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Yar’Adua must reverse Nigeria’s failure, International Crisis Group warns

Posted by From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Abuja on 2007/06/02 | Views: 553 |

Yar’Adua must reverse Nigeria’s failure, International Crisis Group warns


In spite of the official fanfare that heralded the inauguration of Nigeria’s new President two days ago, the country may be heading to a troubled future unless Umaru Musa Yar’Adua acts urgently to pull it back from the brink, an international conflict prevention think-tank has warned.

In spite of the official fanfare that heralded the inauguration of Nigeria’s new President two days ago, the country may be heading to a troubled future unless Umaru Musa Yar’Adua acts urgently to pull it back from the brink, an international conflict prevention think-tank has warned.

In its latest report entitled, Nigeria: Failed Elections, Failing State?, published on Wednesday, the International Crisis Group (ICG), based in Brussels, Belgium, observes that Nigeria’s failed elections have undermined the country’s status as a democracy.

The highly regarded group, which former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan once described as "a global voice of conscience and a genuine force for peace," also says the bungled election has undercut Nigeria’s capacity to deal with the many internal conflicts that continually threaten its security and stability.

The report points out that the elections have weakened Nigeria’s position as a broker of peace and a champion of democracy across Africa. It adds that the botched polls have also diminished the country’s chances of securing the possible African seat in an expanded United Nations Security Council. Noting that Nigeria’s case for that honour "has now been seriously damagedů," it says, "many diplomats believe that if a permanent African Security Council seat had to be decided today, Nigeria would trail South Africa, Egypt and possibly Algeria."

The organisation observes that the failure of the elections has diminished confidence in the democratic process, especially among the electorate who were the biggest losers, and exacerbated existing tensions in the Niger Delta. It may also be re-igniting separatist agitation by the Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in the South East, due to diminished trust in governing institutions.
While the country’s former and new governments have been celebrating what they see as the first-ever civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in Nigeria’s history, the ICG report says the transition to a hand-picked successor through a flawed election was more like a dynastic succession, falling far short of international standards for democratic maturity .

"Nigeria’s democracy has derailed," says Crisis Group’s West Africa Project Director, Carolyn Norris. "Yar’Adua has to understand that no number of overtures will satisfy the opposition and especially the aggrieved civilian public, unless and until his administration engages seriously on the very broad agenda that needs to be faced if Nigeria is to confront its existing and pending crises effectively."

The report notes that engaging with these issues requires a government that enjoys legitimacy in the eyes of its people and can enlist their cooperation, but that Yar’Adua has assumed the presidency with less legitimacy than any previous elected Nigerian president. He may therefore have less capacity, the report says, to moderate and resolve Nigeria’s violent domestic conflicts.

"Concerted measures are required within the next few weeks to heal the most evident wounds of the elections," says Francois Grignon, Crisis Group’s Director of Africa Program. "Immediate steps must be taken to build government legitimacy and avoid any further slide to state failure," he said.

Foremost among those immediate steps, the group urges Yar’Adua to work hard and fast in building the legitimacy of his administration. A foremost priority, it says, is to work with the opposition to form an inclusive government of national unity, not by co-opting individuals but rather by accepting only the official nominees of opposition parties. He must also overhaul the discredited leadership of the electoral commission and establish an independent inquiry to identify responsibility for electoral fraud, the report adds.

The group also calls on the Senate to launch a judicial inquiry into the election commission’s financial management, and initiate a national, all-stakeholder conference towards comprehensive electoral reforms. It urges the United Nations, United States and European Union to give material and technical aid to election tribunals.

It also urges the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to encourage the Yar’Adua administration to move fast towards ensuring electoral justice, inclusiveness and reconciliation.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.