Monday, August 30, 2010

Religious pilgrimages are a major event in Nigeria. As such the country sends thousands of Christians to Israel and even more Muslims to Saudi Arabia. However, Saudi Arabia announced that it will no longer issue visas to any Nigerian that participated in the Hajj within the last 5 years. According to news reports, this ban is Nigeria-specific. In response, heads of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) have set off to Saudi Arabia to plead on the behalf of the country's Muslims.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nigeria's President Jonathan finally signed the amended Electoral Act into law on Friday, August 20th in the presence of several political figures and local dignitaries. During the signing ceremony, he said, 

"the process leading to the passage of the bill was a test of the nation's emerging democratic maturity. It is proof that this system can muster the capacity to correct itself while the nation moves on to a higher level of political development."
That description could be correct, but it ignores the numerous delays on the part of the Senate, the House of Representatives and even, President Jonathan, in formalizing the Electoral Act. Nevertheless, the finalization of the amended law is definitely a step in the right direction for the actualization of upcoming elections. This is particularly the case as monies necessary to conduct the polls have been deposited into the election commission's account. Despite this progress, other factors highlight the reality that a free, fair and credible 2011 election are still not guaranteed. In fact, given time constraints and other logistical challenges, Nigeria's upcoming elections could sadly be just as bad or worse than the controversial elections of 2007.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

In June 2010, a representative of Nigeria's political capital, Abuja, announced that local prostitutes had "48 hours to vacate the city and quit the job".  Abuja's Secretary for Social Development, Mrs. Blessing Onuh, also warned men that make use of prostitutes that they will be arrested. Almost two months after that proclamation, Onuh has announced that prostitutes will be sent to a rehabilitation center to prepare them to reenter society. The new information on Abuja's plans for call girls is welcome news. However, as is often the case, a lack of information creates more questions about the strategy to give prostitutes options that would discourage them from having to sell their bodies.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The next Nigerian elections will likely be the most important ever conducted. One reason is because Nigerians will be stuck with the winners of the January polls for anywhere between 4 to 8 years. Even more significant is the fact that if, 12 years after a return to democratic rule, Nigeria is unable to carry out credible elections, there may not be many more opportunities to create a truly democratic system of government.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Nigeria's next elections will occur in January 2011 and candidates are making their intentions known. Tinkering with the nation's electoral law and amendments to the Constitution, however, created a situation where there are less than six months for pre-election preparations. As can be expected, this short period of time is creating complications for Nigeria's election body, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC). Given the rampant fraud of the last election, a review of the voter register proved that a new one must be created. As a result, INEC announced that it needs at least N74 billion to not only create a new register and train 360,000 personnel, but to conduct federal and state-government elections in less than six months. Considering the dire situation at hand, one would think that Nigeria's legislators would get serious and do what is needed to smoothen the task INEC faces in conducting what President Jonathan has repeatedly promised will be free, fair and credible elections. Instead, Nigeria's legislators remain on their holiday and once again are proving that they are not servants of the people and care little about credible elections.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

During a recent conversation, a friend pointed out that one of Nigeria's problems is a growing inability to appreciate and have compassion for others. She pointed out that some believe that if a person is deemed to be outside of one's immediate family, tribe, socioeconomic class or religion, then that person does not deserve to be treated well. This observation goes a long way in understanding the treatment of Nigeria's most vulnerable groups. From domestic help, to children who are sometimes mistreated and violently abused by their employers or those in a position of power over them.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

After much delay, Nigeria's Electoral Act is practically amended as all that remains is the President's stamp of approval. The changes to the law mostly reflect the suggestions of the Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee (ERC). And the electoral body, INEC, got most of the changes it's new leader, Attahiru Jega, pled for. While this new law means that the 2011 elections are one step closer to becoming a reality, certain additional factors could hamper the effective roll out of polls. In fact Jega already noted that there is not enough time to conduct proper elections.

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