Eyes on Nigeria
Editor's Note: The Nigerian government announced Feb.7 that the country’s…
Georgia (Feb 4, 2015) —
Editor's Note: The Nigerian government announced Feb.7 that the country’s national elections will be postponed until March 28 and April 11. "The postponement was inevitable," said Kennesaw State Center for Conflict Management Director Akanmu Adebayo, who plans to observe the newly scheduled elections. "With the security situation in country's northeastern states, it is even more imperative that the Nigerian government and the election management body use the next six weeks to be ready to conduct free, fair, credible, and non-violent elections."
Center of Conflict Management director returns to observe country’s national elections
KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb. 4, 2015) — Descriptions of the climate in the African nation of Nigeria leading up to the country’s February 14 national elections are ripped right from the pages of the international press.
“Nigeria elections: Blast hits [President] Jonathan rally in Gombe,” “International prosecutor urges Nigerian parties to refrain from violence ahead of elections” and “Boko Haram ramps up attacks ahead of Nigerian elections,” the BBC, Associated Press and World News Group, respectively, reported Feb. 2.
A lot is at stake in the country’s upcoming elections, says Akanmu Adebayo, director of Kennesaw State’s Center for Conflict Management (CCM), history professor and Nigerian native son. He will be returning to Nigeria Feb. 10 to participate as an official elections observer, on behalf of the Center and at the invitation of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission.
“The elections will take place amid tumbling oil prices and the upsurge of [those labeled as Islamist terrorists] Boko Haram,” Adebayo said. “Not only is the security situation worrisome, the future of Nigeria is at stake.”
In addition, Adebayo said, the 2015 elections are significant for Nigeria and its global partners.
“As an oil-producing country and as a U.S. partner in the fight against global terrorism, Nigeria’s political transitions should be of interest to Americans, and we should pay close attention to the outcomes of these elections,” he said.
In the 2015 election, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, representing the People’s Democratic Party, is seeking re-election to a second term. Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who represents the All Progressives Congress, is the leader among 13 other party candidates in the race for president. Nigerians also will elect members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
In his role as a CCM observer, Adebayo will be there — along with representatives of about 100 other national and international organizations invited to participate as observers — to help assure that Nigeria’s elections are “free, fair, credible and safe.” The CCM and Adebayo, who will be based in Lagos and Ibadan during the elections, will work collaboratively with six members of the Nigerian Society for Peace Studies and Practice to observe elections in five other states in the country’s north and east, including Kano, Benue, Bauchi, Edo and Imo. Observers will determine if elections are valid and make recommendations to the election management body.
Adebayo expects that several issues, including recent acts of terrorism and the political and religious divisions between the mostly Muslim North and the mostly Christian South, threaten the stability of Nigeria’s elections. Other observers have cited a botched governor’s race in Anambra State and the National Election Commission’s refusal to register the Socialist Party or to issue voter cards in several communities controlled by Boko Haram as further sources of tension.
“The security situation in several states under the siege of Boko Haram insurgents is worrisome,” said Adebayo, who was born in Iwo (Osun State) in southwesten Nigeria. “It is already unclear if voting will occur in such states because of fear of suicide bombing, and because many have either been kidnapped or fled their homes. Will Nigeria come out of this election as a nation, or will the process of regional and ethnic fission accelerate?”
As CCM director, Adebayo has been focused on issues pertaining to Nigerian leadership since 2011, in accordance with the Center’s mission to work locally and globally to promote peace and conflict resolution through research into peace and conflict issues; specialized training in conflict management skills; and public education through conferences, symposia and workshops. In addition to the CCM’s work, Kennesaw State also offers a Master of Science in Conflict Management and a Ph.D. in International Conflict Management.
In 2011, the Center conducted workshops on managing conflict in Africa’s elections and hosted members of Nigeria’s national electoral commission as keynote speaker. In addition, the CCM has trained up to 20 judges from across West Africa annually — most of them from Nigeria — in mediation and arbitration skills. As a result of that work, the CCM was invited to apply for observer status.
“We’re very pleased the Center for Conflict Management has been invited to observe these elections,” Adebayo said. “It advances our work with Nigeria and several other African countries in finding alternative, non-violent means to manage and resolve electoral violence and conflicts. It is our hope that we can make a positive impact on this testy, factious situation.”
— Sabbaye McGriff
Photo by Robert Anthony Stalcup
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.