Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Battle for Nigeria is over? Updates on post-election news and blogger coverage.

The media buzz and the writing and commentary in the blogosphere about the Nigerian 2007 presidential, state, and parliamentary elections has been very intense over the past few days and I appreciate all of the new visitors to “Jewels” who have stopped by to read my two previous posts about these important elections. But Jewels in the Jungle is not the best place to be when it comes to the latest up-to-the-minute news and commentary about these elections.

My hands-down favorite post-election roundup has to be the article written yesterday by Global Voices Online regional editor for sub-Saharan Africa Ndesanjo Macha, “Blogs and the Nigerian elections”. Ndesanjo, who hails from Tanzania and lives and works in Massachusetts U.S.A., has covered the blogger buzz on the Nigerian elections so well that you really don’t need to search any further for news.

Sokari Ekine of the Black Looks blog pointed out in her comment here a few days ago that we should not forget to follow the editorials and articles about Nigeria published at the award-winning Pambazuka News website, where Sokari serves as the online news editor and as a regular columnist.

I would also like to remind my readers to follow the writing by professional and citizen journalists at the Nigeria Election Hotline, a free speech and online news project sponsored by the Open Society Institute and managed by veteran Africa journalists and media professionals such as Akwe Amosu, a former executive manager at allAfrica.com. For those readers who are not familiar with the pioneering online news website allAfrica.com, read this article about allAfrica.com’s founders and staff receiving the prestigious Africa-America Institute Media Award in Novermber 2001.

Melissa at Africa Media, a blog that focuses on how the traditional media and online journalists and bloggers cover news and feature stories from Africa, has published a new article titled Nigerian Elections: How come when Africans creatively use technology it isn’t news? Well Melissa, the German news magazine Der Spiegel did cover that angle of the Nigerian elections in their article titled “Nigeria: Wahlbeobachten per SMS”.


The NDI (National Democratic Institute for International Affairs), a Washington D.C. based non-profit organization that works together with civic and political leaders to advance democratic values and institutions worldwide, has published a preliminary report from the NDI international election observer delegation for Nigeria. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright headed the NDI delegation and was joined by some of the world’s most notable political figures:

“The delegation to the April 21 presidential and national assembly elections was led by: Madeleine Albright, Chairman of the NDI Board of Directors and former U.S. Secretary of State; Mahamane Ousmane, Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament and former President of Niger; Amos Sawyer, former President of Liberia; Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada; Jeanne Shaheen, Director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University and former Governor of New Hampshire; Justice Yvonne Mokgoro of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; and Kenneth Wollack, president of NDI. The delegation visited Nigeria from April 16 to 23 to assess preparations for, and observe, the 2007 general elections. The delegation included political and civic leaders, election experts and regional specialists from 16 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, as well as a team of long-term observers who, since March 15, have visited all six of the country's geo-political zones to observe the campaign period and the April 14 state elections.”

Comment from BRE: “Wow! That’s quite a lineup of respected world figures.”

The National Democratic Institute report opens with the following statements:

I. SUMMARY OF OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

In many places, and in a number of ways, the electoral process failed the Nigerian people. The cumulative effect of the serious problems the delegation witnessed substantially compromised the integrity of the electoral process. As a result, at this stage, it is unclear whether the April 21 elections reflect the will of the Nigerian people.

A major problem that marred this stage of the electoral process was that polling stations in many states opened hours late, closed early or failed to open at all. This represented a fundamental barrier to popular political participation and most likely disenfranchised many prospective voters. In all of the elections that NDI has observed in every region of the world, such a delay in the delivery of essential electoral material and in the opening of polling sites is unprecedented. The delegation also observed the additional electoral malpractices listed below. Similar electoral violations were cited by NDI's observer delegation to the 2003 national elections. Moreover, the pre-election period was characterized by the inability or refusal of the election authorities to release basic information about the electoral process to the contestants and the electorate.

You can read the full NDI report on the Nigerian elections at allAfrica.com or you can download a PDF file version at the NDI website. Don’t miss the NDI Nigeria Election Watch reports archive and be sure to visit the NDI iKnow Politics portal, an online international knowledge network to help women become more active and effective in politics and elections. Also please read this article about Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf addressing the opening of the African Democracy Forum in Monrovia.

BBC News online has been doing a very good job in keeping up with news about the elections and the post-election fallout. BBC News Have Your Say program has loads of comments from Nigerian citizens, ex-pats, and from readers worldwide.

