Three West African nations – Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone – are jostling to strengthen their fledgling democracies as they go to polls to elect new presidents in 2023. All three have a dark past of coups or civil wars.
Nigeria is scheduled to conduct its presidential election on February 25, and governorship and local polls on March 11. But the preparations have to constantly consider insecurity.
Its electoral commission says it is committed to ensuring a free, fair and credible election but is not too sure if the poll will be hitch-free.
The chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on January 7 warned that the elections are threatened by a spike in insecurity.
Yakubu says the election is highly important as a milestone in the country’s political dispensation and for the region. Yet bandits and terror merchants have been raiding every week.
Since 1999 Nigeria has successfully elected civilian leaders in a peaceful change of guard, the longest unbroken period of democratic rule since independence.
But a tough economic situation as well as insecurity – which the government claims is under control – have triggered a lot of interest in the political process.
There are growing armies of insurgents in the North East, bandits in the North West and North Central, militants in the South South, separatists in the South East and ritual killers in the South West.