Wednesday 27 April 2011

Thought Picnic: The Birthers have begotten a stillborn

The nasty movement

It is necessary to pen a few words on this matter because the micro-blogging forum of Twitter will just not suffice in offering a considered opinion.

For almost three years there has been a campaign contesting the eligibility of Barack Hussein Obama to be the President of the United States in that he is not a natural born citizen amongst other disputable claims.

That fervent, virulent and aggressive campaign became ignominiously named the Birther Movement. There is no doubt that this apparently innocent and curious search for documentation of Barack Obama’s birth, birthplace and circumstances of birth had nasty racist undertones that left facts in the wake of the sensationalist element than brewed from this non-controversy.

However, it became a controversy on which many were willing to stake their reputations all with the assurance that they were onto something and something really big.

The Donald

As many reasonable and fair-minded people grew disgusted even after tons of unimpeachable research showed that Barack Obama was indeed American and eligible to be president by reason of all evidence provided some were just unpersuadable.

Then Mr. Donald Trump, a multi-bankrupt wheeling and dealing real estate maverick billionaire who would give the creeps to the creepiest things came in the fray and basically launched himself into the murky cesspool of the Birther Movement with the prospect of topping the ticket for the Republican Party.

He made you sick to the extreme as your stomach churned with perplexed disbelief as he lurched and scraped at the person, the integrity, the education and the office of Barack Obama.


In what is a masterstroke of class and resolve, Barack Obama had instituted proceedings to have his birth certificate released for public viewing to put the silliness to rest, once and for all.

In my view, that matter was unimportant but when some people decided to make a mountain of a molehill such that it had become an unnecessary distraction from the more pertinent issues of the day the reputations of the incautious, the blabbers and the megalomaniacs must take an irredeemable beating.

I would hope that Donald Trump for all his influence and money gets shut out of polite company as he eats humble pie in perpetuity with the label that he lacks sound judgement which should extend to all other areas of his exploits.

The lesson to take from this is one advice I would give to my worst enemy, “Don’t ever cross Barack Obama.” His silence must not be taken for stupidity, his coolness cannot be taken for cowardliness and his patience simply presages a ruthlessness that is deserved by those who fail to exercise good judgement.

Those who sat on the fence on this matter should suddenly find themselves tethering on the edge of an abyss that is the bosom of the extreme lunatic fringe – Obama is no cuddly pussy cat by any stretched of the imagination.

Reference material

Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

White House Releases President Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate « FOX News Radio

The Certificate of Live Birth on request (PDF)

The long form Certificate of Live Birth (PDF)

Analysis: Behind Barack Obama's decision to disclose his certificate

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review XI - A functioning democracy?

The quest for a credible opposition

This must have been one of the funniest blogs [1] I have read in the Economist which started with the line-dancing equivalent of handling a hat and ended with a very serious message. “Democracy does not function without a serious, credible and decent opposition.

That hit home so hard that I crafted and posted the following tweet. "Democracy does not function without a serious, credible and decent opposition." @TheEconomist #NigeriaDecides to do without one.

The gubernatorial elections were conducted in 24 States yesterday with Kaduna and Bauchi States scheduled to hold on the Thursday, the other 10 states [2] (Adamawa, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Ondo, Osun and Sokoto) were not contested still having partial terms to run.

However, the elections for the State Houses of Assembly in 34 States but Kaduna and Bauchi were held as well as the 19 Senate and 48 House of Representative seats which were postponed from the 1st tranche that held on the 9th of April.

The ruling party rules wide

Nigeria struggles at being a multi-party state with the pervasive representation of the ruling PDP which before these elections had 26 state governors [3] out of 36, 85 out of 109 Senators and 260 out of 360 members in the House of Representatives in the National Assembly [4].

The footprint of the ruling was big and widespread; there was no opposition party or coalition of opposition parties that had the fleeting chance of overturning these thumping majorities.

The best that could be hoped for was to work on unseating the ruling party in many places and thereby reduce their influence in all spheres of Nigerian life but the presidency was still that of PDP to keep for the next 4 years.

A frustrated CPC President

In the presidential elections help just over a week ago, the CPC party mounted a good challenge [5] but technically, to have expected to overthrow PDP at the ballot box in 2011 was close to a pipe dream fuelled with herbs.

CPC, an offshoot of ANPP, had no political representation whatsoever before these elections and having gained some seats in the National Assembly a CPC President of the Federation of Nigeria would have had the almost impossible task of run his agenda through a hostile and aggressively counterintuitive assembly.

The CPC President might will attempt to rule by executive decree and fiat to keep things going with such provisions exist but it would have been a throwback to our old military times as a frustrated president with all his good intentions but lack of powers of persuasion toward a strident legislature would have found and Nigeria would have been so badly served.

Fixing wrong aims

A leading politician needs a working majority but also an effective opposition such that radical reforms would require the persuasion of the some of the opposition through compromise, consensus or deals – that is politics.

In essence, the opposition parties for the 2011 should have had the strategy of extending their reach to a national presence rather than their regional predominance; a feat that they have hardly pulled off and it goes without saying that parties would need to merge to offer Nigeria the semblance of a serious, credible and decent opposition.

