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Russian Influence in West Africa

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By Cheta Nwanze

The hands-off approach of the US towards the African continent under the Trump administration, that has continued under Joe Biden and the continuation of failing European influence has afforded Russia the space to step up. Initially by strengthening regional military forces’ capacity to respond to the threat of Islamist groups across west and central Africa. What Russia stands to gain asides from conflict diamonds and mining rights, its increased influence and the numbers required for key votes in the United Nations General Assembly. The long term effect of this, though, is that democratic gains in West Africa, and indeed the whole of the African continent, could be pegged back as more countries look towards Russia for support.


While China’s spending power on the continent is unmatched, Russian re-entry builds on historic socio-political ties which date back to the Cold War era. During the Cold War the Soviet Union provided arms to revolutionaries in places like Angola and Congo seeking to overthrow colonial governments and their “puppet” successors. The Soviet Union’s interest in exporting its brand of Marxist-Leninism did not just stop at military and ideological support. It expanded that core into a more social enterprise drive model: offering scholarships to a whole generation of African scholars, academics, technocrats
and soldiers to be trained in Soviet institutions. The adoption of socialist economics in many an African state was a clear example of this influence. With the collapse of the Soviet Union these African
“socialist” states were starved of moral and ideological support as Russia retreated.


However, Russia has recently shown a renewed interest in Africa.2 A meeting co-hosted by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which was held in Sochi, Russia in October 2019, marked the very first Russia-Africa Summit. At that summit, Putin told a gathering of African leaders that Russia was “not going to participate in a new ‘repartition’ of the continent’s wealth; rather, we are ready to engage in competition for cooperation with Africa”. Renewed Russian interest in Africa has focused on two main areas of support: economic cooperation and military support.

Military Manoeuvres

The West is increasingly reluctant to sell arms to West African state actors based on concerns over how the weapons could be used to violate human rights. In 2020, the UK parliament asked Downing Street to investigate human rights abuses by the Nigerian government3 and security agencies against citizens.
Securing weapons has been a challenge for state security forces in Nigeria’s northeast and northwest, and in the Liptako-Gourma region4, which borders Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Multiple reports have documented terrorists, operating as militia in these regions, carting away weapons after successful attacks on military facilities. This raises further concerns that arms could end up in the hands of non-state actors, who are even less accountable for their actions. The government in Moscow is less concerned about human rights given its record against its own people, and its continued
support for Soviet-era relics like Aleksandr Lukashenko in Belarus.


As the second-largest weapons producer in the world, Russia is a major supplier of arms to Africa: according to the think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 13% of Russian arms are sold to African countries. The weaponry sold is predominantly secondhand equipment, such as combat helicopters, aircraft and surface-to-air missile systems. During the two-day summit in Sochi in 2019, the Nigerian government signed a contract6 with Russia for the supply of twelve Mi-35 Hind E attack helicopters, likely to be used in the fight against the jihadist movement, Boko Haram, in the northeast of the country. On 1 October 2021, Mali’s Interim Defence Minister Sadio Camara said that the country had acquired four helicopters, arms and ammunition from Russia in a contract agreed in December 20207 to support its armed forces in their battle with fighters linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.
The inability of the modern state to find lasting solutions to the crisis has seen the country experience
three coups, with the latest happening early this year when the transitional government of Bah Ndaw was deposed by Col Assimi Goita who led last year’s coup that ousted deeply unpopular President Ibrahim
Boubacar Keita.


Russian private military contractors have also latched on to the security needs of West African states bordering the Sahel where Islamist insecurity is prevalent. In September 2021, a security deal between the mercenary Wagner Group, which is rumoured to have ties to the Kremlin, and the Malian state was agreed according to a report by Reuters. Under the terms of the deal, a thousand personnel are to be deployed to guard regime officials and their families with the Wagner Group paid an estimated 6 billion CFA francs ($10.4 million8) a month for its services. One security source working in the region said the mercenaries would also train the Malian military and provide protection for senior officials. An arrangement that angered French officials given its long-standing military support to the country. But anti-French sentiments in the Sahel have been rising among citizens9 given the inability of French troops stationed in the area to stem violence attributed to the Islamists.

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THREATS TO STATE INTEGRITY AND SOCIAL COHESION IN NIGERIA

By Blog, Cohesion, Event, Fact Checks, General, Human Rights, News, Publication, RescueNo Comments

Nigeria is confronting a number of critical political and security challenges that are raising serious questions about its identity and survival as a democratic federal republic. First, there is a dramatic breakdown in security that has created a climate of disillusion in the state as a protector of citizens.

Threat to State Integrity

Secondly, there is a breakdown of social cohesion in Nigeria with stress lines emerging at the levels of the family, community and state.

Thirdly, there is a significant rise and expansion religious, fueled in part by disinformation and hate speech that circulates across traditional and social media. Fourthly, there is frustration about the country’s political and economic direction, with citizens believing the system is stymied by a reckless political class that is corrupt, self-serving and manipulative. Finally, Nigeria’s elite consensus on federalism and the federal character principle as a guarantee against group discrimination and marginalization is badly shaken.

INSECURITY IN NIGERIA

The state of insecurity in Nigeria has reached unprecedented levels. On a daily basis, well coordinated
commando-like operations by gunmen are organized against rural communities where people are kidnapped for ransom, houses burnt, and property looted. Similar attacks are also conducted against the army and
police. These attacks are now occurring in virtually all geopolitical zones in the country. According to Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state, there are no fewer than 30,000 gunmen spread across more than 100 camps in and around his state alone. These bandits collected N970 million as ransom from the families of their kidnap victims – over 1,100 – in the eight years between 2011 and 2019. During the same period, they killed 2,619 people.

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FACT CHECK: Did APC Not Engage In Vote Buying As Ekiti Governor-Elect Claimed?

By Blog, Constitution, Election, Fact Check, Fact Checks, Fake News, General, News, Publicaitons, PublicationsNo Comments

VERDICT: FALSE

Claim:
The Ekiti State Governor-elect, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, has claimed that the All Progressives Congress did not engage in vote buying during the June 18, 2022 governorship election which held in the state.
Oyebanji made the claim on Monday while briefing State House correspondents after he was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by some party big-wigs led by the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, following his victory in the Saturday poll.


He said that as far as he was concerned, his party did not buy votes, while adding that he did
not witness the development in the polling unit where he voted in Ikogosi, Ekiti West LGA.


The governor-elect said he won the election based on the performance of the outgoing
administration in which he played a prominent role.

Verification Process:

In a bid to ascertain the veracity of the claim, Daily Trust looked at several reports by independent and non-partisan Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media who observed the election.

While some of the reports revealed in details the parties involved in voter inducement along with their locations and amounts involved, some others generally agreed to the fact that there was vote-buying across party lines.

According to the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) who was on the ground to observe the election, its observers documented 41 instances of vote buying and selling at polling units in LGAs like Ado-Ekiti, Ijero, Ikole Irepodun/Ifelodun, Ise/Orun and Moba.

The statement noted that one of the observable patterns of vote buying was the collection of cash in brown envelopes, which was apparently meant to disguise the content of the envelopes in order to avoid arrest by the anti-corruption agencies.

Also, in a post-election statement issued by another independent observer group, Yiaga Africa, vote buying was reported by its observers in ​​Alowodolu/Ojo – The Apostolic P.S Compound with PU code 13/09/04/00 in Ijero Ward D of Ijero LGA.

“Party agents from APC were reportedly sharing N7,000 to voters who showed how their ballot paper was marked. A similar report on vote-buying by APC was received from Open Space At Bamitale Along St. Mary’s Road in Ikere.

“Also, in Ogidi – in Ipoti Ward A, party agents from PDP and SDP were seen bribing voters. At ​​C. A. C. Gramm. Sch. / Ola Oluwa II with PU code 014 in Ado-Ekiti, APC party agent was also reportedly giving N5,000 to voters who confirmed they had voted for the party,” it stated.

Conclusion

Based on evidence contained in reports groups that observed the governorship election, it is not true that the APC didn’t engage in vote buying as claimed by Oyebanji.

Chukwuma-Soludo

Did Soludo Say Peter Obi’s $20m Investment Is Now Worth $100m? Claim:

By Blog, Constitution, Election, Fact Check, Fact Checks, Featured, General, latest, NewsNo Comments

Claim:

A Facebook user, @Lamentations of a Bishop, on Sunday posted a story alleging that the current Anambra State governor Mr. Charles Soludo, said that Mr. Peter Obi’s $20 million investment in Anambra is worth $100 million today.

Verdict: FALSE

Verification: While verifying this, Daily Trust went through the verified Facebook and Twitter handles of the governor to see if he made such claims but nothing was found.

Further checks by Daily Trust revealed that the governor had gone to the comment section of the post to debunk the claim.

On his verified Facebook page, @Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the Anambra governor’s reply reads: “Where did you read or hear me make such comments. This Fake News has been roundly debunked by my team. We can always carry on with the campaign for our preferred candidates without consciously misleading the reading public. The report is false and never emanated from me,” he said.

Background

Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the forth coming presidential election.

Mr. Obi is regarded as one of the successful businessmen in Nigeria with franchise spread across the country.

He is also the former governor of Anambra state.

Conclusion: Following the rebuttal by the Anambra state governor, Daily Trust affirms the claim to be FALSE.

This Fact Check is done in collaboration with the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD)

Fact CHECK: Did Elon Musk say He Would Buy Nigeria, Facebook?

By Fact Check, GeneralNo Comments

There have been claims on social media suggesting that Elon Musk who recently bought Twitter for $44 billion is planning to buy Nigeria and fix its economy; then buy Facebook and consequently delete it.

In one tweet, the handle @elonmusk was quoted to have said, “Now, I am going buy Facebook and delete it.”

The richest man in the world reportedly tweeted the statement on April 25, 2022 at 9:35am and it had attracted over 136,000 retweets, 27,000 quote tweets, and 950,000 likes.

Musk had taken a major stake in Twitter earlier this month before lining up last week some $46.5 billion in financing to push forward with the purchase.

Twitter board chair Bret Taylor said the body “conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing.”

Also, in a screenshot tweet making the rounds, Musk was quoted as saying he “hopes to buy Nigeria as a country. Then fix her economy.”

Verification

Checks by Daily Trust showed that the tweets must have been done from a parody account as a quick search from the American billionaire’s Twitter account @elonmusk did not contain any tweets of such.

However, the only tweet relating to purchase of any platform or commodity by the Tesla owner was the one he tweeted in the early hours of Thursday when he wrote, “Next I am buying Coca-Cola to put the Cocaine back in.”

Musk had also on the same day replied to a similar screenshot that looks like the one in circulation with the caption: “Now I’m going to buy McDonald’s and fix all of the ice cream machines…” His reply said, “Listen, I can’t do miracles ok.”

Conclusion

The tweets that Elon Musk wanted to buy Nigeria fix her economy; then buy Facebook and delete it are false as they did not emanate from him. The screenshot tweet in circulation was photo-shopped.

This fact check was done in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).

FACT CHECK: Does Next Week have the Longest ‘Weekend’ as Claimed?

By Fact Check, GeneralNo Comments

A post circulating on Whatsapp claimed that next week would be the longest ‘weekend,’ starting from Friday, April 29 to Wednesday, May 4. 

The post stated that Sunday, May 1 is Workers’ Day, but implied that being a weekend, a public holiday would be observed on Monday, May 2.

It further declared May 3 (Tuesday) and 4 (Wednesday) as Sallah celebration holidays. This message has been shared on several WhatsApp groups.

Verifying the claim

First, declaration of national public holidays is exclusively done by the federal government. As of the time of filing this report, the government had yet to declare any of the dates in the viral message as public holidays.

However, going by past records, the federal government had declared working days as public holidays whenever the historic events being marked fell on weekends. Therefore, it is very likely the government will declare Monday a public holiday.

Sighting of a new moon marks the end of Ramadan which could be 29 or 30 if the moon (Shawwal) was not sighted after the break of 29th fast. Ramadan will be 29 on Saturday, April 30.

So, if a new moon is sighted Saturday evening, it means Eid-Fitr will hold on Sunday. In the event that a new moon was not sighted, Ramadan fasting would be 30 and Monday automatically becomes Eid-Fitr which attracts two days’ holidays.

While Monday and Tuesday will most likely be declared as public holidays, it is however not clear whether the federal government will declare Monday for both Workers’ Day and Eid-Fitr or earmarks Wednesday as the second day of Eid-Fitr holidays.

This fact check was done in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).

FACT CHECK: Did Tinubu Share Ghana Must-Go Bags Containing Cash to Delegates?

By Blog, Fact Check, GeneralNo Comments

A video showing people jubilating at the sight of huge ‘Ghana must-go’ bags has been circulating on social media with different captions, suggesting that the APC presidential flag bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, induced delegates with money to emerge winner of the presidential primary.

The video has been shared on Twitter, Facebook, and even on WhatsApp status, creating an impression that the Ghana must-go bags are filled with cash Tinubu purportedly shared to delegates to curry their votes during the convention.

“APC Delegate Bola Ahmed Tanibu (sic) is ready for you,” is engraved on the clip.

One Chigozie Alex, who shared the video wrote, “Wondering why Tinubu won with landslide? This video says it all. Even the SE (South East delegates) didn’t vote for their own people same way PDP SE delegates chose Atiku because of money. In 2023, we don’t have the money to match APC & PDP but we have people on our side & we will vote our conscience.”

Verification

Daily Trust’s checks showed that the video was recorded when a host shared souvenirs in Ghana must-go bags at an event in Lagos to appreciate those who attended the party.

The video first surfaced on the internet last year when some blogs shared the video, stating that the bags contained a toaster, cartons of noodles, bottles of beverage and detergents.

In the clip, a visibly excited woman was also heard saying, “this thing (pointing at the bag) is for one person at Ajibola’s party o,” and singing elatedly.

Commenting on the post, one AbdulAzeez raised the alarm, noting that the video was misleading.

He said, “I wonder why we just subject ourselves to be misled, maybe it’s because of the hatred we have for someone or people, we just believe anything that’s said about them even when we see fact to the contrary. The woman was saying it in the video that this is shared at a party. Still some people choose to believe otherwise.”