CNN… where’s Jeff? Where the heck are Jeff Koinange’s Nigerian election reports? Well, I need to lighten’ up on Jeff because he is a good senior TV news correspondent and he has been “on the job” in Africa over the past few weeks. Where is he you ask? Jeff is down in South Africa dogging Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe. CNN has been “out of the running” on the Nigerian 2007 elections for some strange reason, but the new CNNI correspondent Isha Sesay has been doing her best to keep us in the know from inside Nigeria. CNNI fans and viewers will just have to wait for the next Inside Africa program this weekend to see any comprehensive reporting on Nigeria.

Lydia Polgreen of the New York Times has published a post-election report titled Nigeria Opposition Rejects Election Results and a related news analysis article titled Africa’s Crisis of Democracy. I advised readers in an earlier post that Lydia is an up-and-coming journalist to watch and she is all over the continent of Africa often reporting from places where the Boyz fear to tread.

Germany’s newspaper Die Zeit online has a very good article about the elections titled Das Egal der Wahl (translation - The Irrelevance of the Vote). Die Zeit online also has an editors' blog (Kosmoblog) with a mixture of English and German news articles and posts that you may find interesting.

The German language version of Der Spiegel magazine has run a series of articles about the Nigerian elections, a few of which I have listed below:
Mindestens 200 Tote bei Nigeria-Wahl, 23.04.07
Nigeria: Wahlen im Chaosland, 21.04.07
Nigeria: Wahlbeobachten per SMS, 20.04.07
Energienotstand in Nigeria: Öldorado geht der Strom aus, 27.03.07

Der Spiegel magazine’s international edition (English) on the other hand has practically ZERO coverage about these important elections and instead is focusing on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s renewed efforts to push the G8 to live up to its Africa aid pledges made back at the G8 Summit of 2005 in Gleneagles, Scotland. The international edition of Der Spiegel online uses American and British staff members to translate and edit articles from the magazine’s German-speaking writers and editors.

Note: A good watchdog blog that tracks German media coverage of U.S. and international affairs is David’s Medienkritik, authored by David Kaspar and Ray D. See their blogroll for Germany and Europa-based blog authors writing in both German and English.


My colleague Jörg Wolf of the Atlantic Review blog also has a good blogroll listing German and European blogs that may be covering these elections. I invite our German-speaking readers and fellow blog authors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to help us out a bit by pointing to comprehensive and interesting coverage of the Nigerian 2007 elections in your national press, broadcast news media, and in the blogosphere.


Related news and reports about the elections:

Nigerian and African daily newspapers online
Vanguard, This Day, allAfrica.com - Nigeria

SABC News (South Africa Broadcasting Corporation)
Nigeria’s Yar’Adua gets SA backing, defends poll win

NPR – National Public Radio (U.S.A.)
Nigerian vote beset by chaos, tension (audio)

VOA News (Voice of America, U.S. Department of State)
NDI election monitors issue initial findings on Nigeria presidential vote (audio)

The Huffington Post – the Blog
The Nigerian elections and the U.S.: the High Price of April Fools

The Daily Kos (home of the Kossacks!)

Black Kos week in Review – April 13, 2007 (see The Battle for Nigeria)

Aljazeera (international edition) coverage of the Nigerian elections 2007

Topix.net – World News – Nigerian elections

France 24 - Africa – Nigeria – Discontent over “flawed” election

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4 comments:

imnakoya said...

The E.U report on the election can be found here:
http://www.eueom-ng.org/

(it seems the site has some bandwidth problem at the moment)

Black River Eagle said...

Thanks Imnakoya. You're right, that EUEOM-NG site seems to be down. Following is the official statement from the EU Presidency office on the Nigerian elections:

Germany 2007 - Presidency of the European Union
http://www.eu2007.de/en/index.html

22.04.2007

EU Presidency statement on the elections in Nigeria

The Presidency has noted with concern reports of irregularities and of the use of violence in some regions of Nigeria during the presidential and parliamentary elections yesterday (Saturday).

These incidents have given rise to concerns that not all Nigerians entitled to vote really were able to do so freely and without fear.

The Presidency will carefully examine the final report of the EU election observers as well as of the EU Embassies. The Presidency calls upon the Nigerian Government to ensure that there are no doubts abut the credibility of the election results.

_____ENDE

The EU Presidency is headed by Germany under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel. As you can see the EU Presidency is being very, very cautious about offending the government of a potentially major oil and gas supplier to Germany and the EU. The EU Nigerian election observer mission was much more direct and honest in their preliminary statements. We shall wait and see what the EU observer mission says in their final report.

Black River Eagle said...

BTW: Here are the URL's to the upcoming G8 Summit to be held under the leadership of Germany in Heiligendamm (former East Germany). As you may note Afrika is at the top of the German agenda, or so they say...

