Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Final note on Nigeria's election

The BBC offers final notes on Nigeria before the election.

Nigeria elections: Nation split in Jonathan-Buhari contest
In Nigerian elections, the incumbent always wins. But so far this campaign has been different from all others and this Saturday's poll is a real contest.

Not only has President Goodluck Jonathan haemorrhaged support since he comfortably won in 2011, the "change" chanting opposition has thrown its combined weight behind one candidate - former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari…

With control over Africa's largest economy at stake - this is a country where multi-billion dollar corruption scandals come and go - the campaigns have been toxic with both the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) hurling abuse at each other…

"Shamelessly you will discover politicians, against the electoral law, distributing money," says Bawa Abdullahi Wase of the Nigeria-based Network For Justice rights group.

He says a candidate wishing to get a seat in the House of Representatives needs a minimum of $1m (£670,000) for the campaign. For a Senate seat the war chest must be even larger.

These are the most expensive elections ever held in Africa and Nigerians are left guessing how much of the campaign money has been looted from the public purse by power-hungry men and women on both sides of the political divide.

"When they get into office, instead of concentrating on offering services to the people like electricity, water, roads and education, they amass the wealth of the total budget because they know for the next election they will have to spend more than they've spent in this election," Mr Wase adds.

As well as cutting expensive deals, the main political parties have been dishing out sacks of rice to voters in an effort to influence the outcome.

"I will collect it, but I will vote for whoever I want," says Peter Ayas, standing in a tailor's shop in the commercial capital Lagos's Obalende suburb. He adds that he found the bribe an insult.

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