Another comment said, “This video is misleading. You can hear clearly what the woman said ‘this is for one person at Ajibola’s party’ This video has been trending for more than a year now.”

Conclusion

Daily Trust can confirm that the video in circulation does not involve Tinubu sharing money to the delegates as the poster claimed. It was a video made when ecstatic guests received huge bags containing souvenirs at a party in Lagos.

This fact check is done in collaboration with the Center for Democracy and Development.

NIGERIA THIS WEEK ENDING JULY 24, 2020

By Blog, GeneralNo Comments

According to the Nigerian Electricity System Operator on July 16, 2020, nine of the country’s 27 power plants were idle, leaving a total generation capacity of 2,079.1 megawatts stranded. The system operator put the nation’s installed generation capacity at 12,910.40MW; available capacity at 7,652.60MW; transmission wheeling capacity at 8,100MW; and the peak generation ever attained at 5,375MW.

Total power generation in the country stood at 3,269.6MW, up from 3,074.6MW on June 15. Only 58% of Nigerians have access to electricity and an estimated 80% of those with access use an alternative source of electricity supply due to reliability concerns.

The power sector lost an estimated N2.01 billion on July 14, 2020, due to constraints from the insufficient gas supply, distribution, and transmission infrastructure. The shutdown of the power plants was due to these factors including low load demand by the distribution companies and rupturing of the gas pipeline, among others. Due to the unstable power supply, companies in Nigeria are struggling to remain in operation.

The high cost of production, exacerbated by the high costs incurred from powering generators places a huge strain on production companies.

Electricity is a vital component of the industrialisation process and the constant power challenges in Nigeria have to be solved to aid socioeconomic development and hence industrialization.

READ NEWSLETTER HERE:

Situation Analysis For Togo

By Fact Checks, GeneralNo Comments

The Republic of Togo has a complex political history marked by harrowing democratic transitions. The Eyadéma political dynasty has led the country for more than fifty years. Gnassingbé Eyadéma assumed office in 1967 and was president until his death in 2005.

He led as the head of a military junta from 1967 to 1993, and following the National Conference of Togo he was the democratically elected leader from 1993-2005. The ascension to multi-party democracy was heralded by the National Sovereign Conference of 1991. The Togo National Conference was said to be precipitated by a similar National Conference held in the Benin Republic in 1990.  

Late President Gnassingbé Eyadéma won all three elections held in 1993, 1998, and 2003, though each election was described as flawed by observers. The 1993 election was boycotted by the opposition. The 1998 election was marred by fraud and serious irregularities. For instance, in a usurpation of the powers and duties of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), President Eyadema was proclaimed winner of the election by the Minister of Interior and Security rather than by CENI.

This action was based on the judgement of the Constitutional Court of July 1998, which held that the Minister could replace the CENI. The 1998 election was judged to be fraudulent and violent with some casualties recorded on the opposition side.

The political impasse arising from the 1998 Presidential Election led to the signing of the Accord-Cadre de Lomé́ (Lomé framework Agreement) by President Eyadema and his political party, the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) in July 1999 in Paris. The agreement, negotiated between the opposition political parties and international facilitators, agreed on the following:

  1. In accordance with Article 59 of the 1992 Constitution of Togo, President Eyadéma will vie for office as President in 2003
  2. The rights of political parties, media and others shall be guaranteed among many others.

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Fake News Website Developer – Call for Application

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The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is seeking applications for a website developer for Centre’s Countering Disinformation and Misinformation project (Fake News website).

The website developer will be involved in creating an internet-based platform to upscale the education and enlightenment of the general public on the need to fight the spread of disinformation referred to as “Fake News”.

The developer will also be involved in database programming which will aid in delivering a top-notch, high-quality content on a user-friendly platform to Nigerians and the public in general.

Are you interested? You can submit your resume and samples of your work to cddabv@cddwestafrica.org with the subject line – Fake News Website Developer.

The deadline for the submission of applications is July 10, 2020.

If you have further questions, please direct them to the email above.

WhatsApp and Everyday Life in West Africa – Call for Contributors

By Blog, General, latestNo Comments

We are looking for contributions for an edited book volume tentatively titled, ‘WhatsApp and Everyday Life in West Africa’. 

The edited volume aims to cover a range of topics from politics, misinformation and elections; to how WhatsApp is used for healthcare, by businesses and as a source of news; to how it can facilitate love, family connections (and disputes), spiritual/religious connections and support women’s empowerment. (Call for contributors CDD)

We are looking for pieces between 5,000 and 7,000 words in length for inclusion in the edited book volume. They can either be personal experiences or build on research already being done. The idea would be for the pieces to be rigorous and detailed without being academic or overly theoretical. This is a paid opportunity. (Call for Contributors CDD)

If you have an idea please submit a 250 word abstract and a piece of previously published writing to publications@cddwestafrica.org, with the subject line – WhatsApp in West Africa.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 30 June 2020.

We will aim to select the ten pieces we intend to commission in July.

If you have further questions please direct them to the email above

CORONAVIRUS IN NIGERIA: Viral stories, scams and false claims to ignore

By Blog, GeneralNo Comments

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to the shutdown of borders, city-wide lockdowns, restrictions on movement, and an infodemic. An infodemic is an oversaturation of information; it makes it more difficult to navigate online.

This difficulty lies in the fact that we can get tired of sifting through information, constantly trying to decide which is misinformation or disinformation, a condition known as information fatigue.

Fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) have engaged with this rising tide of health misinformation from the onset of the pandemic in Nigeria.

This is a short collection of the false narratives that have emerged over the past week, including our responses:

The Alleged Arrest of a Pastor

Disinformation narratives often leverage societal cleavages. Religion is particularly salient in the Nigerian context, and narratives have predictably sought to exploit religious sentiment. The most prominent story is that of the alleged arrest of Chris Oyakhilome, the founder of Christ Embassy Church.

This story builds on disinformation narratives around 5G that emerged earlier in the month. According to the report, the pastor was arrested for misleading the public on claims he made linking 5G and outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Prior to the report coming out, a controversial sermon by Pastor Chris was televised to millions online and shared widely on Facebook. It was during this sermon that he linked 5G to the Coronavirus. Shortly after, messages on WhatsApp groups started to pop up, with claims that he was arrested for misleading the public.

This story was false. Read our in-depth investigation here.

Chinese Doctors in Nigeria testing positive for COVID-19

Countries like Nigeria are being increasingly caught in the crossfire of the US-China information war.

Donald Trump is a trusted figure amongst many in Nigeria. His continued vituperation against China has contributed to a growing distrust of the Chinese.

tweet by Citizen of Nigeria (@FRNcitizen), whose account has been suspended by Twitter , made its way onto various WhatsApp groups with the headline, “BREAKING: one of the Chinese Doctors in Nigeria tested positive for Coronavirus. Smh”.

The NCDC officially denounced the story and urged all Nigerians to take responsibility during the pandemic. Read our fact-check here where we debunk the story.

Former President Obasanjo giving N5,000 to all Nigerians

In line with the trend of stories that exploit the poor economic conditions of many Nigerians, a claim that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo has personally decided to send N5,000 directly to every Nigerians’ account using their BVN went viral. 

