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

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs