Is it the end of the world?
2023 Politics + Strange World
I went on an unannounced break for two weeks. But thank you to everyone who sent emails to remind me of my sacred duty. 😊
This newsletter is about politics, economics, and culture in Nigeria. One way to show support is to share it with your people. Thank you.
2023 is here
Nigeria’s 2023 presidential elections seem to be taking shape after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the main opposition, chose not to zone its ticket to the South. All things equal, this means former Vice President and never-say-never presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is most likely to emerge as the party’s flag bearer in the elections.
On the other hand, the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), is expected to zone its candidate to the South since President Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner, would have completed two full terms by 2023.
That leaves two candidates from different regions going head to head in an election that many believe will be pivotal to Nigeria’s future.
I am not particularly excited about the presidential race. Of course, it is what will dominate the headlines and seize the attention of many. But with so many old faces involved and no viable third force, the politics, whoever wins, isn’t going to be revolutionary. And besieged by rising insecurity and worsening economic conditions, Nigeria sorely needs something to shift.
But I am optimistic about the country’s democracy. Amid a series of coups in West Africa, fears of a military incursion into Nigerian politics hasn’t surfaced, even if that is partly due to a co-opt of the top brass in the systemic corruption of the Nigerian state. Progressive laws like the amended electoral act and the proliferation of social media are also signs of subtle resistance against Nigeria’s age-old romance with tyranny and stagnation.
Maybe this fragile democracy has come to stay, but the road ahead remains a minefield.
Declare war on terrorists?
The Senate on Tuesday asked, again, the Executive to declare war on the terrorists killing and looting and carrying out abductions in many parts of the country. The information on this particular Senate resolution is quite vague, but I suspect the lawmakers were calling for the intensified bombing of terrorist enclaves. Some pastors in Kaduna are calling for the same thing, apparently inspired by Governor Nasir El-Rufai. I’m not sure if air raids and bombing entire communities will solve the insecurity problem. For one, many civilians will be caught in the crossfire. Two, there seems to be a distinct lack of understanding of how vast and rugged forests and the terrain of northern Nigeria are. There are people who say, oh, the military knows where these criminals are. Maybe they do know, but how specific is that intelligence?
I don’t know what the answer is (better actionable intelligence?), but one should be wary of taking military advice from politicians or the clerics who attend to them.
While China is now battling a Covid surge, Nigeria seems to be out of the woods. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported an average of 25 daily cases this month. This week, the federal government lifted a midnight curfew that had been in place since 2020. The outdoor use of masks and social distancing regulations have also been formally downgraded, even if Nigerians had long forgotten about them.
The official position remains that face masks should be worn for indoor activities. And those aged 60 and above, or with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, should continue to avoid crowds, frequently sanitise their hands, and observe the wearing of face masks, even for outdoor events.
Also, more people are getting vaccinated against the virus. 32 million, as of Monday. Have you taken the jab?
The federal government finally started asking telecommunication firms to disconnect phone lines that have not been linked to a national identification number. The notice has been on for years, but many Nigerians are yet to connect their phone lines for different reasons. My step-mum paid someone to help her with the national identity number registration, to avoid the long queues at the centres, but her phone line was disconnected. Apparently, the registration had not been properly done. Many disconnected Nigerians have the same problems.
Some have not linked their phone lines as a form of protest against the possible mismanagement of their personal data by the government. One hacker claimed to have stolen data off the government’s database in January, but the National Identity Management Commission denied the breach.
For security purposes, it is becoming standard practice for countries across the world to link phone lines to a standard identity document before it becomes operational. So the federal government’s policy is fantastic. But one hopes the issues with the national identity registration and data security are addressed.
End of the world?
For the first time since 1991, Muslims (Ramadan), Jews (Passover), Christians (Easter), Sikhs (Vaisakhi), Baha’is (Festival of Paradise), Hindus (Mahavir Jayanti), Buddhists (Theravada New Year) and Indigenous peoples in the US (Gathering of Nations) will observe holidays simultaneously in April.
I’m not sure if that holds any significance, but I chuckled when one of my favourite persons on Twitter, Andrew Alli, asked in a quote-tweet, “does it signify the end of the world being nigh?”
Human beings are wired to look for meaning in everything. It’s why we are so enamoured with patterns and signs. There you go.
In Zamfara, the Governor this week distributed brand new cars to 260 traditional rulers for being custodians of religion and culture, and for ensuring that there is peace in society. Some of the cars include the Cadillac 2019 model, estimated to cost upwards of $60,000 for a single unit. Traditional rulers should be appreciated (maybe with camels) but, no doubt, there are better ways to spend money in a state where 73 percent of households have no electricity and 79 percent of the population are ranked as poor.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend.