Tag Archives: Nigeria

Why is There So Much Violence in #Nigeria?


If one told Nigerians about a country that has experienced terrorist attacks or large scale insecurity in over 60% of its states in the past decade, they would probably think the country in question is Afghanistan or Iraq rather than their own.

 

Yet every single one of Nigeria’s six geo-political zones has experienced serious violence and insecurity in the past 20 years; from the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, clashes between farmers and cattle herders in the middle belt and south, ethnic, communal, and religious violence in the middle belt between the Tiv and Jukun, and the Fulani and Birom, the Niger Delta insurgency in the south-south, kidnapping and extortion in the south-east, to political violence, and clashes between Hausas and Yorubas in the south-west. Even Nigeria’s offshore waters are not safe and have experienced piracy. What is the cause of all this? Let us examine each in turn…

 

The Boko Haram insurgency has received more attention than any other conflict in Nigeria’s history, so I will not dwell on it here. Instead I will focus on two other conflicts that have not got as much attention. These are the spate of kidnappings around the country, and the conflict between nomadic cattle herders and farmers has killed more than 3600 people in the last three years.

 

KIDNAPPING

 

Recently the BBC streamed an interesting video documentary about kidnapping in Nigeria. Kidnapping for ransom has become a serious security issue in Nigeria with kidnapping gangs making huge sums of money by kidnapping people, and releasing them only after large ransoms have been paid. Prominent victims who have been kidnapped include Michael Obi: the father of the captain of the Nigerian football team John Obi Mikel, and Kamene Okonjo – the mother of Nigeria’s (then) Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Norum Yobo, the brother of Nigeria’s former football captain Joseph Yobo.

 

 

In response the police has set up an anti-kidnapping unit called the Intelligence Response Team under Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari. This BBC documentary is an excellent expose of how serious the kidnapping issue has become in Nigeria. Recently there was a long Twitter thread where kidnapping victims and their families shared stories of how well organised the kidnapping gangs are, the huge sums of money they demand as ransom, and how the families of hostages have to borrow or crowd-source money from friends, family, employers, and their community to pay ransoms to get their family members released. After the release the money they raised is then converted into a loan which they must repay. This sends them into a spiral of economic vulnerability where they are simultaneously financially burdened by debts they have to pay, and also vulnerable to more kidnaps since the kidnappers are now aware that they can and have paid.

 

How and why did the kidnappings start? In 2009 Nigeria’s government ended an insurgency in the oil producing Niger Delta area in the south by doing what Nigeria normally does: use money to solve problems. What originally started as a protest against economic exploitation and pollution in Nigeria’s oil industry also included a campaign of kidnapping oil industry workers. The workers were usually released after their companies or families paid ransoms. 10 years ago I asked on this website, whether the amnesty programme would reward violence by setting a “Cash for guns” precedent by paying militants to not be violent. Not everyone supported the amnesty. The former Rivers State governor Rotimi Amaechi said of the militants: “80% of them are criminals”. That amnesty programme has set a precedent of paying ransoms for hostages that Nigeria has found free to break from.

 

THE FARMER VERSUS HERDER CONFLICT

 

This is a regional problem that has presented a growing trans-national security threat in West Africa (especially in Ghana, Nigeria, and Mali). In March 2016 herders attacked and killed 300 people in Agutu, Benue State in Nigeria. Then last month they killed over 40 people in Enugu State. They have also attacked the Agogo community in Ghana and shot several farmers dead. The herders state that they are acting in self defence and revenge against farmers who attack them and kill or steal their cattle.

 

The non-human catalyst for the conflict is ecology. The Sahara desert’s southward expansion at a rate of nearly 50km a year has dried up grazing areas; causing nomadic cattle herders to head further south and west in search of new grazing and water sources for their cattle. Desertification has simultaneously shrunk farmers’ crops and grazing sources for herders; thereby making green land more scarce and valuable to both.

