Nigerian elections breed chaos

Amidst a push for liberalizing Africa, democracy has found itself at the forefront of agendas abroad. In Nigeria, an example of democratic integration has proven inefficient and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has won without contest since the military ruled Nigeria in 1999. The PDP incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, has led the Nigerian people since the previous president, Umaru Yar-Adua, died in 2010. Past inept elections have promoted the distraught nature of this week’s Nigerian elections.

Being the first supposed election with competition, the ex-PDP member, Muhammadu Bahri, has led a somewhat promising opposition. However reliable polls have been, they have shown that Bahri is far behind Jonathan’s promising outlook. This immediately sparked unrest with the presumption that elections are being rigged. In recent elections, obvious election mishaps occurred. Polls had shown 50,000 votes for the PDP while only 4,000 voters represented the village. Furthermore, names such as Bob Marley and Nelson Mandela repeatedly found themselves on the ballots in a push for PDP superiority.

Now that the elections have been fully determined, Jonathan is said to have won 22.5 million votes to Bahri’s 12.2 million. This does not show drastic differences that would have been the result of a major election fraud. With only 57 percent of the vote, it can officially be said that under Jonathan and the PDP, Nigeria has the most reasonable chance of moving forward. This would be a fair assessment, but as soon as any hint of election results were produced, immediate riots began in northern Nigeria.

Posters with Jonathan’s picture and any form of pro-PDP literature have been destroyed and burned on the grounds that the elections were unfair and rigged. Both Bahri and Jonathan proclaim that these accusations are false and more than minimal efforts were carried out to produce the fairest of elections. In 2010, Jonathan hired Attahiru Jega, a respected academic and Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, to lead the electoral commission and take drastic measures to provide fair elections. Even the printing of ballots abroad took place in order to avoid duplication. This obviously has not convinced the masses, and Nigeria has found itself, once again, in a state of chaos.

Citizens in regions such as Kano and Kaduna in the north hold the heaviest of protest. With the burning of churches and random murder sprees, police barracks have become the only safe refuge. This simply cannot allow for a promising future under Jonathan if this much animosity is the product of reelection. The previous 24-hour curfew has been diminished from dusk to dawn to adhere to the citizens’ will. Military intervention may be a necessary means to peace, while the protests in the north may increase in the wake of oppositional activities.

The outcome is unfavorable for the entire country of Nigeria, and such violence should not have been enticed with supposedly fair elections. The competitive nature of parties in Nigeria caused such rigging of elections, but even though favored towards the PDP, it is a universal tactic to electoral recognition. More international supervision of elections or more military interference could be the necessary means to the most representative  and fair elections. Nigerians must have faith in their election process, but riots and violence are not going to solve the ever-increasing issue.