The elections

It is against this backdrop that the election violence after the presidential elections was unfortunate and that might well affect that ability for the opposition parties to gain new acreage as people out of fear and terror might have stayed away allowing for the status quo of Nigerian elections to thrive like ballot box snatching, intimidation of voters and observers alike and incredulous results.

The goodwill and praise that mounted after the first two Saturdays of elections seems to have dissipated into fear, acrimony, death and destruction, the fallout has yet to be fully appreciated but its effects will be far-reaching.

Many of the ad-hoc INEC staff comprised of NYSC members failed to show up for duty because they did not receive convincing assurances of safety and security, where they did, some were bullied, harassed, beaten and possibly came to great harm.

Bombs went off in the North and in the South-East there was major unrest whilst in the South-West some political big-wigs strutted around when they should not have and there were signs of apathy again.

The turnout when the figures are tallied might well be lower as reports of voting without accreditation were made on the Twitter hashtag of #NigeriaDecides.

Sitting back

Meanwhile, INEC is yet to declare results for 18 out of 90 Senate seats and 78 out of the 312 House of Representative seats contested on the 9th of April, it shows how much energy has been expended in the presidential elections to the detriment of the elections that really do matter for making an effective opposition.

The next few days would determine what Nigeria has really decided will be its government for next four years, there is really no case to be made to successfully overturn the presidential election results but there is a bigger case to be made for the emergence initially of an opposition coalition of parties with a national representation and hopefully the evolution of that into a working political party where first and foremost the country is put before self.


[1] The 2012 Republican primary: The field thins | The Economist

[2] 234Next | UPDATE: The April 26 elections

[3] List of Nigerian state governors - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Politics of Nigeria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IX - Analysing the Presidential Results

Saturday 23 April 2011

Africa: Surveying the ruins of Made in China

Let’s say Sino-reticence

I wrote a bit about China in Africa in December and January that I almost turned into a Sinophobe, I even was invited to share my views on a proposed podcast that did not get published for whatever reasons that the other party did not care to share with me.

However, I have not taken my eyes off the topic per se, it only seems others have done a better job of covering the issues from apologists to anthropologists and everything you stick between them.

I must state that I welcome in general the presence of China in Africa but my concern is with the kinds of deals, contracts and arrangements we build with the Chinese that appear not to benefit Africans as much as it should appear to.

The level of investment by China in Africa is watering sums of money that they seem to have excess of and at pains to know what to do with the stash.

Made in China

A recent report in the Economist [1] however brings to light a concern that has been a problem in China and Asia with regards recent reports of tainted milk [2] for instance, then the 2007 melamine pet food recalls [3] in Europe and the United States, the Chinese toys tainted with lead paint [4] that peaked in 2007 but was still an issue into 2010 and now the African version of houses of cards covered later in this blog.

The “Made in China” tag or maybe even the "Made by the Chinese" tag has people questioning whether they are getting value for money or being ripped off; a lingering suspicion about sharp practices and a number of projects built by the Chinese that seem to have lost their presumed durability and purpose like putting up a woollen umbrella in torrential rain.

Yes, rain apparently swept away a 130km (81 miles) road from Lusaka to Chirundu in Zambia and hospital built in Luanda, Angola soon became unsafe to inhabit because of cracks that appeared in the walls within months of its opening.

Fantastic fireworks

It gets worrisome if the seemingly gold-plated and fanciful turn-key projects majorly run and manned by the Chinese are edifices of papier-mâché awaiting the right conditions to reveal shoddy, sub-standard and slap-dash practices that adhere to no rules or standards.

The fantastic pyrotechnics and fireworks only last for the duration of the burning up of the active ingredient and then we are left with just a memory of the spectacle – God knows, Africa needs more than firework displays.

Some of my previous blogs talk about poor human resources management and labour protections such that the difference between the influx of the West and the Chinese was one trying to raise the bar and the other looking for the basement or lower that they can get away with.

Armies of terracotta

The Chinese are beginning to leave indelible footprints around Africa with Africa and Africans taking the brunt of the abuse and lack of care, whilst governments in need of the easy money abdicate their responsibility to the governed leaving the oppositions in many countries an opportunistic galvanising message of showing how the leadership has been derelict in their core responsibilities.

In another area, the Chinese have cornered local markets with better production facilities and cheaper goods that have literally put local traders and manufacturers out of business. For the African customer, this appears to be good news but it leaves Africa at the opposite intent of that age-old proverb about giving a man a fish to feed him a day and teaching him to fish to feed him his whole life.

The Chinese are doing all the fishy business and no one is learning how to fish to be about to compete on any terms. Armies of terracotta cannot fight real battles.

We need to play our friends

Africa is far becoming the Eldorado for the Chinese and they are coming to fulfil their dreams whilst Africans must begin to ensure they share in some dream rather than face a recurring nightmare.

Rather than allow the Chinese to play Africans against each other, it is important for Africa to man-up on their deal-making and gain the backbone to say like the President of Angola once said to his Chinese counterpart, “You are not our only friend.”


