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Features

Nigeria: The curse of post-election violence continues

Dibussi Tande

2011-04-21, Issue 526

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/72759

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‘In reality, the targets of the uprising are the so-called leaders in the North – 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.’ Dibussi Tande puts Nigeria’s post-election violence in context, with views from the African blogosphere.

Suleiman’s Blog seeks to put the post-election violence that erupted in (Northern) Nigeria in context:

‘It is easy to construe the violent protests that broke out in several northern states following the April 16th presidential elections as signs of intolerance or do or die politics… If any church or Christian was targeted, it is condemnable and completely uncalled for. It is totally indefensible and can only be explained, but not justified as the result of mindless, directionless mob action.

‘In reality, the targets of the uprising are the so-called leaders in the North – 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. In the same manner that sit tight rulers in North Africa and the Middle East are being toppled by popular movements in the Arab Spring uprisings, the protests in northern Nigeria can be viewed as rebellion against a backward and anachronistic feudal system…

‘For those seeking to understand the outbreaks of violence, there is another north. There is a north that has nothing to do with the usurpation of political and economic opportunities to the exclusion of other Nigerians. There is a north that is poor, hungry, illiterate and devoid of hope. There is a north that is as much a victim as the south of the corruption and arrogance of these narrow clique of northerners that is often presented as representing the entire region...

‘This is the north that is coming out to fight for its survival. As long as they stick to the objective of forcing out the corrupt and visionless elite, they need our support and understanding, not the usual ‘almajiri’ taunts. Perhaps, a better Nigeria might yet emerge.’

Akin in the City argues that the 16 April presidential election debunked a number of commonly-accepted narratives about Nigeria:

‘Having performed an analysis of the results 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…

‘The BBC in a piece about a divided Nigeria some two weeks ago laid out a number of geo-political and socio-economic maps of Nigeria highlighting the divisions in Nigeria. The wealth, health and literacy 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...

‘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.’

A Tunanina… highlights the positive role that the TV network NN24 and new technologies played in mobilising the youth vote during the Nigerian elections, but wonders whether these tools can really make politics more transparent:

‘It is commonly repeated in the media that tweeting and Facebook played a large role in the Egyptian revolution and the social media also seem to be a large part of a ‘youth consciousness’ here in Nigeria. Yet, Facebook and twitter and blogs are still very much limited to an upwardly mobile urban population which has the means to buy internet-accessible phones, or at least browse at an internet cafe. And, passion and commitment to transparency still cannot completely stop those who are determined to cause havoc, as we see in the increasingly worrisome trend of political terrorism throughout the country...

‘That said, I’m an optimistic person, and I do love to see how passionate those I know are about the elections... I love how friends on twitter re-tweet instructions from INEC about the rules for accreditation and voting, and how others campaign for their chosen candidates on Facebook. I love to see the i-reports sent to NN24 by young people from their phones and the democratizing role these new technologies seem to be playing in these elections...

‘The question, of course, is will the politicians who will be voted into power respect the faith the youth are placing in their votes? Or will they, despite the ‘free and fair’ vote, continue on with business as usual? And if that case, will new technologies make any difference in encouraging the youth to challenge the political culture in Nigeria in a more radical way or will it just comfort an elite that “their voices are being heard”?’

Angela Kintu revisits the recent violent crackdown on the Walk to Work demonstration in Uganda:

‘The Police will harp on about legal assembly and written permission for demonstrations, but was permission ever going to be granted? While the walk was in solidarity against high fuel and other prices and could therefore constitute a form of protest, walking by oneself to wherever can hardly be considered a form of assembly or procession...