 

Farmers have accused herders of cutting down trees, and allowing their cattle to eat their crops and destroy farmland. Farmers also bitterly complain about herders’ marauding attacks during which they murder farmers, and rape their wives and daughters. Herders contend that farmers plant crops on established grazing routes, steal, and kill their cattle. The fact that the herders are mostly Muslims of Fulani or Tuareg ethnicity, and that farmers in the areas they migrate to are mostly Christians of other ethnic groups, introduces a lethal sectarian context to the conflict.

 

To avoid the Boko Haram insecurity in Nigeria’s north-east, herders from Niger and Mali adopted new cattle grazing routes, migrated further to southern areas of Nigeria and to Ghana; which brought them into contact with communities that are not accustomed to their presence. Boko Haram and cattle rustlers are also acting as agent provocateurs in the conflict. Boko Haram get their meat from stolen cattle provided to them by bandit cattle rustlers. The rustlers often attack herders, kill them, and steal their cattle. Herding communities often assume that resentful farmers are responsible and take misdirected revenge against them. Although the Fulani and Tuareg are geographically dispersed across several west African countries such as Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, strong kinship networks and solidarity between them means that their revenge can be deadly.

 

So how can the conflict be stopped? Containing it by closing borders is not an option due to the herders’ nomadic nature and the open borders of the ECOWAS region. The Nigerian government’s proposed solution to the conflict threatens to pour fuel on the already burning fire. It proposes to set aside land as Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) for herdsmen and their cattle. Already, many states in southern Nigeria have condemned the plan and announced they will not participate in it.

 

Insurgency, kidnapping, terrorism, and communal violence are now occupational hazards of daily life and Nigeria must plan accordingly by dedicating a special security force to these issues. Specialist units such as the Intelligence Response Team are likely to become more frequent.

Follow me on Twitter: @maxsiollun

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#NIGERIADECIDES2019 – ELECTION RESULTS RELEASED BY #INEC SO FAR


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The APC has won in 17 of the 28 states where results have been released by INEC so far and Buhari leads Atiku by 3.5 million votes. Keep checking back as I will update this page as results continue to be announced.

#NIGERIADECIDES2019 – ELECTION RESULTS RELEASED BY #INEC SO FAR

KEY:

AAC – African Action Congress
ADC – African Democratic Congress
ADP – Action Democratic Party
APC – All Progressives Congress
PDP – People’s Democratic Party
SDP – Social Democratic Party

Winning party in bold text

STATE PARTY TOTAL REGISTERED VOTERS TOTAL ACCREDITED VOTERS TOTAL VOTES CAST INVALID VOTES
Abia AAC: 212 ADC: 336 ADP: 131 APC: 85,058 PDP: 219,698 SDP: 472 1,793,861 361,561 344,471 21,180
Adamawa  

AAC: 282

ADC: 3,989

ADP: 329

APC: 378,078

PDP: 410,266

SDP: 978

 

1,959,322 874,920 860,756 49,222
Akwa Ibom          
Anambra AAC: 124 ADC: 227 ADP: 427 APC: 33,298 PDP: 524,738 SDP: 932 2,389,332 675,273 625,035 19,301
Bauchi AAC: 183 ADC: 296 ADP: 123 APC: 798,428 PDP: 209,313 SDP: 516 2,453,512 1,075,330 1,061,955 37,648
Bayelsa          
Benue AAC: 309 ADC: 554 ADP: 312 APC: 347,668 PDP: 356,817 SDP: 4,927 2,391,276 786,069 763,872 34,960
Borno          
Cross River          
Delta          
Ebonyi AAC: 205 ADC: 213 ADP: 102 APC: 90,726 PDP: 258,573 SDP: 452 1,392,931 391,747 379,394 20,263
Edo AAC: 3,106 ADC: 850 ADP: 714 APC: 267,842 PDP: 275,691 SDP: 184 2,150,127 604,915 599,228 38,517
Ekiti AAC: 400 ADC: 406 ADP: 126 APC: 219,231 PDP: 154,032 SDP: 48 899,919 395,741 393,709 12,577
Enugu AAC: 219 ADC: 348 ADP: 137 APC: 54,423 PDP: 355,553 SDP: 130 1,935,168 452,765 451,063 30,049
FCT AAC: 583 ADC: 246 ADP: 145 APC: 152,224 PDP: 259,997 SDP: 410

