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Nigeria's flawed 2007 elections and avoiding atragedy
By RUDOLF OGOO OKONKWO
EXCLUSIVE Commentary for USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.comand CLASSmagazine, IgboEventsand The Black BusinessJournal
April 17, 2007, New York: By most accounts and statements ofelection observers, Nigeria's elections of Saturday April 14th 2007,for the State Houses of Assembly and Governorships were incrediblyflawed. It was, in my view, unquestionably the worst election inNigeria since independence from Britain in 1960.
Essentially, thewhole democratic process deteriorated beyond any known Nigeria'sreference point. The system of representation as manifested at theelection failed to accord the people a supreme role, franchisevoters, provide equality of votes, and guarantee the right to standfor public office. All indexes of the electoral process worsenedduring last Saturday's election.
Nigerians not ready to be governed once again by those they didnot give the consent had began to protest and to call for newelections. To compound the tense political situation, the SupremeCourt in its ruling on Monday declared that the electoral body, theIndependentNational Electoral Commission (INEC), had no right todisqualify candidates. This alone raised serious question thevalidity of the election when many candidates were barred fromparticipating by INEC.
This decision has emboldened the opposition and there aretalks in opposition quarters to call for the cancellation of theelections already conducted and the postponement of the election toFederal posts slated for Saturday. The rational behind it was thatthe ruling party and its electoral commission had shown that it couldnot conduct a credible election.
To fill the vacuum that this would create, the senate presidentwould be asked to head an interim government until a new election isconducted. That way President Olusegun Obasanjo'sadministration will effectively be terminated on the previouslyscheduled date, May 29 th 2007.
This move seemed the most sensible that the opposition can take atthis point in time going by what happened on Saturday when localelections were massively rigged right in front of internationalobservers and media groups. With the ruling party, the People'sDemocratic Party, PDP, winning over 30 of the 36 governorship race,there is no way the opposition will suddenly make a dent in a federalelection conducted by the same electoral body, within one weekinterval, and under the worse political conditions than lastSaturdays.
One of the opposition candidates for next Saturday's election,Prof. Pat. Utomi of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, was rightin deciding to boycott Saturday's election if the charade of theprevious Saturday is not cancelled and the presidential racepostponed. He even suggested an adaptation of the Bangladesh's optionin Nigeria in which the ruling party should have nothing to do withthe conduct of elections.
Days after the Saturday' April 14 election, many parts of Nigeriaare already under curfew. Lives are being lost, propertiesbeing destroyed and opposition leaders are being arrested. If theinternational community does not rein in on President OlusegunObasanjo to abort the election in its entirety and transfer power toan interim government, there is a real danger that Nigeria willbecome ungovernable in days to come.
At this point when the oil market is jittery over events in Iran,Venezuela, and Iraq, adding a sustained uncertainty in Nigeria willshoot oil prices higher and could lead to global economicrecession.
In the past,the international community had preferred to make conservativepandering for democracy while willing to work with faulty politiciansand accept flawed elections in the name of maintaining tranquility.Again and again, it has been shown to achieve nothing but thepostponement of the day of reckoning.
Now is the time for Nigeria to get it right. The world must standbehind the long suffering Nigerian people and insist that theirpolitical elite must get it right. It has been said that if Nigeria,the most populous country in Africa, gets it right, the rest ofAfrica will begin to get it right. But if Nigeria is once againallowed to fail, the tragedy of Nigeria will inevitable be thetragedy of us all.
Rudolf Okonkwo isNew York-based columnist and special correspondent forUSAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine.He wrote exclusively for USAfricaonline.com,the insightful report: Anambra'srigged 2003 elections, and Chris Uba's confession at WIC2004 in Newark, USA
Many Nigerians still feel disappointed that a man (Obasanjo)who had gained so much from Nigeria would cling so tightly to power,even against the popular will of the people, moreso with age, energyand fresh ideas for a new era not on his side.
Also, USAfricaonline.com review of Nigeria's recent history show thatPresident Obasanjo seems to be moving rapidly into the zone ofill-repute of his former military colleagues who, like him, refusedto leave office when it was time to go. Gen. yakubu Gowon in 1975;Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 1993; Gen. Sani Abacha in1995, 1996, 1997,1998. More baffling many Nigerians we interviewed recall is thelessons of the excesses of the late Gen. Abach who jailed Obasanjowhile the former schemed to remain in power. For the specialreport by USAfrica multimedia networks' Publisher Chido Nwangwu,click on 3rdterm.
DEMOCRACYWATCH: What Bush Should TellObasanjo.... By ChidoNwangwu (Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com)
His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective ofthe true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing anddisposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures)this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce,juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of thevitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality ofChi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... itis a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude whiletaking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community.I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, therigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed inmost of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, becauseI share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a briefsentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here,folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle onthe Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one likeyou!
Ugo n'abo, chukwu gozie gi oo!. ChidoNwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), isFounder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com (first African-ownedU.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet),USAfrica The Newspaper,CLASS magazine and TheBlack Business Journal. He has served as an adviser to theMayor of Houston on international business (Africa) and appears as ananalyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC news affiliates.
This USAfricaonline.com commentary is copyrighted. Archivingon any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with aWritten Approval by USAfricaonline.comFounder.
CLASSis the social events, heritage excellence and style magazine forAfricans in north America, described by The New York Times as themagazine for affluent Africansin America. It is published byprofessional journalists and leading mulitmedia leaders andpioneers.
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Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. By Douglas Killam
Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu(First written on March 1, 2002, for USAfrica, updated for Prof. Achebe's 74th Birthday tribute on November 16, 2004, and published in CLASS magazine same month): Africa's most acclaimed and fluent writer of the English Language, the most translated writer of Black heritage in the world, broadcaster extraordinaire, social conscience of millions, cultural custodian and elevator, chronicler and essayist, goodwill ambassador and man of progressive rock-ribbed principles, the Eagle on the Iroko, Ugo n'abo Professor Chinua Achebe, has recently been selected by a distinguished jury of scholars and critics (from 13 countries of African life and literature) as the writer of the Best book (Things Fall Apart, 1958) written in the twentieth century regarding Africa. Reasonably, Achebe's message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He's our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing. Achebe's cultural contexts are, at once, pan-African, globalist and local; hence, his literary contextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igbo or Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall.
His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of the true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing and disposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures) this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce, juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of the vitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... it is a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude while taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community. I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle on the Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one like you!
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting
In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination, USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'
Powell named Secretary State by G.W. Bush; bipartisan commendations follow.
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."
These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
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CLASS is the social events, heritage excellence and style magazine for Africans in north America, described by The New York Times as the magazine for affluent Africans in America. It is published by professional journalists and leading mulitmedia leaders and pioneers.