At the time the story was fact-checked, the post had gained over 50,000 views on the website, ‘Legitfund.ng’, which is a copy of the ‘Legit.ng’ website.

In a similar vein, there has been an uptick in scams involving members of the public being asked to provide their bank details to facilitate their receiving funds.

This claim was found to be false. You can read our in-depth investigation here.

Buhari appointing a new Chief of Staff

In the early hours of Saturday, April 18, 2020, Nigerians received the news that Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the president, had died.

News of this tragic event sent the misinformation engine into overdrive. Barely a day into his death, an online newspaper, National Daily Newspaper, reported on both her website and Facebook page that President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Ambassador Babagana Kingibe as his new Chief of Staff.

CDD fact-checkers found that the story is unconfirmed, and has no basis.

Sheikh Gumi Advising Buhari to Appoint Former Emir Sanusi as Chief of Staff

Other false claims around the now vacant position of Chief of Staff have also implicated the popular former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

A viral story which spread on various WhatsApp groups in the northern part of Nigeria claimed that the renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dr Ahmad Mahmoud Gumi, had suggested the appointment of a former Emir of Kano as the new Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Muhammadu Buhari. 

When CDD fact-checkers reached out to the cleric he said he was surprised about the claim and that he had never made such a suggestion to the President.

Thus, this too was a false story. You can read our in-depth investigation here.

CONCLUSION

As Nigeria continues to face the multi-pronged attacks of a global pandemic, crashing oil prices, a weak economy and public infrastructure, disinformation will continue to be a threat, especially because citizens do not feel like they can trust the leadership.

With the almost insatiable hunger for news, people turn towards sensationalist blogs, popular social media influencers and the like.

While Nigerian leaders have done little to inspire trust, it is even more dangerous to fall for narratives of deceit. There is a need to build a synergistic system of information sharing that is inclusive of citizens and addresses the fears and worries of the people.

CDD will continue working to provide a clear and accurate assessment of the information ecosystem. 

Corruption and Democracy in Africa: Conjoined Histories (Call for Contributions)

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Call for Contributions to a Thematic Issue of Democracy and Development: Journal of West African Affairs
Why has corruption, understood as the diversion of public goods towards strictly parochial ends, persisted, and by certain measures even worsened, across transitioning African countries? Why has the coming of democracy not eventuated in the kind of drastic reduction in corruption that many had hoped for on the eve of transition from military rule? Why have the institutions put in place in various (West) African countries in order to combat corruption invariably succumbed to the perverse pull of corrupt practices? Does corruption undermine democracy, or is corruption the water in which democracies must perforce swim? What do some scholars mean when they say that corruption in Africa is ‘cultural’, and what are the ways in which we can understand the by no means stable conjoining of culture and corruption? What new perspectives can research on corruption add to the sociological, anthropological, economic, historical, and political science literatures on civil society, the state, public finance, governance, and policy making in Africa?
To commemorate its reappearance following a brief hiatus, Democracy and Development: Journal of West African Affairs, invites contributions that speak to different combinations of these and ancillary research and policy questions for its June 2020 edition. Apart from scholars who work at the interfaces of these questions, the journal also welcomes contributions from civil society activists who take an active interest in research, policy makers, and journalists, particularly those who have served on the frontline of the intermittently ugly battle to eliminate corruption from public life in Africa.
Democracy and Development is a peer-reviewed journal. Articles/essays submitted for publication must not exceed 5,000 words. The ideal essay is simple, yet sophisticated and lucid, far reaching yet synoptic, shorn of academic jargonizing, and definitely free of the usual scholarly accompaniment of footnotes. The deadline for submission of articles for the June 2020 edition is March 30, 2020. Submissions and queries should be addressed to: editor@cddwestafrica.org
Published bi-annually, Democracy and Development focuses on the following interrelated themes:
1. Conceptualizing democracy and development in West Africa;
2. Practical problems that have inhibited democratic reform in the region;
3. Civic organisations and the new and innovative programmes, activities, and personalities driving the democracy and development agenda in the region;
4. Conflict and peace-building; and 5. Public policy research (empirical and theoretical) on the democracy, security, and development nexus.
Democracy & Development: Journal of West African Affairs is the only one of its kind entirely devoted to reporting and explaining democratic developments in the sub-region. It is read avidly by researchers, journalists, opinion moulders, and policy makers.
Democracy and Development: Journal of West African Affairs is a publication of Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) West Africa, 16, A7 Street, Mount Pleasant Estate (CITEC), Jabi Airport Road, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria.

Promoting Peace, Justice and Reconciliation in North East, Nigeria during Ramadan.

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As part of her effort towards fostering peace, reconciliation and reintegration in Borno State. The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) organised a radio program in the auspicious month of Ramadan 2019. This is the second edition of the Ramadan radio program with the first edition held in 2018.   The Ramadan Radio programme was organised in partnership with Peace Fm, Maiduguri. The Peace FM have reach not just in Borno state but parts of Adamawa, Bauchi, Taraba, Jigawa and Gombe State and parts of the Lake Chad basin.

The one-hour Radio programme aired live in Kanuri language at 2-3pm daily. Some of the topics discussed include Justice, forgiveness, reconciliation, Unity, Understanding, Peace and Harmony, the role of relevant stakeholders such as religious and traditional institution, Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), Lawyers, Government, youth women and others in promoting peaceful coexistence in Borno and North Eastern part of this Country Nigeria.

A total of 185 callers/contributors joined via telephone during the program to speak to issues and proffer solutions on how to successfully end the insurgency and foster sustainable peace. While appreciating the initiative, some of the crucial issues raised during the radio program include:

a. The reemergence of Boko Haram insurgency as the Internally Displaced are trying to return to their original homes;

b. the need for government, Not for Profit and relevant agencies to continuously improve their efforts in providing relief to bring succour to the victims of insurgency in Northeast Nigeria;

c. the importance of inter-religious dialogues;

d. the need for resilience building;

e. that there should be an established interfaith, intergenerational dialogue as a platform to facilitate peaceful coexistence

Listeners opine the time for the radio program to be increased from the one hour so people can further engage as the anonymity afforded by the platform grants listeners the opportunity to ask nagging questions. Which they may otherwise be shy to ask in real life.  Callers while acknowledging the timeliness of the radio program opined it should be extended as a strategy for the demobilisation of combatants. Callers are however of the opinion that instead of utilising just Kanuri, the program also runs in the Hausa language to address the urban and rural dwellers dichotomy.

