Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nigeria Presidential Election, 2011

OK, so a few hours I put up a post with a quick history of politics in Nigeria. A few words now about the current campaign.

Nigeria's presidential elections are scheduled for April 9, 2011.  I've had several people ask me my opinion about the election, but I hadn't been keeping up, so I did a little research and this is what I came up with:

The frontrunner seems to be Goodluck Jonathan, the current president and PDP candidate.  The PDP has held the presidency since democracy was reintroduced to Nigeria in 1999, although these each of these elections have been marred by violence and fraud. The PDP has a "gentleman's agreement" that the presidency will be rotated between the North and South.  Obasanjo, president for 1999-2007, is Yoruba, from the Southwest part of the country.  Obasanjo's vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, is a northerner (and former supporter of bad guy Sani Abacha, who imprisoned Obasanjo) that planned to succeed Obasanjo, but then clashed with him when Obasanjo tried to change the constitution for a third term.  So Obasanjo handpicked a different northerner to succeed him, and thanks to Obasanjo's support, Yar'Adua won, but then he got sick and died before he finished his term and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan (he of the cool name and cool hat) became acting president in February 2010 (when Yar'Adua was sick) and president when Yar'Adua died in May 2010. Jonathan has a PhD in zoology, entered politics in 1998, and has never been elected to office. His parents chose his name Goodluck well because his rise is due in large part to being in the right place at the right time:
When the Bayelsa state governor was arrested on money-laundering charges in 2005, Mr Jonathan, then deputy governor, found himself at the helm. On February 10th (2010, as acting president while Yar'Adua was sick), chairing his first cabinet meeting, he had the confidence to reshuffle some of the ministers known to be allies of Mr Yar’Adua.
Jonathan is from the Southeast part of the country (and, given the brim on his hat, it goes without saying that he's not Muslim), so a Southerner got to be president before the Northerners got to finish their turn. So there was speculation when he took office that he would just keep the seat warm until the end of the term, and then let a Northerner candidate run for the PDP.  There was speculation that Babangida (IBB), a Northerner, would run on top of the PDP ticket and Jonathan would run as vice president, so that the rotation could be restored to order. Babangida was a military head of state from 1985-1993.  He allowed for democratic elections to take place in 1993, but then didn't allow the winner to take office.  In response to massive strikes and protests as a result, he then gave up office to an interim government that was soon after overthrown by bad guy Sani Abacha.

In September 2010, Jonathan announced on Facebook that he would run to be the PDP candidate for president. One of his themes is the promotion of rule of law and rooting out of corruption, but it's not clear how successful he has been in these efforts. "His current campaign is centred on providing good governance, power and energy, food, education, health, land and transport, unemployment, security and the Niger-delta."

In November 2010, Atiku Abubakar was proclaimed the consensus candidate for the North for the PDP ticket (he'd returned to the party after leaving in 2006) and a poll said that he was the frontrunner in the race. Abubakar was vice-president for 8 years under Obasanjo until they had a falling out in part because of Abubakar helped block Obasanjo's attempt to change the constitution so he could run for a third term. But Abubakar was soon accused of forging that poll. 

In January 2011, although Abubakar is the more experienced candidate, Jonathan won the PDP primary with 78% of the vote. Observers attribute this to incumbency advantages, such as the ability to steer a patronage network of gas and oil revenues. Jonathan also likely benefitted from his move "to back PDP state governors seeking a second term in April."

Other candidates

General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) (Congress for Progressive Change) A native of Katsina State (in the north), Muslim, born in 1942, Buhari was 7th head of state of Nigeria (1983 – 1985). Buhari was the candidate for another party (ANPP) in 2003 and 2007, but had a falling out with party leaders of that party, and joined the CPC in 2010. Buhari had a fairly successful anti-corruption program while he was head of state.  He and Nelson Mandela were the only private African individuals to be invited by the White House to attend Obama's inauguration. In 2003 he came in 2nd place, with 32% of the vote, and also came in 2nd place in 2007 but with fewer votes. His campaign promises are virtually indistinguishable from Jonathan's: "General Buhari’s current campaign is centred on providing good governance, economic recovery and infrastructure development, power and energy, agriculture, education, health, land and transport, women empowerment, security and the Niger-delta and unemployment." Buhari is probably frontrunner Jonathan's greatest challenge.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (Action Congress of Nigeria).  The Action Congress candidate in 2007, Abubakar (see above), came in 3rd place in 2007. Action Congress also came in 3rd in legislative elections (after the PDP and ANPP).  According to some observers, PDP supporters are abandoning the PDP for the ACN because the ACN is the main alternative party. Ribadu is a former anti-corruption official (2003-2007) and has been a senior fellow at Oxford and at the Center for Global Development, which is a very well respected research organization - they are fantastic.  One of the first places I go for studies on aid, international development, etc. So I like this guy based on that association alone. He was very successful in his anti-corruption campaign, although some say it was a tool Obasanjo used against his political enemies.  "His campaign goals include the plan to invest in coal (utilizing existing national coal reserves), wind, solar and biomass as alternative means of power generation, create 30 million jobs, achieve a real GDP annual growth of 8% within 5 years and 10% in 10 years, and reduce fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP. " Similar to his competitors, "Nuhu Ribadu’s political campaign is premised on developing human capital and infrastructure, growing the economy, good governance, youth employment, food and agriculture, foreign policy, security, defence and the Niger Delta."

