Archive for the ‘Nigeria Decides’ Category

Picture featured in with an April 18th New York Times article headlined: Nigeria's President Wins Election.

A popular Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie, gave an excellent TED Talk about the danger of a single story-a story that shows one side but not the other. When I saw this article in the New York Times that was supposedly about Goodluck Jonathan winning the presidency, I felt appalled at the one-sidedness of it. While the headline implies that it will be about Jonathan winning, it focuses entirely on fighting that broke out in the northern part of Nigeria after he was declared the winner. It is true that fighting broke out in the north after Goodluck won. But hundreds of polling places around Nigeria saw nothing but peace and cooperation during the vote. Fighting in the north is not the only story to Nigeria’s 2011 election.

It is true that shocking stories about violence and agression sell papers–– look at a Nigerian newspaper and you will almost surely see gruesome pictures that show people bloodied after fights. People usually don’t care to read that “all is well and the people are happy.” In a case like Nigeria’s current election, reporting on the fighting and not the peace completely negates the possibility for people outside Nigeria to see the progress in this election. Not enough positive reporting has been done abroad about the election when there really is so much to say about how hard Nigerians are working for peace and how far this country has come. The New York Times printed two news articles about Nigeria’s election, one on April 22nd titled, Election Result Fuels Deadly Clashes in Nigeria and on April 18th titled, Nigeria’s President Wins Re-Election. Even most of the pictures on BBC’s Nigeria Elections homepage depict violence. These stories are valuable but it is vital to report the full story. Nigeria has a pretty bad reputation abroad from all the 419 scam emails, tales of militants kidnapping in the Niger Delta and pictures of fighting between Christians and Muslims in the north. We need to tell Nigeria like it is, the bad and especially the good.

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Compared to the previous two democratic elections, Nigerians came out in massive numbers Saturday to press their thumb print on the paper ballot and vote for the next president of Africa’s most populated country.

Even though the number of votes reported for Saturday are small percentages of the total number of registered voters in some states, voters at the polling places are saying the turnout is much bigger than previous years. People I spoke with at the different polling places inside University of Ibadan said they didn’t even vote in the 2007 or 2003 election because of the rampant rigging.

The smooth, peaceful operation of the National Assembly vote last Saturday, April 9th was a message to people that this year, the election process would be different–every vote would actually count. Students and adults inside UI made sure their votes counted by watching the INEC officials count each and every vote in the ballot box out loud. Many recorded everything on their camera phones.

The mood at every polling place was almost unanimously in support for the incumbent presidential candidate, Goodluck Jonathan. The official numbers are not completely in yet, but we should know by Monday who Nigeria’s next president will be. Nigerian politics (of the past) is overwhelmingly party politics and not about the candidate, but on Saturday people voted for Jonathan and not his political party PDP. Everywhere I went I heard people talking about Goodluck. “I need Goodluck for my country.” “We all want Goodluck.” I only heard people saying PDP while the INEC officials counted the PDP votes at each polling place. (Remember, on the ballot you put a thumb print next to the party, candidates names are not present.)

Everyone in Oyo state, the state I live in, is highly anticipating the upcoming gubernatorial election on April 26. It will be a true testament to Nigeria’s departure from party politics when we see if the PDP candidate, incumbent Alao Akala retakes the throne.

I am currently uploading a video about Saturday’s presidential election but with the slow pace of the internet, I am not able to upload it today. Look forward to it ASAP.

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