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NIGERIA DECIDES 2015
The most anticipated general elections in Africa is scheduled to hold in February 2015.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission in Nigeria (INEC), the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 14, followed on February 28 by the governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) are expected to fight it out in what is predicted to be the most close but acrimonious election in the country. PDP has dominated Nigerian politics since democracy was established in 1999, but this time around, APC is now being viewed as a serious challenge to its firm hold to power in the centre.
In an attempt to uproot the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress came together as an alliance of four opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance.
In the Presidential elections, President Goodluck Jonathan is the flag bearer for PDP with his current deputy Vice-President Namadi Sambo as his running mate. Jonathan ran unopposed in its primaries receiving the nomination of the party, although it was said to be against an unwritten rule that the presidential candidacy should rotate between the Muslim dominated north and Christian dominated south, and opposition to Jonathan's candidacy led to the defection of "dozens" of his party’s MPs in the House of Representatives.
Former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari however got the nod to lead APC, having defeated Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and the founder of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Sam Nda Isaiah. APC chose Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the running mate of Buhari. Pastor Osinbajo is a professor of law as well as Pastor of a popular church, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
According to the International Crisis Group, an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict: The elections will be more contentious than usual. Tensions between the two major political parties, competing claims to the presidency between northern and Niger Delta politicians and along religious lines, the grim radical Islamist Boko Haram insurgency and increasing communal violence in several northern states, along with inadequate preparations by the electoral commission and apparent bias by security agencies, suggest the country is heading toward a very volatile and vicious electoral contest. If this violent trend continues, and particularly if the vote is close, marred or followed by widespread violence, it would deepen Nigeria’s already grave security and governance crises. The government, its agencies and all other national figures must work urgently to ensure that the vote is not conducted in an explosive situation as this could further destabilise the country.
Nigerian elections are traditionally fiercely contested, but in 2015, risks of violence are particularly high. While a genuine contest is a welcome sign of progress for Nigeria’s democracy, increasingly acrimonious relations between the two parties could engender even fiercer clashes among their supporters.
Competing claims to the presidency, between northern leaders and their Niger Delta counterparts, could also result in violence in either or both regions, particularly after the polls. As in 2011, clashes could erupt in some northern states if the APC loses the polls; there is similarly a high risk of violence if the PDP loses the presidency, particularly in the Niger Delta, home region of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Boko Haram insurgency could prevent voting in parts of those north-eastern states. If this occurs, the opposition APC, which has large following in those (and other northern) states, could lose a significant number of votes, reject the presidential polls’ outcome and question the elected government’s legitimacy. An election not held in all states may also fall short of the constitutional requirements for electing a president, namely that the winner score 25 per cent of the votes in two-thirds of the 36 states, thereby raising serious legal disputes. Equally worrying are the increasing availability of firearms, the rise in communal violence across several northern states since 2013 and deepening criminality in the Niger Delta.
Deficiencies in electoral preparations are also compounding the risks of violence. Proposed amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act, including provisions for establishment of an election offences tribunal, which were intended to prevent or punish electoral offences including violence, remain stuck in the National Assembly (federal parliament).
Repeated assurances by the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, that the polls will be an improvement on the past, are not entirely supported by realities on ground.
Actions by the police and other security services, all controlled by the federal government, could also aggravate tensions around the polls and undermine the credibility of their outcomes. The conduct of some senior police officers, notably in Rivers state, has raised fears that the agency could be manipulated to serve the PDP’s interests. Similarly, some actions and pronouncements by the Department of State Security (DSS) - Nigeria’s main domestic intelligence agency - have raised concerns about institutional bias. If these agencies act or are perceived to act in a partisan manner, they could undermine free and fair polls and heighten the risks of violence, particularly after the vote.
The government must urgently take several steps to limit the risk of widespread violence. These include increasing efforts to contain the Boko Haram insurgency, paying special attention to the police to improve the security environment, reinforcing the capacities of the INEC to restore confidence in the electoral process, and along with all politicians, avoid playing the religious card and reducing tensions between the parties. President Goodluck Jonathan, the federal legislature, INEC and security agencies must bear the greatest responsibility for implementing these measures, but other national and political figures, including civil society, as well as international partners must also rally to stop the slide.
ALL AFRICA MUSIC AWARDS 2014
Notable stars recently gathered at the Grand Ball Room of Oriental Hotel, Lekki, Lagos, to celebrate outstanding musical talents across Africa.
The host of the maiden edition of the All Africa Music Awards was top Nigerian musician, Innocent Idibia, aka 2face, who was ably assisted by Democratic Republic of Congo’s beauty and broadcaster, MadingoSona Maria
The glitteringly ceremony which celebrates musical talent across the African continent was broadcast live on 109 TV Stations. In attendance were internationally recognised African stars such as DJ Arafat (Cote D’Ivoire); Mi Casa (South Africa); Buffalo Souljah (Zimbabwe); Ahmed Soultan (Morocco); Laurette La Perle (Democratic Republic of Congo); Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania); Betty Akna (Equatorial Guinea); Radio and Weasel (Uganda); Lawi (Malawi); Dama Do Bling (Mozambique); Wiyaala (Ghana); Davina Green (Zimbabwe); Cindy Munyavi (Zimbabwe); MC Mahjoul (Algeria); Elani (Kenya) and Dear Zim (South Africa) among Nigerian top stars and socialites who witnessed the breathtaking performances from stars like 2face Idibia, Davido and Oritse Femi.
Among the winners, budding Ghanaian talent, Wiyaala won two of the coveted 23.9-carat gold-plated trophies for The Most Promising Artiste in Africa and she stole hearts with her acceptance speech.
A full list of the award winners are:
*TOP l-r: Davido; Nikki Laoye and Bro Philomen
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