I go many places
I go government places
I see, see, see
All the bad, bad, bad things
Dem dey do, do, do
Before anything you know at all,
And for dey shout
Oh Lord, Oh Lord, Oh Lord, Oh mighty Lord, Oh Lord, Oh God
–Fela Kuti, “International Thief Thief (ITT)”
Vital lessons for Kenya from past problems over elections in Nigeria: The Nation is calling for a “Nigerian solution” to the current political crisis. With a straight face, too. It seems.
This is a bit like General Motors announcing plans to revive the Corvair. Successful postmodern businesses can only thrive by emulating eminent historical failures, the marketing geniuses argue.
In 1993, Nigeria’s military rulers played the same political hand, causing a political crisis. Out of this, emerged statesmanship from both the north and the south reaching out for a compromise that would save the country from disintegrating like Yugoslavia did. In the context of Kenya’s political crisis, similar statesmanship could apply.
Nigeria continued to be ruled by military rulers from 1993-1998, led by Sani Abacha. Who was accused of looting the public treasury to the tune of $5 billion. Personally. [cite] $280 billion is sometimes cited as the total sum looted by the regime. [cite]
A transitional government from 1998-1999 was followed by the democratic Obasanjo regime under which, in 2003, “massive” election fraud was denounced by international observers.
Time magazine, April 23, 2007, “A failure of democracy in Nigeria”:
“These elections have not lived up to the hopes and expectations of the Nigerian people and the process cannot be considered to have been credible,” said Max van den Berg, chief election monitor for the European Union. A local alliance of civil society observers called for the cancellation of Sunday’s vote. “The election was a charade,” they declared. “A democratic arrangement founded on such fraud can have no legitimacy.” Even outgoing President Olesegun Obasanjo, who nominated Yar’Adua as his successor, admitted: “Our elections could not have been said to have been perfect.”
Obasanjo’s son is a program manager for Microsoft, working on RSS-related projects, reportedly.
I think The Nation can pretty much be reckoned as having become the official voice of the Kibaki faction at this point.
Time on the April 2007 elections in the exemplary Nigeria, cont’d:
The election’s problems weren’t confined to the validity of the vote — although evidence abounded of blatant rigging. Ballot stuffing was widespread, millions of voters were unable to vote because of a shortage of ballot papers, and on the eve of the vote, an army truck was stopped and found to be carrying thousands of ballot papers completed even before the polls had opened.
Obasanjo tries to pull a Chávez (but Nicholas Negroponte says no)
More damaging, perhaps, is the question it raises about the democratic credentials of President Obasanjo, a key ally of U.S. in Africa and whose country is considered a linchpin of regional security and supplies 14% of U.S. oil imports. When he won his second term in 2003, the former military dictator was also accused of massive vote-rigging. Six months ago, the 69-year-old Obasanjo tried to rewrite the constitution to allow himself a third term as President. When that failed, he nominated Yar’Adua, 56 — until then a nonentity — as his People’s Democratic Party candidate, and unleashed anti-corruption investigators on his rivals. A handover of power from a strongman to his puppet in a rigged election is hardly conducive to democratic legitimacy, or stability.
The Nation also cites the example of Algeria. Human Rights Watch, 1997:
… political violence in Algeria since 1992 has cost an estimated 60,000 lives. The precise figures are unknown, as are the proportions of security forces, armed opposition militants, and civilians who have been killed and the extent to which the militants or the security forces and paramilitary forces are responsible. Censorship, fear and other factors have prevented an accurate accounting of the casualties.
“Widespread, vicious and often random violence” does not sound like a great precedent for a country that hopes to continue its “economic miracle” to aspire to emulate.
The widespread, vicious, and often random nature of the violence has created a climate of fear and terror among the population. While some categories of civilians may be at particular risk, many Algerians do not understand who is being targeted or by whom. The identity of those carrying out the violence is difficult to establish, as the security force and the armed groups often conduct themselves in similar ways: the former often wear civilian clothes and do not identify themselves, while the latter sometimes disguise themselves as security forces when stopping cars on the roads or attempting to gain entry to a building.
Sounds a bit like present-day Rio de Janeiro, although we are seeing the first signs now of a credible attempt to put an end to this sort of confusion.
This sort of confusion is not good for business.
Strange Internet rumors over Abacha’s death — and only rumors, as far as I know — just so as this post will not be lacking in at least a touch of the “hooker meme”:
Abacha died at age 54 of a heart attack at his villa, allegedly from cardiac strain brought on by the use of Viagra; other reports maintain that he died from eating a poisoned apple. He was said to have been in the company of Indian prostitutes at the time of his death.
Said by whom?
A poison apple just like Snow White?
Source: International Republican Institute, survey of Kenya voters, March 2007. See also Kenya: “Slate Says IRI Is Sitting on Exit Poll”