Nigerians contemplate the price of democracy
Saturday 01 August 1992
Twenty candidates have entered the primaries, to be held each Saturday over the next six weeks, in the quest for nomination by Nigeria's only two legal parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC), both created and funded by President Ibrahim Babangida's seven-year- old military government.
While vote-buying has traditionally tarnished Nigerian elections since independence from Britain 32 years ago, many observers argue that spending on this year's campaign is unprecedented. One SDP candidate, a multi-millionaire businessman, Arthur Nzeribe, has said he has pounds 25m in his war chest. At rallies, presidential hopefuls are expected to pay the crowds who turn out, local government officials, dancers, and often the journalists covering the event.
'This could lead to a moneytocracy . . . a government of moneymen for more money for themselves and for those who paid their initial bill for their elections,' General Olusegun Obasanjo, head of state in 1975-79, said in a recent lecture.
The two parties also got into the act by imposing levies of pounds 10,000 to pounds 13,000 on each candidate, ostensibly to reduce the number of contestants from the original more than 60. 'The moneybags have hijacked the parties,' Segun Ogundimu, who withdrew from the race, told the independent Lagos newspaper, The Guardian. 'I was under the impression that the government was keen on creating a new political culture. It was as if the presidency is for sale.'
The leading candidates for the NRC, whose political base runs from the Hausa-Fulani people of the north-west to the Ibos of the east, are a former minister of industries, Adamu Ciroma, a former intelligence chief, Umaru Shinkafi, and a newspaper publisher, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu. Frontrunners in the SDP, which is dominated by the Yoruba people of the south-west and minority ethnic groups in central and north-eastern Nigeria, include a former finance minister, Olu Falae, a former army chief of staff, Shehu Musa Yar'adua, and ex- Senate leader Sola Saraki.
The sources of the candidates' campaign funds and their past behaviour have been investigated by the State Security Service (SSS), but the National Electoral Commission said on Thursday that it would not exercise its right to ban candidates without explanation until after the primaries.
Some human rights activists have charged that such bannings could create enough instability to allow Gen Babangida to fulfil what they allege is his 'secret agenda' - to stay in power. Despite the President's repeated vow to leave office next January, the past month has seen increased calls from pro-government groups for the military to remain. 'We believe that their leaving now would amount to abdication of authority to imminent future chaos and disorder,' a group known as the Third Eye said in a recent two- page newspaper advertisement. 'The anarchists must not have their way to divide our nation.'
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 3 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 The Tory donor whose firm is one of Britain’s biggest tax avoiders - with HMRC's blessing
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned
Peaches Geldof: Her final day – and her fatal decision
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israel may have committed war crimes, says UN human rights chief
Taiwan plane crash: Typhoon Matmo could have caused TransAsia Airways disaster, airline suspects
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...
£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...