Editor's Pick

Calm Before the Storm

2015 Nigerian Election

As of now, Lagos is peaceful. If it weren’t for the terrorism situation in the North – which Nigerians all place under the Boko Haram label – I would have said Nigeria, as a whole, is peaceful or as peaceful as this country could ever be.

So Lagos is tranquil, not in the quiet and standard way that people from other countries may associate with that word, but in the Lagosian way. The Christmas/New Year period is filled with activities which include: attending or hosting parties, visiting family and friends, indulging in sinful amounts of food, setting off “bangers” and fireworks that punctuate the days with loud, sudden noises, and of course, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in Christmas church and carol services held statewide.

However, behind the scenes of all the excitement of this period is a significant amount of maneuvering, all in preparation for the upcoming 2015 elections. Behind every smile, laugh and “Compliments of the season” is an underlying worry about the events that will arise as a result of the upcoming election in February. Gradually, the nation readies itself as it enters a new phase in its development and progress. At the same time, the nation is wrought with worry for the safety of its people as well as their pockets, since the economy will certainly be affected as well.

In the same way America is operated under a mostly two-party system, made up of the Democrats and Republicans, Nigeria has two main political parties: PDP which stands for People’s Democratic Party and APC which stands for All Progressive Congress. PDP was formed in 1999 and has retained the presidency for nearly 16 years. On the other hand, APC, which was formed recently in February 2013, is a coalition of three parties that formerly existed: ACN (the Action Congress of Nigeria), CPC (the Congress for Progressive Change) and ANPP (the All Nigeria Peoples Party). The members of these parties were politicians majorly from the North and Southwest of Nigeria who decided to form an alliance in order to address the problems in the country. In addition, politicians who defected from PDP, due to their disagreement with the management of the party and the fact that they felt sidelined, also constitute the members of APC.

Likewise, PDP and APC have their stronghold states, – states where they retain the power – similar to the red-belt and blue-belt states in America. As the two main political parties of Nigeria, PDP and APC will enter the brawl for presidency in the upcoming February elections.

As the commercial capital of Nigeria, Lagos is a major focal point in the upcoming elections. Currently, APC almost desperately wants to retain control over Lagos seeing that the current governor of Lagos is a member of the APC party. As the economic base, hub of all the movers and shakers and the poster-child for good governance, commercialization and modernization in Nigeria, Lagos is a major stronghold for the party. This is evident as Lagos helps in the management of APC in other states as it funds most of the party’s activities. As for PDP, their main concern lies in retaining the presidency and power – having been in control for nearly 16 years explains their anxiety. They are not willing to allow APC to snatch that power away from them. However, in order for these two parties to achieve their aims, they require the help of the voters. Nigerians though, are clamoring for change. Contrary to popular western belief of the “lodestar of Africa”, our economy is actually in a nosedive, corruption still stains the country, inefficiency and waste is at an all-time high and of course, there’s an increase in the threat of terrorism in the country thus the North (which has suffered the brunt of territory’s effects) is not pleased at all.

Due to the current political atmosphere, many people can predict what will probably happen this year. The year’s first quarter will be occupied with the election and its results. Violent outbursts are expected to take place around that time so many schools have decided to close during the month of February to ensure the safety of students and teachers. During the second quarter, disputes about the election results are expected to occur. This means weeks will be spent settling court cases as parties argue over the results. However, assuming things go according to plan, the inauguration is expected to take place on the 29th of May. Consequently, focus on the economy will drop, as everyone will be mainly concerned with who ends up becoming the President. This does not bode well for the economy. In fact, market analysts have already predicted which sectors of the economy will suffer over this year. During the third quarter of the year, the winner of the election will settle down into his position and will then start appointing his people in various positions within the government. During the third and last quarter of the year, the effects of neglecting the economy, in addition to the prior withdrawal of money from the economy to settle people for the election, will finally be revealed.

Non-politicians are hardly aware of the actions ensuing covertly in preparation for the election. As for me, the only conspicuous signs of the impending elections, that I am able to detect, are the plethora of posters that colour the walls everywhere I go. Dozens and dozens of posters of politicians with their staged smiles gaze at me as I drive around Lagos in my car.

Although non-politicians may be unaware of the behind-the-scenes action, this certainly has not stopped Nigerians from appointing themselves as commentators and pseudo-experts on the political atmosphere of Nigeria. From students of political science to citizens who were hardly ever interested in the gory details of politics, now everyone seems to know about Nigeria’s political situation. It has reached the point where at every function or soirée, conversations are centered on the events that will transpire this year. Anytime I turn on the radio, the chances are that every station I tune into will be discussing either the political or economic situation that Nigeria will be embroiled in this year. Perhaps you could even say that I am exhibiting the same behavior as many other Nigerians as I regale you with my knowledge of Nigerian politics.

I cannot determine what exactly will happen this year. Nevertheless, I do know that 2015 will be a defining year in the future of Nigeria and I can only pray that by the end of it, Nigeria comes out better, stronger and overall, safer.

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