[1] The Chinese in Africa: Trying to pull together | The Economist

[2] Latest Tainted Milk Fatalities Rock China | East Asia and Pacific | English

[3] 2007 pet food recalls - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] CHINA Chinese toys tainted by lead or made by child labour - Asia News

Friday 22 April 2011

Nigeria: Ukeoma Ikechukwu - A Nigerian Hero and Martyr

They serve unsung

Sadness and grief, horror and terror as a nation sheds the blood of her young on the altar of the selfish and criminal desires of others.

Young men and women called into the service of their nation immediately after graduation to faraway regions of their motherland to help and contribute whilst learning of the great diversity of a nation that strains at maintaining a semblance of unity.

Their faith in a brighter future and their altruistic goals soar over the privations of a year of penurious service where new friendships can be developed for life and new experiences can made the difference of a life well lived.

Usually, unsung, unheralded, disrespected and maligned, they bear this call to service as a cross, constantly belittled and berated by those who probably need their service most.

Our selfless NYSC

It was a masterstroke of project management to ask the National Youth Service Corps members to become ad-hoc staff for the Independent National Election Commission for both the voter registration exercise early in the year and the elections in April 2011.

We thought having them in this function will eliminate bias, impartiality and the suborning of the system to criminal ends. The NYSC took all the flak for the lack of preparedness of INEC which was derelict in its responsibility to protect their staff and pay them on time.

We read of too many instances of these young people sleeping rough, getting harassed, beaten up and sometimes getting killed for doing their service to the nation.

Either by compulsion or willingness, these are probably the only class of Nigerians we can truly say have put their country first; before self, before comfort, before welfare and before much else; the most they get is probably grudging praise and the scars, hopefully with fond memories that would make for amazing story-telling at some other time.

The terror in Nigeria

After the presidential elections on the 16th of April, 2011, violence broke out in the North that left many NYSC members far away from home and safety at the risk of great harm. The stories were horrifyingly desperate as people tried all they could to get these amazing Nigerians to some safety. Some were lucky and many are still missing and others came to unimaginably harrowing deaths.

The numbers are rising and there is very little that could assuage and understand the grief of parents, siblings, colleagues, friends and other acquaintances at the loss of these wonderful examples of selflessness.

Ukeoma Ikechukwu

I am most touched by the example of Ukeoma Ikechukwu who according to his Facebook profile [1] attended National High School in Aba and then the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he hails from the South of Nigeria but was on national duty and INEC service in Bauchi State in Northern Nigeria for the elections.

He was declared missing soon afterwards and confirmed dead earlier today; that is the sad story of our nation, people who serve her risk being served to her in all sorts of circumstances.

Mr. Ukeoma Ikechukwu whilst I do not know him must however not go unsung and unappreciated even by those who remotely have a connection to him because he embodies the promise of a Nigeria we seek and yearn for exemplified in a number of postings on his Facebook page.

His favourite quote talks about the value of character, an inestimable virtue and many trade away for selfish gain - When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost something is lost but when character is lost all is lost.

Stand for God and my nation

What is most touching is the last post he made to Facebook [2] in the early hours of the 17th April, 2011 and this should stand as a testament to the man for all posterity.

Na wao! This CPC suporters would hv killed me yesterday, no see threat oooo. Even after forcing underaged voters on me they wanted me to give them the remaining ballot paper to thiumb print. Thank God for the police and am happy i could stand for God and my nation. To all corps members who stood despite these threats esp. In the north bravo! Nigeria! Our change has come.

He was a man who under threat and possible loss of life, pressed into the electoral malpractice of allowing underaged persons to vote who still found the wherewithal and courage to engage the police to prevent the egregious criminality of thumb printing the unused ballot papers.

In a land far from his comfort zone he had faith in the police and what they could do, despite the terrifying experience he was happy to stand for God and his nation and then commend his colleagues in this exercise for keeping firm in the face of these serious threats.

Then he wrote what was in the minds and hearts of everyone including many of those who attempted to suborn the process - Nigeria! Our change has come.

We shall remember him

Hope undiminished, service so selfless, Ukeoma Ikechukwu represents to all Nigerians, young and old the promise of a future that this democratic season offered.

In his short life, he has become a martyr to the cause of a Nigeria still striving to reach its potential, he has in his own small way buttressed the reputation of institutions handling the electoral process and he has given Nigeria an enviable name to be proud of.

I offer my most heartfelt condolence to his kith and kin and pray that his pure and graceful soul rest in peace.

In the words of our national anthem, it is important that the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain. Let not the work of the many NYSC members like Ukeoma Ikechukwu be in vain, let not our quest for an accountable democracy be in vain, let not the quest for justice be in vain, let not the hope that he expressed come to naught.

Ukeoma Ikechukwu, I doff my hat to you, you will never be forgotten.


[1] Ukeoma Ikechucwu – Facebook Profile (membership required)

[2] Ukeoma Ikechukwu – Facebook (membership required)

Childhood: Some things I said

Calling to attention

Chatting to my dad yesterday evening had us reminiscing about times long past reminding me of some things that still stick in the minds of others who ask after me every once in a while.

They all know my name but I seem to be remembered for much else that sounds so funny when talked about today.

I was only 5 when I addressed people as – Ladies and Gentlemen – as so, just over a week ago some visitors calling on my father referred to me with that greeting; laughter followed and then some talk about me and how long ago seen they had seen me.

