In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the political strife that has plagued Nigeria and the current state of the country as it prepares for the upcoming presidential election.
Nigeria’s National Council of State (NCS) met yesterday with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for hours to deliberate and consult the measures that need to be taken to ensure the safety of people intending to vote in the Nigerian presidential election Feb. 14.
It is rather ironic that such an important event should be held on Valentine’s Day, the national holiday that celebrates love.
As Nigeria, the African country with the biggest economy, prepares for the most important election since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999, and maybe since the civil war four decades ago, we should all do our best to raise awareness and show support to a country fraught with so much political strife. Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent, and the opposition leader, Muhammadu Buhari, are both competing to solve a litany of problem’s Nigeria faces.
Jonathan has run the country since 2010 and has faced much deserved political scrutiny. 18,000 people have died due to political violence in recent years. Many people were forced to abandon their homes. While he offered condolences to France after the attack on Charlie Hedbo, Jonathan has not been as quick to offer his apologies to his own country, particularly after a recent attack that some estimate killed thousands of his countrymen.
Unfortunately for Nigeria, the opposing candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, is a former military dictator, who three decades ago, came to power in a coup and expelled 700,000 migrants in hopes that might create jobs for Nigerians. He has been known for banning political meetings and the right to free speech.
Though Nigeria’s economy is strong, the number of Nigerians who are impoverished keeps increasing. Nigerians continue to die while not much action is taken. In a country where power has changed often through violence, we all need to do our part to spread awareness about the election that is coming up in Nigeria and engage in discussions to help all its citizens with their right to speak their minds and vote in a safe environment. The same values we as American’s treasure – democracy and the right to free speech, for example – should be available to all our friends worldwide. Let us not turn the other way on this important issue and instead do our part to draw attention to those fighting for basic civil rights and peace for their compatriots.
Early indications show most Nigerians support Muhammadu Buhari. We should all hope that the forthcoming election is conducted in a civil manner and that all are given the right to perform their basic civic duty in trying to make changes in the way their country is run.
Be good to each other,