 

1,335,015 467,784 451,408 423,951
Gombe AAC: 165 ADC: 248 ADP: 135 APC: 402,961 PDP: 138,484 SDP: 248 1,385,191 604,240 580,649 26,446
Imo AAC: 467 ADC: 541 ADP: 421 APC: 140,463 PDP: 334,923 SDP: 772 2,037,569 585,741 542,777 31,191
Jigawa AAC: 226 ADC: 261 ADP: 107 APC: 794,738 PDP: 289,895 SDP: 5,011 2,104,889 1,171,801 1,149,922 43,678
Kaduna AAC: 243 ADC: 558 ADP: 227 APC: 993,445 PDP: 649,612 SDP: 1,737 3,861,033 1,757,868 1,709,005 45,402
Kano AAC: 416

ADC: 591

ADP: 439

APC: 1,464,768 PDP: 391,593 SDP: 635

5,391,581 2,006,410 1,964,751 73,617
Katsina AAC: 186
ADC: 237
ADP: 140
APC: 1,232,133 PDP: 308,056 SDP: 150
3,210,422 1,628,865 1,619,185 63,712
Kebbi          
Kogi AAC: 250 ADC: 4,369 ADP: 499 APC: 285,894 PDP: 218,207 SDP: 2,226 1,640,449 570,773 553,496 32,480
Kwara AAC: 401

ADC: 456

ADP: 203

APC: 308,984

PDP: 138,184

SDP: 212

 

1,401 895 489,482 486,254 26,578
Lagos AAC: 8,910 ADC: 2,915 ADP: 1,262 APC: 580,825 PDP: 448,015 SDP: 770 6,313,507 1,196,490 1,156,590 67,023
Nasarawa AAC: 75

ADC: 339 ADP: 107 APC: 289,903 PDP: 283,847 SDP: 359

1,509,481 613,720 599,399 18,621
Niger AAC: 324 ADC: 588 ADP: 2,582 APC: 612,371 PDP: 218,052 SDP: 239 2,375,568 911,964 896,976 45,039
Ogun AAC: 3,196 ADC: 25,283 ADP: 7,705 APC: 281,762 PDP: 194,655 SDP: 1,374 2,336,887 613,397 605,938 41,682
Ondo AAC: 4,414 ADC: 6,296 ADP: 1,005 APC: 241,769 PDP: 275,901 SDP: 1,618 1,812,567 598,586 586,827 30,833
Osun AAC: 1,022 ADC: 1,525 ADP: 9,057 APC: 347,634 PDP: 337,377 SDP: 259 1,674,729 732,984 731,882 17,200
Oyo AAC: 4,041 ADC: 40,830 ADP: 25,384 APC: 365,229 PDP: 366,690 SDP: 766 2,796,542 905,007 891,080 54,549
Plateau AAC: 268 ADC: 590 ADP: 1,395 APC: 468,555 PDP: 548,665 SDP: 599 2,423,381 1,074,042 1,062,862 28,009
Rivers          
Sokoto          
Taraba AAC: 116

ADC: 211

ADP: 136

APC: 324,906 PDP: 374,743 SDP: 862

1,777,105 756,111 741,564 28,687
Yobe AAC: 137 ADC: 162 ADP: 107 APC: 497,914 PDP: 50,763 SDP: 180 1,365,913 601,059 586,137 26,772
Zamfara          

 

 

Stears Business are doing a wonderful job of tracking the results live here.