Learning about chaos

When we returned to Nigeria there was so much that I appeared to notice around me, we were on our way to our village by public transport and I noticed that everyone seemed to talking at once.

So, I said aloud something along the lines of everyone behaving like a barbarian and how could anyone hear the other if they were all talking at once.

Apparently, I had seriously annoyed a soldier who was also a passenger had gone for his belt but would not have dared when everyone warned him to behave sparing my hide.

Can’t see myself

However, after we got to the village, the heavens opened and I was carried on the shoulders of my uncle as the fanfare of welcome continued through the day.

As night fell it got so dark that the only light came from oil and kerosene lamps but there was a point that I said, “It is so dark, how do you see yourselves? I can’t even see myself.”

I suppose that was my cry to Light Up Nigeria some 40 years ago as I remonstrated to my dad that I did not think I was that much a precocious kid feigning a rather unconvincing innocence.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Thought Picnic: My Nigerian Philosophy

Where I am from

Certain events over the last few days but in process over decades have presaged my writing this blog about my Nigerian philosophy, my tweets have sat in Nigeria as if I was resident, feeling the heat of the sun and hearing the sound of the drums, my blogs even more so.

I was born an Englishman; I had an amazing Nigerian childhood that developed into a turbulent Nigerian adolescence and a rather disillusioned young Nigerian adulthood.

I left Nigeria, the country of my formative years to become an Englishman again and met with the baggage of besmirched Nigerian reputations that had me working harder, speaking louder and showing more clearly that Englishmen of Nigerian heritage and by extension a majority of Nigerians are honest, trustworthy, able, capable achievers.

Ambassadors of Nigeria

The Nigerian-ness followed me by name though there are times people reading my profile have though I was a well-travelled Japanese man, it had its benefits for me and disappointments for those who learnt differently.

I believe that there are many like me, who in past couple of decades have worked to change the impression of Nigerians amongst our local communities, we are unwittingly ambassadors of Nigeria; we are inadvertently helping people decide if we and by extension again Nigeria can be treated with respect, allowed the benefit of doubt and given access to opportunities that were once closed to us.

Nigerians at home may not necessarily see personal ambassadorial pressures as those in the Diaspora do but the truth is we live in a global world, first as our government and their policies; then we as the people inter-connected no more as disconnected from the world because of the Internet and through many other works of endeavour. Our image is simultaneously shaped at home and abroad.

The old narratives of Nigeria need to be discarded and retold to find the truths from the half-truths to debunk the conjectures that make for fact and destroy the stereotypes that dog us each day.

We build and some seek to pull down for their own selfish and hedonistic ends but that is hardly the Nigerian narrative as I concur with Chiamanda Adichie about the danger of the single story [1].

We are not a single story

Nigeria is not a single story of divided, corrupt, ungovernable and failed – those are the easy epithets that make the Nigerian story understandable to the unschooled and the outsider, we risk making it our own story if we hear it long enough.

When we search within ourselves as individuals, we know what we are capable of and there must be a whole range of like-minded and driven Nigerians in Nigeria and around the globe that have the ways and the means to make that change happen for our country.

The recent presidential vote shows that we are not as divided [2] as it once was the single story of North-South or Muslim-Christian fault-lines, we all have aspirations as Nigerians and are working to wrest power from the hands of those who have not served us well for the last 50 years of our independence.

A ship without a rig

We have passed a particular threshold, a president has been elected as some cling to that old single story of the elections being rigged again – they probably were but would the absence of rigging have changed the lay of the land that gave the ruling party the presidency again after 12 failed years? Unlikely.

The reason being, another single story of an opposition, weak, unprepared, selfish and egotistical, unready to put country before self and without the essential national footprint to match the ruling party in all regions of the country to wrestle power from them.

One is found having to make the argument that it is not the job of the ruling party to build its opposition, it is for those who want change that the ruling party does not offer to want it bad enough to start from the grassroots from every corner of Nigeria and build a movement for change that fights for the change we want.

They need to tell a compelling and convincing story that would move the thumbs to the right party spot on the ballot paper.

2011 was definitely not the year for the opposition at the presidency, but they have seized some ground and prominent ones too in the national legislature and they can do more in the gubernatorial and state assembly elections.

The need for government

Government is about being connected to the people, even from my libertarian perspective of individual rights of self-expression Nigeria still needs strong government to facilitate infrastructure issues as power and transport, socio-political issues as education and health, reputational issues as separation of powers, rule of law, corruption and strong institutions and a civil society that believes in the good of their country.

A lot of this is aspirational and there is no clear path to some promised land, there are many who do not believe Goodluck Jonathan is the harbinger of the change Nigeria seeks, that may be the case but if he is going to President for the next 4 years we had better start thinking up how to make him do the work even if he cannot seem to talk the talk.

Only those who have the reins of power can make things happen in government, it is bane of our democracy where the winner takes all and the loser is left standing almost bereft of purpose or fight.

Where we must place ourselves

Nigeria cannot afford to stagnate for the next 4 years whilst we wait for the opposition to get their act together and form a credible united front that can challenge for the greater prize, like a poker game, we have been dealt a bad hand already, we can either fold or bluff.