G8 Summit 2007 at Heiligendamm

English language site
http://www.g-8.de/Webs/G8/EN/Homepage/home.html

German language site
http://www.g-8.de/Webs/G8/DE/Homepage/home.html

Black River Eagle said...

One of Nigeria's major newspapers the Daily Trust has about the best roundup I've read so far on what various international election observer missions has to report. Below is the URL to the article at allAfrica.com with statments from the Chief EU mission observer Max van den Berg and other heads of observer missions:

allAfrica.com (Daily Trust)
Nigeria: Elections fraudulent - EU and others
http://allafrica.com/stories/200704240290.html

Daily Trust (Abuja)
NEWS
April 24, 2007
Posted to the web April 24, 2007

By Nasidi Adamu Yahaya and Charles Onunaiju
Abuja

The international community has slammed the elections yesterday, calling them among the worst the world has ever seen.

In strongly worded statements, delegations from the European Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the United States' National Democratic Institute said the elections were not credible.

In Washington the U.S. state department said it was "deeply troubled" by reports of violence and vote rigging.

At a news conference held at the ECOWAS secretariat in Abuja, former president of Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara said the ECOWAS identified problems at all stages of the election. He said: "Irregularities and the sporadic violence chara-cterised and challenged the validity of the elections."

Madeline Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State said the polls "failed the Nigerian People." The result was a "step backwards" for Nigerian democracy, she said.

Chief EU observer Max van den Berg said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the elections and that they had released "their toughest ever statement about an election", a diplomatic way of saying they are the worst the EU has seen.

But observers stopped short of calling for a re-run of the elections or asking the international community to sanction the government. "EU states must work with Nigeria, rather than turn our backs and say 'bye bye'," Mr Berg said.

In the U.S, a White House national security spokesman said: "We had urged free and fair elections, and I'm not sure that is exactly what the people of Nigeria got."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that while Washington was still awaiting assessments from U.S. and other international monitors who observed the elections, it was already evident the vote was marred by irregularities.

"Clearly these were flawed elections, I think that even the initial reports would give people confidence in saying that," McCormack said.

But president-elect Umar Musa Yar'Adua said yesterday: "I believe that is an opinion that is not based on fact. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some others believe that this is the best election the country has ever had. These statements need to be seen in the context of Nigeria's past elections. To compare it to past American elections would be unfair."

INEC chief Maurice Iwu said he gave the election a "pass mark". He acknowledged there had been some "irregularities", but said the election was "80 per cent successful". But Mr Berg said INEC had recorded results that didn't make sense mathematically. He called them "magical results".

Mrs Albright urged Nigerians to go to the courts. She said: "Nigerians should hurry to the courts and use this five week period to effect what they can. Nigerians should exhaust all the legal processes at this stage."

The NDI and the EU delegations said the Nigerian people needed to take steps to correct the situation.

Mr Berg, who observed elections in Nigeria in 2003, blamed INEC and the presidency for the flawed election. He said: "These elections were marred by poor organisation, lack of essential transparency, widespread procedural irregularities, and significant evidence of fraud and lack of equal conditions for contestants." He accused the presidency of manipulating Independent National Electoral Commission by holding on to its power of appointing commissioners.

He said: "In 78 per cent of polling stations observed during the opening essential polling materials were missing especially polling booths and ballot papers. A number of elections could not be held since INEC did not print and provide the correct ballots," he said.

Mr. Berg explained that presidential ballot papers were without serial numbers and insufficient qualities were delivered in many parts of the country. "In eastern Benue state no presidential ballot paper were delivered and in Ebonyi and Abia states presiding officers only received 46 per cent of the required number", he said.

In order for citizens of Nigeria to have trust and confidence in the political and electoral process, "urgent remedial action" was needed, he said.

The National Democratic Institute [NDI] recommended comprehensive results for each polling unit be released by INEC and published, to allow people to know the true nature of their election. Mrs Albright said: "The inability to track election results from the polling station to a national level is a major weakness." ...

At a press conference in Abuja the NDI said there were incidents of improper conduct by security agents, stuffing and snatching of ballot boxes, intimidation by party agents and vote buying.

Mrs Albright said: "In all of the elections that NDI has observed in every region of the world, such a delay in the delivery of essential electoral material and in the opening of polling sites is unprecedented." They said in many places the electoral process failed the Nigerian people and compromised the integrity of the government.

They also urged election tribunals, contesting parties and INEC to cooperate in order to ensure the speedy judicial resolution of complaints, paying attention to their responsibility to give voice to Nigerian voters and address issues which adversely affected Nigerians....