You can also follow the results live on Channels TV.

#NigeriaDecides – Buhari and Atiku Have Opened Door to Political Forces They Can’t Control or Stop –


This is my latest article in Foreign Policy regarding Nigeria’s upcoming election:

Nigeria Is Headed for Dramatic Changes No Matter Who Wins
The issue of restructuring the country’s delicate federal system has long been a taboo. Both candidates have now put it front and center, ensuring that reforms are on the way.

 

By Max Siollun

 

On Feb. 16, Nigerians will go to the polls for a presidential election. At stake is not only who will be president but also fundamental issues about the structure of the Nigerian state and relations between its constituent units. Who should control the country’s oil resources and security forces? In which areas should the federal and state governments have preeminence over each other? These previously taboo questions have been elevated as key topics on the national political agenda. Regardless of who wins, President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress and his main opposition rival, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, have opened the door to political forces they cannot control or stop.

 

At first glance Buhari and Atiku (as he is known in Nigeria) appear to be opposites. Buhari is austere, tough on corruption, and lacking in flair. The euphoria that greeted his election victory nearly four years ago has dissipated, and some say his antiquated fiscal approach has contributed to economic stagnation. Last year, former President Olusegun Obasanjo (who remains a vital kingmaker despite leaving power nearly 12 years ago) told Buhari to “dismount from the horse” and retire from politics.

 

Atiku is a gregarious multibillionaire businessman and veteran politician who is seen as business-savvy and has promised economic liberalization, but he has been dogged by corruption allegations. It seems that voters can have a fight against corruption or economic stimulus, but not both. But there is a third and more serious issue bubbling beneath the surface.

 

Similar levels of support for the two main candidates have made the election result too close to call. Since both men are ethnic Fulani Muslims from northern Nigeria, neither can resort to pandering based on ethno-regional or religious sentiment to take votes away from the other, as is frequently the case in Nigerian elections. Due to Nigeria’s gentleman’s agreement to rotate the presidency between the country’s north and south, there is not much southern ferment against the regional origin of the two leading candidates, with the expectation that the south will have its turn in power next time.

 

Yet between the candidates, the pressure to secure a decisive advantage has changed the political narrative and forced both Buhari and Atiku to address uncomfortable existential questions about Nigeria that were delicately circumvented by past governments. For the past 20 years since Nigeria returned to democracy, the country has been stuck with a highly centralized federal structure bequeathed to it by past military governments. This structure gives the federal government huge power over states, control of the country’s oil deposits and security forces, and the power to declare a state of emergency in any state whether or not that state consents. Rather than being reservoirs for local interests, Nigeria’s states are consequently little more than conduits for the implementation of federal government policies.

 

Atiku has described Nigeria’s current political system as “unworkable” and has advocated “devolution of powers and resources to states and local governments” and greater autonomy for states. To combat the insecurity that has led to the military being deployed in at least 32 of Nigeria’s 36 states, he also supports allowing Nigeria’s states to form their own police forces to reinforce Nigeria’s currently federally controlled military and police forces. Buhari is a conservative and has rejected a political restructuring of Nigeria.

 

Such proposals will reverberate at both ends of Nigeria. The issue of restructuring Nigeria’s unusual federal system has been a big talking point for the last three decades. However, regional autonomy is a potentially explosive issue in a country that fought a civil war from 1967 to 1970 and sacrificed over 1 million of its citizens to prevent one of its southern regions from seceding, and in which just three of the country’s 36 states today produce 75 percent of the country’s oil and over 50 percent of government revenues. Those revenues, derived from the oil-producing states in the country’s south, are shared between all of Nigeria’s states and the federal government. The oil-producing states currently receive 13 percent of oil revenues derived from their lands, but if they claw back a greater share of those revenues, many states that aren’t oil-producing would be pushed into extreme poverty. Indeed, only eight of Nigeria’s states are thought to be economically viable enough to survive without financial allocations from oil revenue.