‘Their error in judgement and so called “intelligence” reports is in thinking that this protest is about Kizza Besigye. It is not… this protest is about reality, frustration and desperate times. I am buying a litre of Ugandan made and grown cooking oil for sh6,500. I am paying sh3,600 for a litre of fuel. A tomato has gone up to sh300 at the very least. I don’t know about you, but that is breaking my budget. No one is paying me any more money for my work – in fact, I am chasing debtors left, right and centre. In one short week, Easter and school holidays will be upon me. Three short weeks after that, I must rustle up school fees and requirements…

‘What the puppet masters are misjudging is how deeply this affects all the Ugandans who do not have their grubby hands in the national coffers. Don’t mock us; help us!’

A World View explains why the international campaign to stop piracy off the Somali coast is not succeeding:

‘The international community's three-year effort to end piracy off the coast of Somalia is a waste of time; that was basically the message presented by the Foreign Minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Mohammed Abdulahi Omar Asharq, to an anti-piracy conference in Dubai on Monday…

‘Asharq is echoing a sentiment expressed by a number of military and piracy experts over the past few years (despite what Donald Trump may think): that so long as Somalia exists as a lawless state without a functioning national economy, the lure of the big money to be made capturing and ransoming ships along with the ability for pirates to operate from several port cities along the long Somali coast, piracy will continue in a big way in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. But international anti-piracy efforts have concentrated almost solely on intercepting pirates at sea, not trying to bring order and security to pirate ports like Haradheere and Eyl. The attempt of restoring a national government to Somalia, the TFG, is woefully underfunded and militarily only supported by a mission of African Union peacekeeping troops drawn from a handful of nations. The military of the TFG/AU mission spends most of its time fighting against the al-Shabaab Islamic insurgency, leaving them unable to provide security in the port cities and rout out the pirates. And indications are that there won't be a boost to the TFG coming anytime soon.’

African Moves is pleased with the ongoing unrest in Burkina Faso and hopes for the collapse of the Compaore regime:

‘I was in secondary school in '86 when Thomas Sankara arrived for the Non-Aligned Summit that was held in Zimbabwe. He literally shook the place up. He even upstaged the usual centre-of-attention, Muammar Gaddafi. For the following weeks, his name was on everyone's lips; "Who is this Sankara fellow?" That's how I became a Pan-Africanist, living in a country where few knew (or had heard of) "Upper Volta", or were even familiar with (so-called) Francophone Africa.

‘Now, 25 years later, it appears that me and Blaise Compaore have a rendezvous with history. I've been waiting for this moment, literally, for a quarter of a Century. When the demise of Blaise is announced, I'll savour the moment like no other. The evil conspiracy of French President (Francois Mitterrand) and his official boot-licker (Blaise Compaore), literally shattered one of the greatest experiments in positive upliftment ever attempted on African soil. I hope the gallant people of Burkina Faso bury Blaise Compaore in a shallow grave; the same dog's grave that Thomas Sankara was (initially) buried in. What goes around always comes around.’

Swazi Media laments that AIDS support groups are shutting down in Swaziland due to a lack of funding at the same time that more money is being allocated for the upkeep of the king:

‘But, while money cannot be found to keep the HIV AIDS support groups going, the same cannot be said about money for King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute Monarch.

‘In February this year (2011) the budget for King Mswati and the royal household was raised by E40 million (US$5.88 million) for the coming year. By comparison the US$130,000 for SWANNEPHA [Swaziland National Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS] is a drop in the ocean.

‘But it doesn’t end there. This is for the second consecutive year that the budget for King Mswati Royal increased by E40 million - in the 2010/11 financial year, the royal budget went from E130 million to E170 million.

‘The greed of King Mswati and the royal family seems to know no bounds. The Nation magazine reported this month (April 2011) that the King’s office spent about E13 million ($1. 8 million) on internal decor for three of the royal guest houses.

‘Yesterday was the King’s 43rd birthday and next week is the 25th anniversary of his victory in a power struggle within Swaziland that saw him crowned king.

‘You might therefore be pleased to know that the budget for the Celebrations Office is E12.5 million – roughly 14 times the annual budget of SWANNEPHA.’

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Dibussi Tande blogs at Scribbles from the Den.
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


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