The bluff should not be taken literally but this is the case to make; this is the first president to be elected with a somewhat credible election, that is new story; it probably means he can face down the usual political jobbers, that is a possible story; an elected president might be better than an accidental president, that is an interesting story.

There are many stories to write about Nigeria as we open this new chapter and in the words of the President – a new dawn – it is however left to us Nigerians if our story will remain the single story that has been told so many times we know the words by heart or it would be a new exciting, interesting, adventurous story that takes Nigerians all to a new place of planning, purpose, progress and peace.


[1] Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story | Video on

[2] Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IX - Analysing the Presidential Results

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review X - The North

The divides are not there

The Presidential Elections this year afforded us the opportunity to revisit the accepted narratives about Nigeria to see if they still fetch true or they are norms that have been perpetrated without question and analysis.

The situation was such that the abuse of numbers allowed the perpetuation of the narrative and the labels that continually divide Nigeria along regional or religious fault lines.

However, the more one looks at the voting patterns the more it appears these defaults are ready for the scrapheap and a reeducation is needed to understand the complexities of our society rather than subscribe to the simplistic rhetoric that gets exploited for ulterior motives and gains by unscrupulous politicians, clerics and power brokers pretending to be community leaders.

One party does unite

Having performed an analysis of the results [1] of the Presidential elections, one is at pains to continually accept this notion of a North-South divide nor is the oft-touted Muslim dominated North as true as we are made to believe else how would there be clashes between religionists.

Beyond buttressing the case for a united Nigeria what seems to have been lost in the accepted narrative is an understanding of the dynamics of Northern Nigeria.

The real divisions

The BBC in a piece about a divided Nigeria [2] some 2 weeks ago laid out a number of geo-political and socio-economic maps of Nigeria highlighting the divisions in Nigeria. The wealth [Graphic], health [Graphic] and literacy [Graphic] maps are what seem to define the real divisions in Nigeria.

The way it appears, the North has been left behind and successive leaderships in the North have failed to rise to the aspirations of the people as a feudal system appears to thrive making the people a ready mob in the hands of unscrupulous power brokers.

Where the North lags

This view is gains more credence as Salisu Suleiman writes in his blog titled Contextualizing protests in Northern Nigeria [3] where he notes that the post-election violence did target the so-called leaders of the North and I quote, “the political, military and business elite as well the traditional institutions that have held the region back and truncated any attempt to educate the people and free them from the yolk of illiteracy and poverty.”

One can find no greater indictment of leaders in that region who have done little for their people locally and then seek to bring that thinking to the national front.

By the time Suleiman lists the issues of education, healthcare, agriculture, corruption and self-serving leadership you begin to get a good picture of why the North appears to be a powder-keg of discontent ready to go off spontaneously when the possible promise of better opportunity appears to be snuffed out.

The hopes of the North dashed?

Tatalo Alamu who writes for The Nation newspaper on Sundays, in a piece that was written on the 3rd of April, 2011, titled The messiah and the militia [4], Tatalo frames his discourse in almost Apocalyptic prose starting with the capturing the feel of a typical CPC political rally with Muhammadu Buhari as the flag-bearer, “This is not an exultant crowd waiting for a political emancipator. This is a traumatized mob waiting for a messiah.

The summary is Buhari appears to represent for these people the escape required by his people from the clutches of leaders before who never addressed the issues that kept them far behind in the Nigeria stakes for progress and development.

His inability to assume power would first be expressed in disappointment, then despair and everything else that follows – there was something quite prophetic about that piece because 15 days on, the hopes were dashed, the numbers did not add up and the Buhari or the Messiah they had hoped will come to their deliverance could not ascend the throne of the kingdom.

What the North needs now

There is no doubt that Northern Nigeria needs visionary leadership unhindered by the smokescreens of religious piety masquerading as a society at ease with itself. They need a new political class of selfless people ready to serve their communities and raise all the standards of living that would give Nigeria the better tale of a nation united in purpose and progress.

The question is whether the Federal Government can spearhead change and local governments would be less the vehicles of promoting serfdom and feudalism in a place that is deserving of a lot more than it has been saddled with for decades.

It is to the shame of leaders of the North that we find ourselves writing about these issues today.


[1] Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IX - Analysing the Presidential Results

[2] BBC News - Nigeria: A nation divided

[3] Suleiman's Blog: Contextualizing protests in Northern Nigeria

[4] The Nation - The messiah and the militia in Google cache or as Google Docs archive

Twitter tweet - Northern #NigeriaDecides narrative - The Votes the Messiah the leaders

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IX - Analysing the Presidential Results

Where we are

There is every need to conduct a thorough analysis of the distribution of votes for the 2011 Presidential Elections held in Nigeria on Saturday, the 16th of April, 2011.

In about 48 hours after the elections the Independent National Electoral Commission had fully collated the results and announced a winner, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the ruling PDP party.

Now, the ruling party has been in power since 1999 and for the previous elections there have been irregularities bordering on the abominable that left Nigeria in shame, voiceless and disgraced as unable to conduct credible elections, talk less of them being free and fair.

Credible enough

With these elections, they are acceptably free, generally fair and credible enough according to many observers and though the opposition parties appear to have their misgivings, those will need to be tested in court if they are to shift any of the results in any considerable direction.

