News / Africa

Nigerian Candidates Fear Election Violence, 'Godfatherism' in 2015

FILE - People gather at the site of a bomb explosion at a road in Kaduna, Nigeria, April 8, 2012.
FILE - People gather at the site of a bomb explosion at a road in Kaduna, Nigeria, April 8, 2012.
Heather Murdock
— More than 800 people were killed in Kaduna, a city in northern Nigeria, in clashes after the 2011 elections.  As 2015 elections approach, some young politicians say they can break the cycle of violence by encouraging activism.  Others say they fear what they call “political godfatherism” will shut down the youth voice before it is heard. 

Violence and politics in Kaduna are closely related. 

Horns are blown at a political rally in Kaduna, a traditional battle cry before a tribal attack. 

But there are also speeches, issues and peaceful rallies, even with the horns, and some young candidates in northern Nigeria say they are determined to prevent bloodshed during the 2015 national elections.

Suleman Shuaibu Shinkafi, 39, a candidate for a local chairman seat in Kaduna, is hanging posters and hoping to woo the youth vote before his elders get in the election race.  He says it is the political establishment that causes election violence, not any particular party.

“We will no longer allow these gray-haired people to continue ruling us," he said. "They have already victimized us.  They have already disappointed us.  We have no confidence in any of them.  So we want to come out and play the politics too.”

He says the aftermath of past elections were so violent partially because young people were hired to be violent by political elites.  If younger people are involved in politics, he says, their votes will not be for sale and they will refuse to be hired as thugs.  

A ruling party youth leader, Saidu Gwambe, 35, says hiring young people during elections also angers the public and fuels the violence. 

“It is unfortunate really. We the youth of Nigeria, our leaders, they are using youth when the politics is taking place. Sometimes they put youth [as] agents or [as] political thugs,” said Gwambe.

But some analysts say thuggery will be hard to get rid of.  Mustapha Mohammed Ankaew says new, young political candidates do not have a chance because rich leaders will continue to pay off the poorest among them, a considerable portion of a society where more than half the population lives in dire poverty.

“Nigerians today, they are being corrupted by political elders and political leaders," he said. "So there is no way that someone that is newly recruited to politics to say he is going to win.”

Ankaew says the only way for the next round of elections to be safe, fair and successful in electing qualified candidates is to end “political godfatherism,” a system of corruption that he says is entrenched in Nigerian politics.

A “godfather” is a rich patron who backs a candidate either by funding their campaign or paying thugs to buy votes, steal votes or scare voters. 

In return, the godfather gets a cut of the considerable wealth the politician gains through corruption when he or she wins the race.

It is often said that no one without a godfather can win elections here, and as a result it is hard to find a politician that is not corrupt. 

But an opposition party member in northern Nigeria, Hafsat Babba, says it does not have to always be so. 

“That is why we are so undeveloped in Nigeria.  Most especially in the north because of this godfatherism," Babba said. "So the moment you feel you can come to the field, you can contest an election or you can perform very well I do not think you need any godfather to carry community, or even your state or even Nigeria.”

Young politicians say they have no godfathers, and that may kill their campaigns, or boost their popularity.  But they believe that if they can get their contemporaries excited about the elections, the godfathers will not be able to orchestrate violence or decide who wins.
 
Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.
 

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid