Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, September 24, 2018

Political meaning of an earthquake

Could earthquakes affect Nigerian politics?

Letter from Africa: The link between earth tremors, God and Nigeria's elections
In our series of letters from Africa, Nigerian writer and novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani considers why some earth tremors in Nigeria's capital caused such a stir.

Sometime in the early hours of 6 September, I was tucked in bed at home in Abuja when, suddenly, a slight trembling seemed to sway the building from side to side…

Later that day, frantic phone calls from friends checking to make sure that I was fine made me realise that what had simply been a mild trembling in my area was more tremulous in certain parts of the city…

A few days after the earth tremors, which were felt in different parts of Abuja between 5 September and 8 September, the government released a statement to reassure residents that there was nothing to worry about…

The National Space and Research Development Agency (NASRDA) assured Abuja residents that there was no cause for alarm, although confirming that an earthquake had indeed occurred.

Agency head Seidu Mohammed said the magnitude was low and not worrying enough to warrant residents of the affected areas panicking and relocating elsewhere…

While government agencies have aired conflicting conjectures, many Nigerians, who tend to be deeply religious, have drawn their own conclusions.

Some believe it is a sign that God is angry with our country about something.

Some believe that it is a warning to President Muhammadu Buhari; perhaps against his style of leadership or his intention to run for re-election in 2019 despite his lacklustre performance over the past three-and-a-half years.

Yet others believe that the earth tremors are simply a call to more fervent prayer for our nation, lest earthquakes soon join an already long list of headline-stealing tribulations that includes: Farmer-herdsmen clashes, the Boko Haram insurgency, ethnic agitations and the battered economy.

One can hardly imagine how Nigeria might handle earthquakes when the government is still battling to cope with these other disasters that have left millions displaced and in dire need.

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