As the numbers came through, the situation was hijacked by different interests and used to promote agendas inimical to the well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians. People were ready to purvey all sorts of assumptions about tribalism, religion, region and every differentiating element that gives substance that atrocious idea of some Sovereign National Conference.

Nigeria will endure beyond us

In 2014, Nigeria as an entity will be 100 years old, there are few Nigerian living that saw that day, as an independent country, it has existed for 50 years apart from the years of the civil war between 1967 and 1970; we are now 41 years beyond that time with a majority of our estimated 150 million citizens being under the age of 41.

In essence, we need to find ways to unite, co-exist, collaborate and band together as the nation that preceded many of us and make it work as the entity known as Nigeria and assume with pride the identity of Nigerian.

As far as the elections are concerned, we need to debunk a number of fallacies before they take root and destroy our common purpose as we resolve to make Nigeria great and progress towards achieving its potential.

Arbitrary Nigerian Divisions

I have used source material from the Nigeria Election Coalition website [1] and worked on it to present the data that I discuss in this blog. The graphic beneath this blog supports my analysis.

I will first deal with the notion that the Nigeria was split in half with a North-South divide in terms of votes between PDP and CPC.

Nigeria is divided into 6 geo-political regions [2] namely, North-Central (NC), North-East (NE), North-West (NW), South-East (SE), South-South (SS) and South-West (SW).

Majorities and thresholds

In terms of majorities per state, CPC took 12 states concentrated in the NC, NE and NW regions, ACN took 2 states in the SW region and PDP took 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in 5 regions except the NW.

However, in terms if exceeding the constitutional requirement for over 25% of the votes cast in the states, CPC got 17 states including the FCT in 3 regions where they already have their majorities, ACN got 4 states in the SW region and PDP took 33 states including the FCT in all 6 regions.

In the NE region where the PDP had 3 states under 25%, the PDP still made an average of 34.54% for that region compared to CPC’s 57.63, in the NW where PDP was always beaten into second place; PDP came away with 32.13% compared to CPC’s 60.26%.

When the whole northern regions of NC, NE and NW are taken together, PDP takes 42.66% of the vote to CPC’s 49.61% where they are supposedly strong.

Between regions and nations

According the Machiavellian psephologists, the south is probably the PDP’s stronghold with PDP taking the over 94% in the SE and SW regions of 11 states except Edo State where they bucked the trend with 87.28% and this was the odd state where CPC managed a rather high 2.86%.

CPC had no showing in the South with 0.37, 0.89% and 4.76% for the SE, SS and SW regions respectively and this compares quite unfavourably with PDP’s 98.00%, 95.97% and 57.80% in the same regions. ACN which apparently has the SW region as its stronghold only managed 34.38%.

It goes without saying that CPC is a stronger regional party in the NE and NW geo-political regions but it does not leave PDP far behind in the North as it does not even make a respectable appearance in the South.

One can conclude that PDP offers the promise of a united Nigeria than any of its rivals as it has a good national spread with trouncing majorities in its strongholds of the South.

The warped notion of a divided Nigeria does not pass the muster if viewed through the prism of PDP and it means ACN and CPC have a lot of work to do make inroads in regions outside their strongholds.

What religious divide?

Whilst the traditional Muslim north is concentrated in the NE and NW regions the CPC takes 58.95% of the vote to 33.34% for the PDP – maybe a beating in political terms but PDP is quite visible without doubt.

So, there again, we find that the religious divide when viewed from the CPC perspective is there but not as stark as to make it a case for Nigeria’s division along religious lines.

I would suggest that Nigeria is probably more united than we ever thought it was under one party and it shows what other parties need to do, they need to seek a common platform, merge, consolidate, compromise and work on a consensus or the ruling party will forever rule Nigeria in perpetuity.

Whether there are Nigerians in opposition parties able to put country before self remains to be seen but there is evidence to the contrary.

Enthusiasm and apathy abound

The highest number of voters came out in the NW region with 10,800,075 people representing a 53.75% turnout, the highest percentage turnout was in the SS region with 67.96% representing 6,339,316 voters.

The SW seems to be the most apathy-ridden with just 32.90% voter turnout adding up to 4,613,712 voters and a classic case of the SW abdicating its civic responsibility in a matter of national importance.

All other regions had over a 50% voter turnout apart from the NC region with 46.28%. The state with the most registered voters was Lagos State with 6,108,069 people but only 1,945,044 bothered to get up, the most voters came from Kano State with 2,673,228 voting out of a registered 5,027,297 voters.

The state most excited about this tranche of Nigeria Decides was Bayelsa State, from where the incumbent President hails with a 86.61% voter turnout compared to 28.01% from Ogun State which has suffered the throes of despicable megalomania in the hands of an ex-President, a departing governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives – the melee must have turned people completely off politics and that is a shame.

Understandable grievances

When you look at the kind of turnouts across the states and especially in the North where the numbers were higher but hardly reflected in the same inclinations of the South, the voters might well be aggrieved if the numbers across the nation do not go their way when you consider their enthusiasm, their willingness and readiness to participate in electing a new leader.