Chief Dele Momodu (National Conscience Party).  NCP presidential candidates were also-rans in 2003 and 2007.

Nigerian election next month

Several times over the past few weeks people have asked me what I think about the Nigerian election coming up, and I haven't been keeping up, so I will quickly get up to speed now.


Under British colonial rule, Nigeria was divided into two or three regions (the Southern region was divided in 1939) - the North, mostly Muslim and Hausa, and in the South there was the West, mostly Yoruba (Christian and Muslim), and the East (mostly Igbo and Christian now, probably a higher share of animists back then). Historically the South was more educated than the North, but Northerners made up a good share of the military. At independence it was 3 provinces in a federal system, but the number has multiplied since, in part because oil revenues are shared by province so there's an incentive to have your own province.

In Nigeria's history, it's had a couple of short democratic spells (4-6 years each) followed by military coups in 1966 and 1983.  There were democratic elections held in 1993, but General Babangida didn't let the winner take office. Babangida was then pressured to hand power to an interim government, but before elections could be held General Abacha took power in November and dissolved all democratic institutions.

Abacha was a bad guy - he was in charge when I lived about 60 km west of Nigeria, in the wonderful town of N'Dali, Benin.  Even though I was so close, I was afraid to go into Nigeria - corruption was terrible, lots of violence, etc.  Security was so bad in the airport, the US wouldn't let direct flights go to and from Lagos. His government prosecuted and executed environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. When he died in 1998, he was replaced by General Abdulsalami Abubakar who pretty quickly released political prisoners and held elections.

One of the political prisoners he released was (former general) Olusegun Obasanjo, who had been head of state for 3 years (during which he introduced universal primary education) and in 1979 was the first military leader to hold elections and hand over power to a democratically elected government.  I remember reading pamphlets arguing for Obasanjo's release when I was in the Peace Corps in Benin.

Obasanjo won the election in 1999 and re-election in 2003 as the candidate for the People's Democratic Party with over 60% of the vote.  His vice-president was Atiku Abubakar (not sure if he's related to Abdulsalami), who had been a supporter of Abacha.  Abubakar wanted to be president after Obasanjo was term-limited out, but Obasanjo tried to get the constitution changed so he could run for a 3rd term.  That didn't work, but Abubakar left the PDP and joined the Action Congress party in 2006. Obasanjo picked Umaru Yar'Adua to be his successor instead, and Yar'Adua, thanks to Obasanjo's support, won the election as the PDP candidate in 2007.  When he died in 2010, the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan (gotta like that name, and gotta like his hat) took office.

So Goodluck Jonathan is now the PDP candidate for president for the elections coming up next month.

That's the background.  I need to go to a workshop thing now but I'll try to find some recent news or analysis about the election when I get a chance. 

Update on Cote d'Ivoire

Things are still bad in Cote d'Ivoire
Three months after Ouattara won the presidential election, (former) President Gbagbo refuses to give up the office. When I was in Abidjan in 1997, it felt like a little piece of Paris in the middle of Africa.  But now there are youth militias, pro-Gbagbo and pro-Outtara, fighting it out in Abidjan suburbs, with dozens of casualties. The police and army, pro-Ggagbo, are firing on peaceful protestors.

Latest in Libya

This map from the NY Times has a nice summary of the current state of affairs.  Qaddafi still controls Tripoli, where about 1 out of 6 Libyans lives (the city has a population of about 1 million, and the country has a population of about 6 million). Tripoli is on the western side of the country, not too far from Tunisia.  He also controls several other smaller cities in the neighborhood, particularly west of Tripoli, with the exception of Zawiyah, which is 25 miles west of Tripoli and has an oil refinery.  Qaddafi has a major attack right now against Zawiyah, trying to win it back from rebels.

Most of the country east of Tripoli is controlled by the rebels except for Surt, which is where Qaddafi's tribe is from. A few days ago the rebels took control of Ras Lanuf, another refinery town, but Qaddafi's troops are attacking there, too, trying to win it back. Most of the towns south-west of Tripoli are also held by the rebels.