CALL FOR PAPER- Democracy in Two Decades, 1999-2019: Reflections on Nation Building and Development in Nigeria

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The Department of History, University of Ibadan & The Centre for Democracy and Development, Cordially invite Contributors for the Book Project On;Democracy in Two Decades, 1999-2019: Reflections on Nation Building and Development in Nigeria”

Call for papers
After a long struggle spanning more than a decade against military dictatorship, Nigeria returned to democratic rule in May, 1999. Nigeria’s democracy has not only evolved but matured in two decades despite its many challenges. Accounts of what has changed between 1999 and 2019 are crucial to understand how democracy is driving the process of nation-building and business of development in Africa’s most powerful nation. Democracy remains one of the major political systems of governance and promotes nation-building in terms of active participation of citizenry.
The spate of transition to multi-party democracy in Nigeria since 1999 has transformed elections. As a nascent democracy, the country and its people have had to struggle with the real tenets of democracy. However, the history of competitive multi-party elections in Nigeria over the years indicates a process often marred by pre- and post-electoral crises which arise from electoral manipulations or lack of confidence in the electoral process.
The return to democracy was received with genuine enthusiasm among the masses who perceived the moment would usher in rule of law, social justice, equality and development. That aspiration has been dashed due to economic crisis, insecurity and social tension. The hope for fundamental political and economic change waned. Is the colonial past of despotic governance under the indirect rule system and ‘representative chieftaincies’ hunting contemporary democratic practice? To what extent did the long years of military rule influence current democratic conducts and misconducts? Is Nigeria a good example of federal democratic state or unitary democratic state? How do we assess civic culture and viability of democratic institutions?              In what ways are the various arms of government strengthening or undermining democratic values and principles.  Scholarly papers are welcome to discuss Nigeria’s democratic process since 1999 and how it has shaped the process of nation building and development.
Sub-themes

  1. Electoral reforms
  2. Governance and accountability
  3. Militarism, Insurgency, Irredentism  and brigandage in a democracy
  4. Democracy and freedom of speech
  5. Corruption and anti-corruption in a democracy
  6. Party politics
  7. God Fatherism and politics
  8. Democracy and social movements
  9. Democracy and civil society
  10. Democracy and nation-building
  11. Democracy and development
  12. Women in power and politics
  13. Democracy and the judiciary
  14. Democracy and the executive
  15. Democracy and the legislature
  16. Democracy and the military
  17. Case studies of dividends of democracy
  18. Changing nature of Intergroup relations in a democracy
  19. Democracy and peace-building
  20. Democracy and the youth
  21. Democracy and human security

And many more.
 
Authors are encouraged to generate empirical data for the analysis in their chapters. The chapters, which should not exceed 10,000 words are to be written in conformity to high academic standard using the conventional APA reference style, Times New Roman, 12point font, double spaced and justified.
Each chapter contribution is expected to adhere to the following guidelines: Abstract,  Introduction, Brief Literature Review and Theoretical Framework/Perspective, Main Body of the Chapter, Implications of the thematic focus on democracy, nation-building and development, Recommendations, Conclusion, References and Appendices (where applicable).
 
Chapter contributions should be sent to the editors on or before 15 August, 2019.
 
Editors:
Dr. R. O. Olaniyi                                 
Department of History, University of Ibadan.
Email: rasolaniyi@gmail.com
Idayat Hassan
Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja
Email: media@cddwestafrica.org
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The Emancipation of Women and the Humanization of the Male.Tripod of Activism Tajudeen, Winnie Mandela and Momoh

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The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in collaboration with CISLAC, WRAPA , CITAD  and Center LSD organised the tripod of activism memorial lecture  held  in commemoration of three Pan-Africans  Tajudeen, Winnie  Mandela And Prof And Momoh  who had in their life time engaged in the liberation and emancipation of African movement.
The moderator, Mrs Saudatu recalled that Tajudeen admonished us all “not to agonize but organize! She emphasized that Tajudeen’s dream was for equal opportunity through education for all youth, who will continue to challenge the status quo seeking for the good of all. Concerning Winnie Mandela, her resilient spirit provided inspirations and contributions to the process of dislodging apartheid, patriarchy and gender discrimination in private and public lives. She also admonished family and friends of these deceased to remain resolute in keeping the embers of their struggles burning and remain committed to living their dream for their country and continent.
Professor Horace G. Campbell, Kwame Nkrumah Chair Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana emphasized the need for a new orientation on liberation to conceptualize the values of ubuntu as the basis for Africa liberation. The concept incorporates values of sharing, cooperation and spiritual health. Ubuntu, emancipatory politics and reparations are the key concepts for liberation. “The concrete understanding of the cultural unity of Africa and the contributions of the African peoples towards human transformation are being refined every day through day to day struggles”, he said. Cheik Anta Diop who has studied the linguistic basis of African Unity emphasized the importance of African languages in the push for continental unity. African Liberation will be meaningless if it is not rooted in African languages and in the genius of the African woman. The aspirations of Diop, which were outlined in his book on the Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State, form the core of the African Union of tomorrow.
In conclusion, Prof. Campbell charged Africans youth and women to read wide on African stories that will educate and inspire them.

SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Successes, Payment Hitches, Insufficient Cooks, Others Slow Buhari’s School Feeding Programme

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The excitement at Eva Valley Primary School 1, Enugu, on a recent Thursday morning was palpable. The pupils could not wait for the food vendor, Agochidima John, to serve the food herself. While she prepared to serve the meal, which happened to be okpa (a staple delicacy widely eaten in the South-east), the older pupils helped in washing the watermelon, which would accompany the meal for the day.
The pupils, numbering 159, had become used to the daily meals served by medically-screened cooks since February 8, 2017 under the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme of the federal government. Mrs John is one of thousands of cooks hired by the government across 24 states where the programme is in operation.
Expectedly, the thrill of a free meal at Eva Valley School resonates with over 7.6 million Nigerian children in public primary schools currently benefiting from the programme, a key policy of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The inspiration is stimulating enrollments in schools in the various states, highlighting one of its objectives of providing quality education for Nigerian children.
Varying levels of successes have been recorded by the programme in the last two years, following the continued improvements in its implementation.
However, a PREMIUM TIMES and Buharimeter investigation across three states – Enugu, Oyo and Niger States – shows administrative bottlenecks relating to processing of payments to vendors and suppliers, and paucity of funds, remain a thorny issue in the programme. This in turn has slowed down its penetration even in states where it is ongoing.
Also, in the three states examined, none of them has been able to cover all public primary schools and the process of including the about 30 per cent awaiting inclusion is slow.

No Pay, No Food

The cooks do not show up at the schools when their payments are delayed. Delays in crediting the accounts of the vendors sometimes result in some schools going on for a week or two without the pupils getting the one meal per day being provided by the government. The vendors say there is nothing they could do as they rely on the funds to purchase food items.
Investigations also revealed some essential components of the menu, such as eggs, beef, chicken, fish and bread, in some of the schools, do not come in their specified sizes and weights.
Vendors complain the products do not always come regularly and when they do, they are small and insignificant.
Eva Valley School pupils helping to wash a melon fruit
Some states are still grappling with the issue of engaging aggregators who would ensure food items are supplied in cheap and affordable prices.

The School Feeding Programme

The initiative to provide a meal a day for each primary school child was part of the promises of the Buhari/Osinbajo campaign in 2015. Although there was an initial dallying over its implementation, the APC government managed to kick start the programme in a few states later in 2016. More states joined the programme in 2017.
While it is meant to be a counterpart arrangement between the states and the federal government, with the latter providing meals for pupils in primary 1-3, most of the states are still unable to include the other classes in the programme.
The initiative was projected to provide 1.14 million jobs across the country, with the engagement of community women as cooks; boost food production and stimulate an investment worth N980 million annually.
The federal government claims that about 7.6 million children are being fed daily in about 40,000 public primary schools in the states where the programme has taken off. The programme currently covers only pupils in primary one to primary three classes, leaving out classes four to six, as well as the two classes in the nursery; mainly due to the states failing in their own parts of the task.
Its objectives is to reduce hunger and improve the nutritional status of primary school pupils; increase retention and completion rate of primary school pupils; increase pupil enrollment in primary schools and boost production of home-grown foods by encouraging small-scale farming.