 

Atiku’s proposals will delight many younger and southern Nigerians who have campaigned for such measures for three decades, hoping that it will allow Nigeria’s oil-producing states to have a greater say over and share of the profits from the oil drilled from their lands. However the proposals seem radical coming from a northern Muslim such as Atiku, who comes from the part of the country that has traditionally resisted southern-inspired changes to Nigeria’s political order. Historically, many northerners feared that such changes to Nigeria’s constitutional order would reduce the poorer northern states’ share of lucrative revenues from the oil fields in Nigeria’s south. The chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Ango Abdullahi, claimed that some have “personalized restructuring with a view to targeting a section of the country, and this is the area that we feel very sensitive about, and we will resist it.”

 

Yet the north also has its own reasons to support Atiku’s restructuring ideas. Many complain that Nigeria’s police and soldiers (who are recruited from all over the country under a quota system) are disadvantaged in their fight against the militants of Boko Haram because most of them are not from the northeast where the insurgency emerged, are not familiar with the terrain, and don’t speak the local Kanuri language of the region, thereby making it difficult for them to win the trust of locals and obtain intelligence from them. Some argue that troops should be locals with knowledge of the local language, terrain, and customs.

 

Localization of the security forces has already been occurring slowly, albeit unofficially and without constitutional backing. Nigeria’s Constitution recognizes only those security forces that are established by the federal government and forbids states from creating their own police forces. Yet some states have allowed militia to exist in a legal twilight zone alongside the constitutionally recognized military and police forces.

 

Some of the military’s successes against Boko Haram have been due to the assistance given to them by a militia of local volunteers called the Civilian Joint Task Force. Using their local knowledge, the group has provided vital intelligence to the military, set up security checkpoints, arrested or executed Boko Haram members, and even assisted the military during raids. Twelve states in Nigeria’s north operate under Sharia. Some of these states created enforcement corps known as Hisbah to police their legal code. Several years ago, some southern states also allowed vigilante groups to apprehend armed robbers.

 

Critics pointed out that some of the vigilantes spent as much time eliminating political rivals of their state governor as they did fighting criminals. These local ethno-cultural and religious differences demonstrate the challenges of allowing local communities to create their own security forces. In one part of the country they may be used to fight insurgents, to enforce a theocracy in another, or as political thugs in another. In a country with deep sectarian cleavages such as Nigeria, legislating different legal regimes for these groups would be impossible without accusations of ethnic, geographic, or religious bias. Thanks to Buhari and Atiku’s candor these are no longer academic debates but immediate real-life problems that Nigeria’s next government must confront.

 

If Buhari holds on to power, he will be under pressure to respond to these thorny issues. If Atiku wins, the electorate will expect him to deliver on his campaign promises. Even if neither man intends to touch the restructuring time bomb, the issues they have raised are likely to be picked up by whoever contests the next election.

 

They have unwittingly elevated the restructuring issue to such a high level on the national agenda that they are likely to remain campaign issues even for the next election in 2023, when a younger candidate from the south is almost certain to become president.

 

In Nigeria, younger politicians are far more likely than their conservative elders to implement massive reforms. No matter what Buhari and Atiku do, a southern successor is far more likely than them to push for radical changes to Nigeria’s structure. And that means four years from now Nigeria may have a president with the motivation to not only espouse reforms, but implement them, too.

 

https://twitter.com/maxsiollun

Max Siollun is a Nigerian historian and the author of the books Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture 1966-1976 and Soldiers of Fortune: a History of Nigeria (1983-1993). Follow him on Twitter: @maxsiollun

 

 

History of #Africa TV Series by @TheZeinabBadawi


I had the privilege of speaking to the renowned Zeinab Badawi last week. She is working on an exciting sequel to her documentary series on the History of Africa. You can watch the first series here. The great news is that she is currently doing preparatory work for the next series which will feature Nigeria! She will interview a lot of prominent people in Nigeria and give insight on pre-Colonial Nigeria.

