Friday, March 23, 2007

The 50th good thing about Lagos: A multi-party system is a hallmark of democracy.

I'm trying to get a handle on this upcoming election here in Nigeria, but it really is a lot more difficult than in the U.S., where there are just two major parties and they each choose their candidate well in advance. I've written before about their political system and the elections, but it really doesn't get much clearer to me the more I read about it. In the presidential election that's just a month away, there are 50 political parties registered, though not all have fielded a candidate. There is still some switching around of candidates in even the larger parties. Here's a quote from today's politics and security brief that I got from the company:

Representatives of Nigeria’s eight leading opposition parties- ANPP, AC, APGA, NDP, DPP, PPA, DFPF and ADC- met with Senate president Ken Nnamani to urge him to take over power if President Olusegun Obasanjo fails to leave office on 29th May. This is because there has been considerable speculation that Obasanjo will try to stay on possibly by invoking martial law.

The National Democratic Party (NDP) went to court on Monday 19th March in an attempt to have Nigeria’s general elections postponed. It claims that the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) ill-preparedness would give the ruling PDP unfair advantage in the April polls.

According to the party, the voters’ registration was not concluded 28 days before the elections as stipulated by the nation’s constitution. Sixty million voters are said to have been registered to vote out of a population of 140 million.

So, did you get those initials straight of those 9 major parties? Me neither! Maybe you can understand my confusion. Even just a month before the elections, there is a lot of uncertainty, with many people questioning if they will really happen. Many people think that Obasanjo will find some excuse to stay in power. Today the current vice-president was scheduled to be in court contesting his disqualification from the election due to his indictment by the committee investigating corruption, but I haven't heard of any decision yet. If he is allowed to run, they may have to postpone the election because he wouldn't have his name printed on the ballot. There seem to be a lot of Nigerians who are apathetic about the elections because they don't see anyone working for the common good in politics and they don't have any hope that someone different will change what the government will do for them. It makes me sad that this country with such good people and so many resources has such a broken system and no one able to step in to help fix it.

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