If the bulk of voters were in the North, they would have expected their votes to make the majority for whoever takes the spoils for the Presidency but their patron never crossed the rivers to the south and so the fault lies with that party rather than the people.

The ruling party is ready to rule

People might have all sorts of opinions about the ruling party and it is not one that I have found much inclination to support but the reality in Nigeria is no other party is making inroads across the nation to give the ruling party a real run for their money.

The opposition parties were ill-prepared, poorly managed and lacking in national purpose, the best they could hope for is reduce the regional footprints of the ruling party, it was a rather big ask to expect any of the opposition parties to unseat the ruling party in a presidential contest in 2011.

If others must rule

I would hope the opposition parties work to seize a number of gubernatorial seats from the ruling party, dominate a few more State Assemblies to bring them closer to the people and take the bigger share of the remaining 19 Senate and 48 House of Representative seats to be contested on the 26th of April, 2011.

In closing, the results show a nation that is one and whole, strong and united, sound and able to choose a leader that we hope will really use the mandate he has received in credible elections to change Nigeria for the better.

I believe in a place called Nigeria, what say you?


[1] Presidential Election Results: Nigeria Election Coalition:

[2] - List of Nigeria geo political zones

Monday 18 April 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VIII - A President-Elect

Done and dusted

A new Nigeria just hatched out of its egg in the last 48 hours wherein the presidential elections took place and all results announced with the declaration of a winner.

As it stands, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been declared the winner of the elections having scored the highest number of votes and met the threshold of attaining 25% of votes cast in more than two-thirds of the states of the Nigerian federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

There is scope for analysis of the numbers as people draw conclusions and assumptions from the results but this is a time when Nigeria needs to present unity rather than division, resolve rather than prevarication, progress rather than stagnation and optimism rather than cynicism.

They are credible

Despite the misgivings of some and the facetiousness of those who will never be pleased no matter how hard we tried, these elections were by far the freest, the fairest, the most credible and the best involved people have been in deciding who leads them.

Whilst the turnout was low in some areas, what mattered was those who decided and took the opportunity to vote and that was just a shade over 50% of the electorate. It would have been nice to have a situation very much like Australia where voting is compulsory but that requires a lot more technology to implement.

Nigeria has taken a number of baby-steps that are leaps and bounds beyond the rotten elections of 2007, we proved we could do it and do it right.

The refusal of opposition parties to endorse the results does not invalidate the will of the people, it simply represents a difference of opinion and that is all.

Commend and thank

The incumbent President has to be commended for giving the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the independence to do its work, he presented the scope for credible elections.

Professor Attahiru Jega as chairman of INEC has presented any Project Manager worth their salt a case-study in turning around a failing situation that was fast becoming an embarrassing farce into a remarkable success of managing time, plans, people and resources.

Employing members of the National Youth Corps Service (NYSC) as INEC staff took the scope for manipulating the elections out of the locally connected civil and public service staff and put it in the hands of those who in service of their nation could be assumed to be unbiased, impartial and selfless – some were suborned but that was to be expected.

Professor Jega found a way of delivering credible elections in a generally corrupt environment by making the people stakeholders in protecting their votes and by having the whole process conducted at the polling units with administration only pertaining to the collation of results.

We own our elections

The entreaty to voters to observe, record and report from their polling units meant that discrepancies could be traced back through the paper trail and submitted reports to eliminate electoral malpractice everywhere. It was the right thing to do, INEC could not be everywhere but the people to whom the voting pertained could be and help to ensure INEC is fully apprised of developments in almost 120,000 polling units.

With the appointment of collation officers for each state, these being eminent and leading academics, Professor Jega shared the burden of reputation and integrity because each of these collation officers would have demanded to see the paper trail, scrupulously and meticulously handled the data and no doubt double-checked the tallies before putting their names to the business of staking their hard earned reputations on announcing the results.

It was a triumph of choosing the right people carefully and creating a critical mass that could only result in credible elections.

Reading the figures liberally

The vote figures make interesting reading, depending on how they are read, in terms of wins, the country was literally cut in half along the lines of a North-South divide, but closer inspection shows that the ruling party is still the national party and the opposition parties are still regional parties.

It has always been my view that the opposition parties would likely reduce the footprint of the ruling party in the legislative and gubernatorial elections but they were nowhere near being able to take the presidency. They just did not have the spread either singularly or in a coalition, it has to be a work in progress to shift the ruling party’s predominance to become a credible and effective opposition.

Much else to do

INEC’s job is by no means complete, the gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections will hold on Tuesday the 26th of April, 2011, just after the Easter holidays and we must not forget the postponed 19 Senate seats and the 48 House of Representatives seats.

Nigeria however has a credible, viable and possible future where the people elected have a legitimate mandate which they should assume with a sense of accountability to the electorate.

The electorate should not slack in demanding answers to their questions, solutions to their problems and actions to their situations that will move the country on to the right track of realising its potential and inheriting its promise.

I believe in Nigeria

Nigerians all, at home and abroad should be proud to be called Nigerian or be associated with Nigeria.

We have spoken; let the country start that great journey with the President-elect ready to take the mantle of leadership and lead with vision, mission, destiny and attainment.