Ms Bedawi is rather busy these days. I first came across her when she was a news reader on Channel 4. These days she is the chair of the Royal African Society and works with UNESCO. I am very much looking forward to her next series and highly encourage you to watch her first series above.

Would MKO #Abiola Have Been a Good President?


On the 25th anniversary of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election approaches, I ask a question that Nigerians rarely ask, and will never know the answer to.

The facts of the annulment are well known. After the painstaking eight year conduct of a “transition programme” to return Nigeria to civilian democratic rule after 9 years of military rule, the then military government led by General Ibrahim Babangida voided the results of the June 12, 1993 election that was supposed to herald the return of democracy. That act added the word “annulment” to the standard Nigerian vocabulary. Although the full election results were never disclosed, everyone knows that Moshood Abiola won. However, given his antecedents, background and temperament, would Abiola have been a beneficial President for Nigeria?

The story of Abiola’s life is a classic rags to riches story that could be a Hollywood film. He was born into poverty in a large family. His birth came after a series of failed pregnancies, still born children and infant deaths in his family. He eventually attended the famous Baptist Boys High School in his home town of Abeokuta, in Ogun State. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is another alumnus of that school. Afterward he studied accountancy at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He then worked with the multi-national pharmaceutical company Pfizer. However Abiola made his name and riches when he joined the telecommunications company International Telegraph and Telephone (ITT). Abiola eventually became the chairman of ITT and via series of cordial relations with key army officers, Abiola amassed so much wealth, influence and fame that he once boasted of being the richest African on Earth.

Two of Abiola’s closest military friends were then Minister of Communications Brigadier Murtala Muhammed and Lt-Col Ibrahim Babangida. Abiola met Babangida in 1974 when Abiola was selling radio systems to the military. Babangida was sent to evaluate the quality of devices being sold by Abiola. According to Babangida “From that time the relationship developed and he was always around”.

Abiola also met Brigadier Muhammed after bravely confronting Muhammed over a series of debts owed to Abiola’s company by Muhammed’s Communications Ministry. The normally fearsome and ruthless Muhammed was impressed by Abiola’s courage and the two struck up a friendship. With Babangida and Muhammed eventually becoming Heads of State, Abiola exploited his relationship with them to secure extensive patronage via contracts with the government and became spectacularly rich in the process. His business empire grew massively as did his bank account balance, number of wives, concubines and children.

With his perpetual wealth ensured, Abiola turned to politics and joined the ruling party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The NPN had an elaborate zoning system for the distribution of government portfolios – including the presidency. Since the presidency had been zoned to President Shagari (from the north), Abiola assumed that when President Shagari’s term of office expired, the NPN would zone the presidency to the south, and he would be allowed to run for President. He was wrong. His presidential ambition was rebuffed by the powerful Minister of Transport Umaru Dikko who told him that “the presidency is not for sale to the highest bidder”. Abiola “retired” from politics soon after – totally exasperated with the NPN. He would have his revenge. President Shagari reported that several frustrated politicians engaged in what he termed “coup baiting” against his government. Abiola had a massive publishing empire was used to launch frequent vitriolic attacks on President Shagari’s government with the intention of discrediting it sufficiently to psychologically prepare the public for its replacement by a military regime. In his memoirs (“Beckoned to Serve”), President Shagari later obliquely referred to the financing and support given to military conspirators by an unnamed “well known business tycoon”. Although he declined to name this tycoon, contextually it was an obvious reference to Abiola. Babangida went further in unequivocally confirming Abiola’s role in financing a coup plot against Shagari and using his influence to destabilise Shagari’s government. He later revealed that Abiola:

“was also very good in trying to mould the thinking of the media. We relied on him a lot for that. So there was both the media support and the financial support.” (Karl Maier – Midnight in Nigeria)