ENUGU: THE CHALLENGES

Despite keying into the programme since 2017, only 60 per cent of the about 1,240 public primary schools in the state are currently covered by the programme, with about 109,000 school children as beneficiaries.
According to the programme manager for the state, Ifeayin Onah, the benefiting schools are serviced by 1,614 cooks. Mr Onah told PREMIUM TIMES the rate of coverage would have been close to 100 per cent but for the problems involved in processing Biometric Verification Numbers of the cooks, with hitches occurring to hinder deployments.
“Presently, we have about 1,614 cooks feeding the children. That is not to say that the number is enough. What happened was that the remaining cooks we recruited had issues with their BVN documents and other bank details,” he explained.

Delayed payment to vendors

The second term of the current academic session in Enugu State began on April 16. But feeding of pupils began on April 17, which was the day after resumption and continued until April 29. The cooks did not show up on April 30, just two weeks after resumption, and feeding did not resume until May 8. This has been a trend in the programme implementation in the state.
This occurred at Ekulu Primary Schools 1,2,3 and 4, as well as Market Road Primary School. It was the same story at Eva Valley Primary Schools 1 and 2.
At Ekulu Primary School 1, Head Mistress, Jackinta Ekeowa, keeps a log of the feeding activity of the vendors. “When they cook, we log, and when they don’t cook, we also log,” she told PREMIUM TIMES reporter.

Mrs John, serving 79 pupils at Eva Valley School 1, said there was no cooking for a number of days because payments were delayed. Her colleague, S. Okoro, said, “We did not cook because last week money was not paid, but we have resumed cooking now that money has been paid.”
Mr Onah confirmed that there were administrative bottlenecks in releasing funds by the federal government.
“Unfortunately, there are some hitches here and there and in some cases, after feeding for two weeks, you normally have like two or three days gap before the next payment will come,” said Mr Onah.
“The children and the head teachers do not know these things, once they don’t see the payments they begin to cry out as if the funds were diverted.
“It is not something the presidency begins and concludes within itself. It will go through the Ministry of Finance, Accountant-General and Nigeria Interbank systems. They need to start the process on time.”
The good news is that the payments now come in monthly, but Mr Onah believes that unless the administrators at the centre ensure that payments are made a day or two before the expiration of the previous payments, there will continue to be problems.

Nursery Classes Excluded

The cries of nursery classes’ children at meal time have become regular at Eva Valley Primary schools, desiring to be part of feeding. Moved by the cries, the teachers devised a means such that the little kids could be part of the break time.
Agu Fidelia, the Head Teacher, Eva Valley Primary School 2, lamented the burden of managing the nursery classes when the other classes were feeding. She said the vendors had to carve out something for them in order to avoid further agitation from the kids.

Mr Onah agreed that this was a serious problem. “It is an issue feeding primaries 1-3 and leaving the nursery classes behind,” he said.
“Every day when the cooks get to the schools to feed the children, there is this regular challenge of how you will control the cries of the children in the nursery classes. But unfortunately, federal government said it is from primary 1-3.”
He added that states were not financial prepared to begin to provide meals for other classes given the huge financial commitment required to run it.

Vendors demand more money

With N70 as the value of the meal per child per day, the vendors and other stakeholders are insisting it is not be enough for the quantity and the quality of meal expected of them. They are asking for, at least, N150 per child.

Enrollment

Officials insist there is increased school enrollment, even though there are no clear statistics to ascertain the rate of new registration in the schools.
“We are recording high attendance in the rural areas, where children otherwise do not go to school during the raining season,” said Mr Onah, who is also the Secretary of the Steering Committee on the School Feeding Programme in Enugu State.
However, Mrs Agu, of the Eva Valley Primary School 2, told PREMIUM TIMES there are other factors such as qualified teachers and free education, affecting enrollment in the public primary schools.
Also, getting the aggregators in place to get the food is still a major challenge in the state. Vendors get the money and proceed to buy in the open market. Mr Onah says the vendors and those involved need to be sensitised on the need to belong to cooperatives to create synergy and harness opportunities of cheap foodstuff.

THE OYO EXPERIENCE

The programme effectively started in Oyo State in January 2017. It began with a total of 107, 983 pupils in primary 1-3 being fed by 1,372 vendors across 1,277 primary schools. Presently, the figure has drastically increased to 235,747 pupils, 2,363 vendors across 2,223 primary schools in the state.
Officials confirmed that about N1.5 billion has so far been received from the federal government for the implementation of the programme in the state.

Despite the successes recorded, about 200 schools are still left out of the programme. The Commissioner for Education in the state, Adeniyi Olowofela, said the coverage was about 80 per cent.
He said at the initial stage, most of the vendors had problems with their Biometric Verification Number (BVN) which created hitches in getting the required number of vendors.

Enrollment

Getting actual figures on increased enrollments was difficult. Officials said they would not have the figures readily until after a proper census was concluded. They, however, asserted that there was an obvious increase in the number pupils being registered especially in the benefitting classes.
The head teacher, Ebenezer Primary School, Ekotedo, Ibadan, Mankinde E., reported that there had been an increase in the number of pupils from 110 when it started to 162 presently. Mrs Makinde added that the school feeding programme had also helped in keeping some truants in classes, who hitherto did not stay in school.
The education commissioner admitted that although the school feeding is largely responsible for the new high in enrollment, other factors such as renovation of schools, reshuffling and redeployment of teaching staff and the injection of funds up to N2 billion by the state government had also drawn parents to enroll their wards in public primary schools in the state.

No Money, No Cooking

As observed in Enugu State, delayed payments to vendors occur in Oyo, leading to interruption in the feeding programme. While some of the cooks would not want to speak on the issue, one of the head teachers who would not want to be named said the cooks did not come to feed the children in the first week of resumption, and when asked, they told her they were not paid. The term was at its third week when our correspondent visited the school.
“Last year there was a problem of feeding for two weeks, and no cooking for another week; whenever we see them, we will say thank God, you have seen alert,” she said.

But the officials explained that such problems emanated from either errors in the documentation of the vendors or some administrative hitches, arguing the problem was only prevalent at the start of the programme.

Insufficient Supply

At the United Native African Primary School (UNA), there was issue of poor supply of essential items for the meal, such as eggs, bread and meat. The vendors told PREMIUM TIMES that all was well and that they had no problems. But on further probing, they admitted there were times when the supplies were not enough. At such times, the vendors resorted to splitting an egg between two pupils so it could go round. The bread and the meat are also said to be so small, that there are doubts if the meals would really be a balanced diet.
The Oyo State School Feeding Programme Manager, Folasade Adekunle, admitted there were reports of “delayed supply” of eggs, but the suppliers had always been made to “supply double” while making subsequent supplies to make up for the misses. She said the cases were rare and all the vendors needed to do was to make reports so the problem could be rectified.
On the size of the meat, she said the cost of the meat is N20, and “you can imagine what N20 worth of meat would look like.”

