News / Africa

Nigerian Election Success Could Polish Country's Reputation

Attahiru Jega, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, reads the results sheet before he declared Nigeria's incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the winner of the presidential election, in Abuja, Nigeria, April 18, 2011
Attahiru Jega, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, reads the results sheet before he declared Nigeria's incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the winner of the presidential election, in Abuja, Nigeria, April 18, 2011
Drew Hinshaw

Nigeria may be able to polish its reputation and assume a wider role on the global stage if its upcoming gubernatorial polls are as seemingly free and fair as last week's presidential election, analysts say.

This oil-exporting country of 154 million people has long enjoyed the money and manpower to dominate its continent, and some analysts expect it to top South Africa as the most economically and politically powerful country in Africa by 2030.

Yet throughout decades of unruly and often corrupt rule, the main obstacle between Nigeria and its potential for global stewardship has been its poor international reputation for vote rigging, for corruption, and for its government's lukewarm commitment to democracy.

The country should be a member of the influential G20 (Group of 20 nations) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Nigerians during a 2009 visit.  But the country's reputation for corruption, she said, is a problem.

Analysts say, however, that Nigeria's reputation for corrupt, un-democratic, and inhumane rule may be on the mend following its most free and fair elections in recent memory.

The April 16 presidential poll, won by President Goodluck Jonathan, was widely hailed as reasonably fair by international observers like the Commonwealth of former British colonies and the African Union.  The outcome set off riots in the country's north, and Jonathan's opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, has said he will contest the results in court.  But the vote was nonetheless seen as a vast improvement over the previous election, five years ago, that was roundly criticized as chaotic and rigged.

The country will vote again to elect state governors on April 26, and Jonathan has asked Nigerians to conduct themselves peacefully throughout the poll, lest they mar the goodwill the country earned by holding a free and fair presidential election.  In his victory speech, Jonathan said the internationally-acclaimed vote has allowed Nigeria to take its rightful place in the community of nations.

"We have reiterated our faith in democracy which underscores our determination to join the free world where only the will of the people is the foundation of governance," said Jonathan.  "We will not let you down."

African analyst for the London-based watchgroup Chatham House Drew Vines says the country's first seemingly legitimate election in recent history will only bolster the West African powerhouse's growing influence in Africa and abroad.

"I think this is a really important moment for West Africa, and highly significant for Nigeria," said Vines.  "This is the best election in memory for Nigeria, and hopefully will provide a sound basis for Nigeria to reassert itself as one of the major countries of Africa."

In many respects, he said, Nigeria is already taking a more strident position in international affairs.

Jonathan, Vines says, has been unusually outspoken in favor of military reforms for the tiny, drug cartel-troubled state of Guinea-Bissau.

He also inserted himself into the center of last month's Ivory Coast conflict.  Nigeria co-sponsored a United Nations resolution for a military intervention to remove the country's incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, when he refused to concede a November 28 election.

In contrast, Africa's wealthiest and most influential nation, South Africa, offered Gbagbo a power-sharing agreement that Ivorian and Nigerian leaders harshly criticized.

That geopolitical clash between South Africa and Nigeria, Vines says, may be the first in a long tilt of power on the continent.

"Many people have missed the long term, forward modeling of where the world will be in 2030," added Vines.  "Nigeria could be a top 20 global economy - the only one in Africa, not South Africa. That's the potential for Nigeria if it gets its internal politics right."

However widely accepted its latest election, Nigeria still faces immense human rights crises that will compromise its ability to speak with authority on the world stage, according to Human Rights Watch researcher Eric Guttschuss.

Guttschuss says the country has yet to fully address brutality in its security forces, and corruption in its treasury.

"We have seen a significant improvement in these last polls, but [chief among] the steps going forward is to address these very deep seated issues of corruption, of political violence, of impunity for all classes, of human rights violations as well as abuses by the police and other security forces," noted Guttschuss.

If that can be accomplished, analysts say, Nigeria has a future as not only an African leader, but a world leader.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs