Nigéria: inquiétudes à la veille des élections/ Nigeria: Worries before the elections

La population nigérianne s’inquiète de l’arrivée prochaine des élections au Nigéria. Les législatives auront lieu le 14 avril, et les présidentielles le 21. Le pays est reconnu pour ses troubles et émeutes en période électorale. De plus, les élections elles-même sont souvent truquées. C’est ce que rapporte cette dépêche de l’ONU (lien en anglais). L’inquiétude est d’autant plus grande que certains candidats vedettes ont été écartés des élections, comme c’est le cas pour Atiku Abubakar; ou sont subitement décédés, comme Adebayo Adefarati.

Selon la commission électorale indépendante, la mort d’Adefarati ne changera en rien la tenue des élections:

Radio Nigeria n’a fourni aucune précision sur la mort d’Adebayo Adefarati, ancien gouverneur et candidat de l’Alliance pour la démocratie à la présidence. Des informations avaient précédemment fait état de son hospitalisation. M. Adefarati ne comptait pas parmi les favoris sur les 24 candidats en lice.

Conformément à la législation, le scrutin peut être reporté si le candidat d’un parti décède après la clôture des candidatures. Sa formation peut demander un report. Cependant, Segun Adeogun, porte-parole de la commission électorale, a fait savoir que “cela n’affectera pas les élections”. Il n’a toutefois pas précisé si le parti de M. Adefarati avait demandé un report.

Advenant des violences durant ou après les élections, la population demeure sceptique quand aux capacités de la police de contenir les débordements malgré l’assurance de son inspecteur général: Sunday Ehindero.

The Nigerian population is worried about the incoming elections in Nigeria. On April 14th, legislative elections will take place and, on the 21st, the presidential election. The country is known for the civil disorders occurring during election times. But, the elections themselves are most often rigged. Thats what this United Nation’s news item tells us:

Many voters in Nigeria’s general elections in April say that little appears to have changed from previous elections that were characterised by massive fraud and violence followed by military takeovers.

“They [electoral authorities] are just going to write whatever figures they like and declare whoever they want to be the winners,” Joe Adeyanju, a 44-year-old car mechanic in Lagos told IRIN.

“Our vote never counts”, he said

The same sentiment can be found amongst many Nigerians, whether in the Muslim north or the Christian and animist south. As they see it, the decision of who will rule Nigeria is being made not by voters but by the country’s corrupt and oppressive elite.

Some 64 million Nigerians – less than half the 140 million population – are registered to vote for the country’s 36 state governors and state parliament.

This election will be different according to officials at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is charged with organizing the elections. Now we have an electronic register the head of INEC Maurice Iwu, told IRIN. “Voter registration is where the rigging starts, which makes it important that we have a reliable register and a way of identifying the voter,” he said

He said new voter cards would also make voting more reliable. The cards must have both the holders photograph and thumbprint and must match the information in the electoral body’s database. This will eliminate people registering more than once as well as ballot-stuffing he said, which had been widespread during previous elections.

Still many Nigerians are sceptical that the electoral system can stand firm against the widespread corruption in their country and the ruthless battle to control the country’s estimated $40 billion a year oil wealth, much of which lands in the personal bank accounts of whomever gets to hold office.

  • IRIN: Integrated Regional Information Networks (part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).

Other sources of worries are the situations related to Atiku Abubakar who can’t be candidate for “legal”reasons, and the death of another candidate: Adebayo Adefarati. But according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, the death of Adefarati shouldn’t change the course of the elections:

The death of Presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Adebayo Adefarati, would not affect next month’s election, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said.
Lagos lawyers, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Mr. Femi Falana, at different interviews, hailed the Commission’s decision to go ahead with the election as scheduled and described the action as laudable.
But desirous of participating in the election, AD leaders would meet today in Abuja to deliberate on Adefarati’s death and the party’s chances in contesting the April 21 Presidential election, with a view to adopting a candidate that may replace the deceased.
The INEC position was predicated on the anxiety over the death of the Presidential candidate following conflicting interpretations of the Electoral Act 2006 which states in section 37 that: “if after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner or the Resident Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election”.

If violence occurs during or after the elections the population is also worried about the police’s capacity the handle such an event:

Police Inspector General Sunday Ehindero is confident Nigeria’s oft-criticised police force can cope with whatever national gubernatorial and presidential elections in April might throw at it.

“Outside the general training on the traditional police duties, recruits are given some specific instructions with regards to general conduct of elections and the anti-riot units are also given intensive drills and training to prepare them for the election duties,” Ehindero said from his office in Lagos.

But many Nigerians are not so sure, accusing the police of putting corruption and brutality ahead of democracy.

“It’s like there’s no government here,” said Hygenus Waku, a market trader from Lagos, where dead bodies frequently wash up on the banks of the river, and many of the city’s long bridges become no-go areas at night as armed gangs set up roadblocks.

“The police do nothing to protect you.”

A security official with a multilaterial institution in Nigeria speaking on condition of anonymity said he also doubted Ehindero’s confidence was well placed.

“The approach taken by armed forces when political meetings start to get out of control is known as ‘spray and pray’,” he said, referring to the police’s reputation for indiscriminate shooting.

“They have no riot equipment to speak of or training in tactical crowd control and human rights.”

And to make things worse:

With security forces often favouring candidates from the ruling party, the opposition often recruit personal militias, said Olamide Kayode, a Lagos-based lawyer and political analyst.

Good Luck.

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