Nursery Classes

All the head teachers in the schools visited lamented the exclusion of the nursery classes, and appealed for their inclusion in the feeding programme.
Adebiyi G.O. is the Head Teacher for the UNA Primary School, at Ekotedo. She complained of the stress she goes through daily in calming the nursery pupils who are eager to be part of the feeding.
Mr Olowofela said the current programme did not capture the nursery classes, but as the programme improves, they might be considered. According to him, incorporating other classes would take some more budgetary planning and financial reorganisation.
It was gathered that a good number of the vendors initially hired, pulled out of the exercise when they learnt they would only get to feed a child with a paltry N70. Mrs Adekunle said although it was a major challenge, the problem had been taken care of with much enlightenment. She also said as some vendors changed location, and because it was difficult to find a place for them in their new location, they had to exit the programme.

THE NIGER ‘SUCCESS’

The Niger State school feeding programme incorporates all the primary categories of pupils, including the nursery classes. The state has about 4,529 cooks, cooking and serving 560, 439 pupils and the government is paying N70 per day for each child.
About N392.3 million has been received so far from the federal government for the programme, including the cooks’ allowances.
At the commencement of the exercise in October 2017, there were problems of the food quality and packaging. Pupils were said to have received their meals in cellophane as there were no provision for bowls or plates. The scheme was later suspended following outcry from major stakeholders over being shortchanged in the allocation of funds by the state office.
Top managers of the programme were later removed by the presidency over allegations of fraud and mismanagement of the programme in the state. A new management is since in place and the programme restarted, coordinated by the state’s Ministry of Education.
Head of the cooks at the Limawa Primary School, Chenchega Local Government Area, Fatima Adamu Baba, who leads other 29 cooks, said the failure at the beginning was a test which helped the cooks and the operators to make a number of adjustments. She said now the feeding was going on smoothly.
“On Monday we cook jollof rice, meat and chicken; Tuesday we cook yam and egg; Wednesday we cook rice and beans, Thursday we cook beans with bread and Friday we give them bread, stew and meat,” she explains.
“We also do not have any problems in the payments. We get our pay every two weeks.”

Modus Operandi

In the Niger State programme, all the food items are purchased and supplied to the vendors. Their role is to just cook and serve the meals. The cooks say they are paid “salaries.” Others call it allowances. Those feeding 100 pupils, get N8,000 and those with 120 pupils get N10,000 per month.
The coordinator of the programme and Commissioner for Education, Amina Musa, who confirmed the development, explained the reasons for the mode of operation.
“Our own modus operandi is totally different. We use aggregators in our own case. Money is paid into the aggregators’ accounts and then when they pay them, we have what we call suppliers,” she said.
“We cannot use vendors; why we cannot use vendors is to checkmate inflation. We have almost 5,000 cooks. If you give them money to go to the market, when they come back tomorrow, you won’t have food for the children.”
She further explained that the state’s mode of operation makes the supplies affordable and ensure the cost of providing the meals was stable.

Complaints and Improvements

After an initial reluctance to speak on the problems they face, some of the vendors complained of inadequate supply of yams.
At the Limawa school, Alima Abubakar, a cook, said the yams should either be increased or removed completely. Some of the cooks also complained that the money paid as allowances was too small to cover their labour and transportation.
However, the cooks at the Umar Farouk Primary School, Minna, said they were getting enough cooking materials so that they could feed the children enough.
The coordinator however denounced the complaints. “They are not supposed to incur any transportation cost because they are not supposed to be located far from the schools,” said Mrs Musa.
PREMIUM TIMES encountered a National Verification Officer for Chenchega LGA, Ahmed Ibn Mohammed, who said the complaints of the cooks and the challenges observed in the implementation of the programme had been noted and would be forwarded to the presidency for action.
It was also difficult to get actual status of enrollment since the beginning of the programme in the state. But Mrs Musa said enrollment had doubled since the start of the feeding exercise.
“Everybody is happy and the children are happy with the programme,” she added. “Already registration has ended, but pupils came for registration and we enrolled them,” Hajara Zaramai, Head Mistress at the Dr Umar Farouk Primary School at Keteren Gwari Road, Minna, said.
“You know the economic situation right now is tough and so many parents are relieved in bringing their children to schools.
The Niger State School Feeding programme, like in other states, is yet to reach all the intended beneficiaries as some schools are still being left out. At the time PREMIUM TIMES visited the state in the second week of May, the state had covered 70 per cent of public primary schools.
Mrs Musa confirmed that the nomadic schools which were established for the children of the Fulani herders had also not been covered in the exercise. The government said it will make provisions for them in the next phase of the deployment of cooks.

Reactions

Generally, teachers and pupils have shown excitement about the programme. Some of the pupils who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES saw the feeding as an innovation that should be sustained.
For them, half loaf is better than none. If it improves, it will be fine, if it remains what it is, they will be grateful. The vendors are happy that they have been employed, even though they are asking for more money.

Given that the programme is centrally coordinated from Office of the Vice President, PREMIUM TIMES sought the responses of the presidency on a number of observations made during this investigation.
But at the time of concluding this report, no response was given to the enquiries. The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, asked the reporter to send the questions by email. For days, Mr Akande refused to reply to the questions.
A reminder through a text message drew a reply urging our reporter to await the response as he was working on it. However, subsequent phone calls and text messages on May 27 and 28 did not get any response. About two weeks later, the spokesperson was yet to respond.
This article is a product of a partnership between PREMIUM TIMES and #Buharimeter to fact-check the viability or otherwise of the federal government’s School Feeding Programme
#Buharimeter is an initiative of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Department for International Department (DFID).

Nigeria’s 2019 elections: The preparations, people and prospects by Idayat Hassan