Those who need to wallow in every kind of negativity they can muster are within their rights to do so, they can decide to catch up later but they will not be allowed to hold us back no matter how deep their grievances.

I believe today in a country called Nigeria – What say you?


INEC Nigeria: Summary of the Presidential election results per state.

INEC Nigeria: Summary of votes cast for each political party.

Previous Reviews

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review I

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review II - New Election Dates

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review III - Who votes on Saturday.

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part I to Voting

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part II - We can

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review V

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VI - Report to Prevent Rigging

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VII - Change!

Sunday 17 April 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VII - Change!

Board the change wagon

Change! That is what is happening in Nigeria as the results of the Presidential elections begin to take shape before us and we realise that the Nigeria that went into the elections is coming out of it a rather different country.

In the process, we risk the likelihood of not seeing the forest for the trees and the gains made in the march to serious democratic representation in Nigeria would be lost just when it appeared the enthusiasm and mass participation of Nigerians might force as sense of accountability upon the elected.

The conduct of the elections in general appear to be quite free, very fair and might even crest the threshold of credible; there are cynics and curmudgeons who would go to the ends of the earth to seek out the problems and highlight those as the generalised state of affairs.

It was quite irksome that a writer for the Wall Street Journal took that view of things amidst the progress, rather than go on the defensive, we decided he was a distraction on the verge of losing credibility and relevance as an authority on Nigerian affairs.

Losing ground and giving way

The changes happening before our eyes are myriad, buoyed by the experiences of the last weekend’s elections for the legislature, it appears more people came out to vote and there are areas that even had larger numbers of enthusiastic voters ready to vote and protect the exercise of their franchise through the count to the announcements.

The ruling party that seemed to have a solid national footprint before any of the elections is steadily losing ground to other parties, it is still far ahead in the legislature but it would not have carte blanche in the affairs of the nation anymore, it would have to negotiate its way and hopefully, representatives from other parties will resist the urge to carpet-cross allowing for a more vibrant democratic setting.

A smarter democracy

There is an apparent sophistication in the voting pattern of Nigerians where for the legislature, it looked like a 4-party affair, the ruling party still retaining a more national spread but the other parties were consolidating their localities and regions whilst seeking to spread out to other areas – I would expect this to be more obvious in the gubernatorial and state assembly elections in 9 days.

The presidential elections looks more like a 2-party affair with very polarised showings where one party appears to be stronger and very few where they seem to be head-to-head – this reveals a lot about the thinking that presents in the numbers that are coming up – the presidency is hardly a regional thing, it is a Nigerian thing and the incumbents are being given a run for their money.

The godfathers have departed

The other interesting thing is that the expected goal of godfathers to deliver their constituencies is no more a given, prominent candidates are not necessarily wining in their backyards as if the electorate has a mind of its own, it has taken its own destiny in its hands and is charting a course rarely travelled in the Nigerian political landscape.

The old habits of buying off votes were frowned at, some party moneybags got beaten within an inch of their lives, people have decided for them to have a say in how they are governed their vote has to become priceless and untainted with filthy lucre. The politics of the belly is giving way to the politics of determination and it requires no erudite bearing to appreciate that in Nigeria – we imperil ourselves if we consider the illiterate a lesser Nigerian and bereft of ability to make quality decisions.

It was evident that the President chose an obscure governor without a serious political base to be his vice-president and eventual running mate to ensure that he remained the front-runner for his party – this with the seeming demise of the preponderance of godfathers might well mean if the sitting President gets elected the forces that wreaked havoc within his party would have been tamed by drubbing delivered by the electorate.

Seeing their solvers

This election is hardly over by any stretch of the imagination, what is appearing to some as a North-South divide should be seem more as the bridge to unity, the Niger Delta issue which had not gotten adequate attention of the President probably meant the less well-off would choose a different leader from those who are better off and somewhat apathetic to the democratic system – in what would be a self-fulfilling prophecy to those who believe the country is divided, the decision about who eventually wins would be made for them by those who embraced this election season as an opportunity for revolution and change.

Sceptics can be allowed the courage of the convictions and they would also reap the consequences of their decision not to engage as they sat on the fence carping at everything happening with elitist know-all and superiority.

It isn’t over yet

Even the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is rapidly adapting to change, taking lessons from the postponements, the previous elections and soundings from social media to improve on their service; their website [1] has been totally revamped to provide a professional access point for results and activities of the organisation.

A technicality however looms, Section 134 of the Nigerian Constitution [2] prescribes the provision necessary for declaring a president duly elected after elections, it is as inscrutable as it loaded with ambiguity ripe for interpretation that would have lawyers working overtime in the field of advanced political arithmetic.

Over the next few days, we would get a clear picture of who might emerge as president or even the possibility of a run-off election – these are uncharted waters and if dragons be there, they shall be slain.

God Bless Nigeria, change has surely come, it may however not be like what you expected – see the trees, see the forest and be prepared for the wildlife.


[1] INEC Nigeria Homepage

[2] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: Federal Executive

Previous Reviews

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review I

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review II - New Election Dates

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review III - Who votes on Saturday.

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part I to Voting

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part II - We can

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review V

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VI - Report to Prevent Rigging