President Shagari was overthrown in a military coup on December 31, 1983 and replaced by a military government in which Abiola’s friend Babangida was Chief of Army Staff (number 3 in the regime). Less than two years later Abiola was at it again and financed another military coup which eventually led to his friend Babangida becoming Head of State. Abiola’s wife Simbiat was opposed to his involvement in politics. However after she died in 1992 Abiola returned to politics and ran for President in an election stage managed by his bosom friend Babangida. As a southern Muslim (the religion of the north) and who was a close friend of the Head of State, an Abiola presidency seemed a virtual certainty. As results began trickling in, it became obvious that Abiola was headed for a landslide victory. He even defeated his opponent Bashir Tofa in Tofa’s home state of Kano. For the first time Nigerians voted across ethnic and religious lines as Christians voted for a Muslim, and northerners voted for a southerner. However something went very wrong. On June 23, 1993 the election was annulled and Abiola was denied the presidency. Five years later Abiola was dead, having been incarcerated for treason for declaring himself the rightful president.

So what would have happened had the election not been annulled and had Abiola ruled? A powerful hard line faction in the military bitterly opposed his candidacy. Babangida later said that had Abiola become President, he would have been overthrown in a violent military coup within six months. The then Director-General of military intelligence Brigadier Halilu Akilu was quoted as saying that “Abiola will be President over my dead body”. Other officers in the regime such as General Sani Abacha and Brigadier David Mark (current Senate President) promised to overthrow or even kill Abiola if he became President. With such opposition to him in the army, an Abiola presidency would almost certainly have led to new round of bloody coups and counter-coups that would have given the military a pretext to retain power. Nigeria might even have still been under military rule today.

But what if the military had supported Abiola? Would an Abiola presidency have been good for Nigeria? Abiola did not win the June 12, 1993 election because he was a massively popular candidate. He won and was adopted as an unlikely symbol of democracy by a public that was desperate to rid Nigeria of increasingly corrupt and authoritarian military rule. To the public, any candidate was better than the military.

Olusegun Obasanjo warned that“Abiola is “not the Messiah that Nigerians are looking for”.

How (in)accurate was Obasanjo’s assessment of Abiola?

Having come from a poor background Abiola was extremely generous to the poor and made grandiose charitable donations. These took the form of bulk buys of rice and tinned milk, to constructing new wings in new universities. He also awarded several hundred scholarships from his own personal fortune. Abiola made such gestures country-wide and did not limit them to his own ethnic or geographic group. He had contacts and friends across all ethnicities and regions of the country. It was also hoped that Abiola’s stupendous wealth meant that he was rich enough not to be tempted to loot the state treasury. A rich multi-billionaire southern businessman from the south, who adopted the religion of the north and had extensive local and international contacts, the perception was that if Abiola could not govern, no one could.

However Abiola had many weaknesses which might have proved his undoing had he become President. His first and foremost weakness was for female flesh. His appetite for women was such that a decade after his death, not even his own family is aware of how many wives and children he had. Educated estimates put the number of his wives somewhere between 25 and 40, and children anywhere between 60 and 120. He also had a number of concubines. Such a complicated personal life could have proved embarrassing and destabilising for a President in the public eye and would probably have occupied several column inches for gleeful tabloids.

Although from humble origins, in adulthood Abiola was no firebrand political reformer and he was unlikely to rock the boat or risk physical challenge. In many ways he was part of Nigeria’s corrupt elite and a government led by him would have continued with business and corrupt dealings as usual. His emergence as a presidential candidate was predicated on his membership of that corrupt elite. In the end the same military Leviathan which Abiola sponsored and supported ended up devouring him.

#Nigeria’s Educational System


10.5 million Nigerian children are not attending school. These BBC reports discuss the reasons why. Some of the reasons   Education officials have blamed cultural factors, nomadic communities and the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency; but critics point to a lack of funding.

There is a cultural/geographic dimension to the education issue as well. 60% of the out of school children are in northern Nigeria.