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With less than a year to go, how are preparations going? Who is running? What will be the key issues?
It is now less than a year before Nigeria’s critical general elections. In those polls, currently scheduled for 16 February and 2 March 2019, tens of millions of citizens will vote in what could be some of the country’s most fiercely fought contests yet.
How are preparations going? Who is running? What will be the key issues?
Preparations for the elections
Since Mahmood Yakubu took over as chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2015, the body has carried out over 167 elections. One was nullified in court. INEC has also undertaken several institutional reforms. This includes launching a new strategic plan, working on a youth engagement strategy, and reviewing its gender policy. It has promoted deserving staff and, in an unprecedented move, prosecuted officials found to have committed wrongdoing in the 2015 elections.
Ahead of 2019, the commission has set up a committee to review the voting process and transmission of tallies. For the first time since the return to democracy in 1999, INEC is also conducting continuous voter registration.
Despite these giant strides, however, the body is facing some challenges.
Because of delays caused by a dispute between the president and Senate, for example, INEC still only has 30 out of 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners, the key officials responsible for organising elections at the state level. Continuous voter registration, which opened in 2016, has also experienced glitches, with some citizens complaining of being unable to register. This led INEC to recently deploy additional registration machines and increase the number of registration centres to 1,446 nationwide. Meanwhile, the cost of running the elections may also present a challenge. This is especially the case given that Nigeria has just exited a recession.
The commission has also been given additional headaches following last month’s local elections in Kano State. In the aftermath of that poll, a video emerged showing young children thumb-printing ballot papers. INEC did not oversee that election, but some claimed it had been responsible for registering the underage voters in the first place.
In response to this criticism, the commission set up a panel to probe the alleged underage voting and examine the nearly 5 million voters on the register in Kano. INEC has previously helped other countries in West Africa clean up their electoral registers, most recently ahead of Liberia’s run-off polls in December 2017.
Who is running?
In the 2015 elections, Nigeria had 40 registered political parties. Ahead of 2019, there are now 68, with 33 more being considered for registration.
The ones to beat this time around will be the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). This party was created ahead of 2015 through a merger of what were then the country’s four biggest opposition parties. Its growing ranks were further boosted when several figures from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in power at the time, crossed the floor.
In the election, the APC enjoyed an historic victory and ended the PDP’s political dominance, which had lasted since 1999. But since those heights, internal rivalries have come to the fore and prevented it from emerging as a cohesive force. The APC continues to run as an amalgam of the interests that created it in the first instance, with intra-party disputes emerging at both federal and state levels.
The incumbent President Buhari is the front runner to be the party’s flagbearer in 2019. However, aside from his mixed record in office, his advanced age of 75 and ill health could arise as an issue. Many are asking whether he will be fit to govern if re-elected, especially given that he spent several months of his first term receiving treatment in London for an undisclosed ailment.
The main opposition PDP has faced similar infighting to the APC since 2015. After the election, the party faced a bitter legal battle over the leadership of the party with Ahmed Makarfi eventually confirmed as the party chair. Since then, the PDP has held a national convention in which new officials were elected. Some regions were marginalised, however, and the party has yet to calm concerns about the state of its internal democracy or shed its reputation for corruption, which it developed over its 16 years in office.
Several candidates are lining up to bid to be the PDP’s presidential nominee. They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who recently crossed over from the APC. Often described as a serial defector, Atiku has commenced consultations and is regularly voicing his opinions on policy matters. At 71, his age and unproven corruption allegations remains the albatross around his neck. Other aspirants from the PDP include controversial governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and former governors of Kaduna and Jigawa, Ahmed Makarfi and Sule Lamido respectively.
Along with these two big parties, Nigeria could, for the first time, also see a powerful third party emerge in 2019. The most popular phrase in the country today is “Third Force” and various groupings are attempting to harness the appetite for an alternative to the APC and PDP.
30 opposition parties have joined forces under the banner of the Coalition for a New Nigeria (CNN). Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has helped set up the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM). And groups such as the Nigerian Intervention MovementRevive Nigeria and Emerging Leaders’ Summit are also trying to jostle for position. Regarding the presidency, the likes of motivational speaker Fela Durotoye, former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Kingsley Moghalu, and founder of the online whistleblowing site Sahara Reporter Omoyele Sowore have all expressed their intention to challenge the main parties’ candidates.
At the same time, citizen-led groups are also making their voices heard. The Red Card Movement, led by former minister and #BringBackOurGirls campaigner Oby Ezekwesili, is calling for the APC and PDP to be “sent off”. Meanwhile, the Not Too Young To Run movement is demanding the inclusion of young people in the political space.
Unfortunately, there is less momentum behind efforts seeking to enhance the participation of women in politics. Less than 6% of Nigeria’s lawmakers are female, one of the lowest proportion in Africa, and while more marginal parties may make space for women and youth to lure voters, the same is likely to be less true of the big parties.
The issues that will determine the 2019 Nigeria elections
Insecurity
One of the biggest issues that will determine the 2019 general elections is insecurity, which is affecting communities across the country. Ongoing instability could affect the vote itself and will certainly be a big issue on the campaign trail.
On Boko Haram in the North East, the APC will claim to have successfully tackled the insurgency. The PDP and other opposition parties will argue against this and likely emphasise the dire humanitarian situation. The candidates may try to woo internally-displaced persons as the election nears.
Another matter will be the conflict between herders and farmers, which has arguably become Nigeria’s most pressing internal security threat. As hundreds have died in clashes over land disputes in a dozen states, the Buhari administration has been criticised for its poor handling of the issue. The conflict – and lack of accountability for heinous crimes – predates the APC’s rule, but its severity and death toll have escalated in recent years.
In the South East, Biafra separatists continue to call for independence. The most prominent voice in this is the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whose leader Nnamdi Kanu has been missing for several months. The group has vowed that no election will take place in the south east until a referendum on secession is called.
Finally, gang violence has resulted in several deaths recently, particularly in the Niger Delta and South-South region. Worrying, these groups are often instrumentalised by politicians around elections.
The economy
The economy will be another crucial issue. Nigeria is still suffering from a fuel scarcity, while the economic downturn continues. When Buhari came into office, the price of dollar was around N170. Today that figure is closer to N360.
Nigeria exited its first recession in 25 years in the second quarter of 2017, but growth remains sluggish. The country continues to depend on oil, while UN- and under T employment have increased notwithstanding the administration’s novel social intervention programmes (SIP).
Corruption
Buhari rode to victory in 2015 as the anti-corruption candidate, vowing to launch a war on graft. Corruption will once again be an important issue, but the incumbent will struggle to present himself as the same clean crusader this time around.
While Buhari has embarked on some anti-corruption measures, critics note that his allies have avoided prosecution. Various of his associates have been fingered in scams, such as his chief-of-staff Abba Kyari, while the president has been perceived to have targeted his opponents.
The uncoordinated approach taken by agencies in the fight against corruption have contributed to the fact that Nigeria has actually dropped 12 places from 136 to 148 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
Social media, fake new, misinformation and disinformation
As in politics and elections across the world, social media is set to play a major role in Nigeria’s 2019 campaign.
In the 2015 elections, hate speeches and misinformation spread far and wide, with Buhari targeted in particular. After the elections, incredible rumours and lies continued to abound, to the extent that there were even allegations that the man that eventually returned from London after prolonged illness was not in fact the real Buhari, but a cloned version from Sudan.
Ahead of the recently concluded Anambra governorship elections, we saw another example of how fast-spreading misinformation could almost skew a process. Rumours emerged on social media that soldiers had invaded schools in Ozobulu, Anambra State, and were forcefully injecting pupils with poisonous substances that cause monkey pox. This led to the shutdown of schools in Imo, Enugu, Abia, Anambra and Ebonyi state and even affected Rivers and Balyesa states. The false story was said to have been posted on the Facebook page of the IPOB, which had vowed to disrupt any elections in the region.
Nigeria’s social media space is generally highly susceptible from manipulation by influential individuals with vested interests and little sense of electoral ethics. They are ready to confuse or divide people along ethnic, religious or other lines to serve their own ends. In 2015, the PDP recruited Cambridge Analytica. In 2019, those with sufficient resources may again solicit the services of international PR firms with records of employing questionable methods.
 
 
 
Idayat Hassan is director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), an Abuja-based policy advocacy and research organization with focus on deepening democracy and development in West Africa.
This article was first published on African Arguments  www.africanarguments.org