The opposition does not want the West to send troops to overthrow Qaddafi; they want the overthrow to be purely the result of local actors.  Governments in Iraq and Afghanistan have compromised legitimacy because they were the result of US invasions.  The rebels are becoming more vocal, however, that they want the West to help out with a no-fly zone to protect them from air raids, etc.  But a no-fly zone would require the West to shoot down anti-aircraft installations in Tripoli, etc., which is a bit of a dicey business, especially if civilians get killed by accident.

Back from blogging hiatus

So it's been almost 2 months since my last post.  I haven't been keeping up with my plan to post something almost every day.  I am now recommitting myself!  Not to the insane asylum, but to trying to put something up every day.

And there has been a lot of news in the past two months, obviously.

In my last post I said that Mubarak and Qadaffi might want to worry, and that was indeed true - Mubarak has now stepped down and Qadaffi is in big trouble, but holding on.  I was somewhat right that Qadaffi was likely to hold on because of that country's dependence on oil - he has a freer hand to crack down on rebellious citizens because he doesn't rely much on local tax dollars to survive.  But the rebellious citizens are doing a good job of taking control of the oil fields and refineries and whatnot, and the international community is freezing his foreign assets where they can find them, so he eventually may run out of funds, but he obviously has a lot saved up and lots of arms and so on stored in and around Tripoli, so it will take a while before he feels those constraints.

I also said Egypt gets a lot of aid.  That's somewhat true - it's one of the main aid recipients from the US - but it doesn't actually get all that much aid given the size of its population and economy.  Plus aid is not as unconditional for dictators as it used to be - the US, the main source of Egyptian aid (accounting for about half), was pressuring Mubarak not to crack down on the protestors, as was the EU (accounting for about a third of aid - the rest comes from multilaterals and Arab sources).  So that money stream wasn't impervious to his actions against protestors.  And although Egypt does actually have a fair amount of its exports coming from fuel, it relies much more heavily on tourism, and tourists don't want to visit pyramids when nice democratic protestors are being shot.  On top of that the role of the military (which also has economic interests that would be harmed by a crackdown) made Mubarak much more constrained regarding potential responses.  So not entirely surprising that Mubarak stepped down faster than Qadaffi, but slower that President Ben Ali in Tunisia.

Below is a scatter plot I presented in a lecture.  These are countries with majority Muslim populations, arranged by income level (from around 2007) and mineral fuel as a share of manufacturing exports.  Generally the pattern in Muslim countries is that either they are poor, or most of their exports are oil and gas, or both.  So it is not surprising that few of these countries are democracies.  The exceptions are in Africa, places like Mali and Senegal, and Turkey (with income level around $6000 per capita, adjusting for living costs) and not in the Middle East or North Africa.

However, the richest Muslim country that does not rely on fuel exports is Tunisia - somewhere in the $8000 per capita range, after adjusting for local living expenses.  About half of the other countries in the world with similar income levels are democracies (e.g., Dominican Republic, Jamaica) although those countries do have their problems (gang violence, drug trafficking, etc.).  Thailand also has a similar income level, and after a pretty good run of democracy became one of the highest income democracies ever to revert to dictatorship.  Apart from Cuba, the countries with income levels similar to Tunisia that are pretty stable dictatorships rely heavily on oil (Iran, Gabon).  So, based on two economic factors that tend to be consistent predictors of democratic transition and survival, Tunisia was the best candidate among Muslim countries.

Egypt is a less likely candidate for democracy than Tunisia, with lower income and more fuel exports.  So we'll see what happens there.  I'm fairly optimistic that the military will eventually allow for democratic elections, but they will continue to be a power behind the scenes, perhaps as they traditionally have been in Turkey.  They might even arrange to have their role in the political system formalized in a new more democratic constitution.

Other potential candidates, based on the above, are Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, with high income levels and increasingly diversified economies.  But these countries are obviously ruled by monarchs.  I think it is in the realm of possibility that the king of Bahrain will allow for his parliament to have more real popular representation and power (I think currently half the parliament is elected and half is appointed, something like that), and allow a new constitution in which he chooses the formateur - a prime minister that then must be able to win majority support in the parliament.  A Glorious Revolution in the Gulf, if you will.  I'm not predicting it but I think it's possible - his position isn't as stable as some of his neighbors, given diminishing oil reserves and a majority Shiite population, and the US with its military base there might be able to encourage some type of compromise.

OK, that's enough about the Middle East, which I'm not claiming to be an expert on.  I should read up and post on Nigeria, which has elections coming up in early April, and do an update on Cote d'Ivoire, where Gbagbo still hasn't given up power and has probably benefitted from the world's attention being diverted by events in North Africa, and an update on Southern Sudan, and see where else news is happening.