 

Celebrating #Nigeria’s Female Military Officers


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I often post abut the exploits of Nigeria’s military. Most of those posts are about military men. So today, I decided to give credit to some of the gallant women of the Nigerian military who have not received as much coverage.

Probably the most celebrated female officer in Nigerian military history is Major-General Aderonke “Ronke” Kale who in 1994, became the first woman to become a major-general (two star general ) in the history of the Nigerian military. She was promoted to major-general along with other officers that later came to prominence such as Ishaya and Musa Bamaiyi.

Kale was a psychiatrist by training who joined the army, became head of the army medical corps, and survived and rose up the ranks in the cut-throat era of 1990s military shenanigans during which the military consumed itself with politics and Machiavellian coup plots.

You can read more about Major-General Kale here and here.

Major-General Abimbola Amusu

the-first-female-medical-commander-maj-gen-a-kalertd0-wit-the-commander-medical-in-her-officer

Recently Kale’s feat was equaled when Major-General Abimbola Amusu became only the second female major-general in the army (after Kale). Amusu is currently the commander of the Nigerian army medical corps, and is currently the only female major-general serving in the entire Nigerian army. In a nice emotive touch, the retired Kale attended the ceremony at which Amusu was appointed the medical corps commander.

 

Blessing Liman: Nigeria’s first female fighter pilot:

 

Captain Chinyere Kalu: Nigeria’s first female professional pilot:

 

Rear-Admiral Itunu Hotonu

Another record breaking female officer is Rear-Admiral Itunu Hotonu who in 2012, became the first female rear-admiral in the history of the navy.

admiral-itunu-hotonu

Incidentally Kale, Amusu, and Hotonu are Yoruba.

 

#Nigerian Army Chief Speaks About #BokoHaram and Corruption


 

Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai  had a BBC Hardtalk interview this week with the BBC’s Stephen Sackur. Sackur gave Buratai a very serious Jerexy Paxman style grilling on varied issues such as alleged human rights issues by the Nigerian army, corruption, the Nigerian army’s ongoing fight against Boko Haram, and allegations that Buratai owns properties in Dubai.

It was quite an uncomfortable interview and it got sticky and awkward for Buaratai and several points.

What is Behind the Recent #Biafra Agitation in #Nigeria? (Part 2)


The topic that dominates Nigerian public discourse at the moment is the resuscitated demands for the secession of the eastern region as a new country called Biafra. This comes 50 years after the last (failed and very costly) attempt at Biafran secession.

Channels TV’s Kadaria Ahmed and Al-Jazeera recently hosted television shows about the new Biafra phenomenon. I was a very informative series. Please see below for the Al-Jazeera TV Show:

What is Behind the Recent #Biafra Agitation in #Nigeria? (Part 1)


The topic that dominates Nigerian public discourse at the moment is the resuscitated demands for the secession of the eastern region as a new country called Biafra. This comes 50 years after the last (failed and very costly) attempt at Biafran secession.

Channels TV’s Kadaria Ahmed and Al-Jazeera recently hosted television shows about the new Biafra phenomenon. I was a very informative series. Please see below for the Channels TV Show:

Part 2:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=602&v=8t7eSMQm0Sw

Part 3:

BIAFRA: A Metaphor For Restructuring? Pt 3

Part 4:

BIAFRA: A Metaphor For Restructuring? Pt 4

Part 5:

BIAFRA: A Metaphor For Restructuring? Pt 5

Part 6:

BIAFRA: A Metaphor For Restructuring? Pt 6

Part 7:

BIAFRA: A Metaphor For Restructuring? Pt 7

Part 8:

BIAFRA: A Metaphor For Restructuring? Pt 8

Part 9:

 

BIAFRA: A Metaphor For Restructuring? Pt 9

Part 10:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dMCFBRntDk

Part 11:

BIAFRA: A Metaphor For Restructuring? Pt 11