for now, we leave out the massive violent protests which greeted the post April 16, presidential election in certain parts of the country, the preponderant opinions of most politicians, domestic and international observers together with the overwhelming reports by both print and electronic media, tend to agree that the 2011 general elections were the "most credible, free and fair" elections conducted since the 1998 when the current civilian dispensation started.

Unlike the 2007 general elections, which the then President Olusegun Obasanjo openly declared as a “do or die affair” for the PDP and the leadership of INEC as personified by its Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu adopted and mostly exhibited a “go to hell” disposition towards voters with visible bias towards the PDP and other major ruling parties, this time around the entire electoral processes were preceded by repeated pledges from both President Goodluck Jonathan and Prof. Attahiru Jega, the new electoral commission chairman, that they were committed to organize a credible free and fair elections. Of course, this disposition was largely informed by the general societal revulsion felt towards the 2007 exercise by most Nigerians and even domestic and international observers. Also noticeable in the elections under review was the remarkable, peaceful and orderly conduct of most voters during the exercise. In fact, during and throughout these elections, the electronic media, most especially beamed pictures of voters across the country queuing up peacefully and in an orderly manner for accreditation and voting exercise, with several on-the-spot interview of voters and electoral officials of how “smoothly” everything has been going on. Unlike in previous elections, voters were consciously urged this time around, by the electoral commission, not only to vote, but also to wait for the counting of the votes before leaving the polling centres. Nevertheless there was officially only a 53.7% turnout in the April 16 presidential vote when just under 39,500,000 ballot papers were cast.

As we write, bourgeois analysts of different persuasions both locally and internationally have continued to pour encomiums on President Goodluck Jonathan and the INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega for having promised and actually conducting credible, transparent, free and fair elections. Notwithstanding this, certain political parties and politicians, most especially within the opposition group, have alleged many irregularities which negatively affected a free and fairness of the entire exercise. As noted before, the outcome of the presidential elections had also witnessed serious violent protests and demonstrations in certain parts of the north of Nigeria, leading to killings of hundreds, burning of churches, mosques, palaces of emirs and politicians suspected to be close to the PDP, the ruling party at the centre since 1999...

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