John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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El-Rufai Comments on Nigeria’s Elections

by John Campbell
March 23, 2011

Former Nigerian Minister of the Federal Capital Territory El-Rufai speaks during his appearance at the Federal High court in Abuja. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, Nigeria’s former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, spoke at Chatham House last week. In his public remarks–“Nigerian Democracy and Prospects for the 2011 Elections”–El-Rufai demonstrates his cautious optimism for the April polls. The elections have the potential to be an “opportunity for reconciliation” and the start of myriad reforms. However, El-Rufai also suggests another possible outcome: if the 2011 elections experience the fraud of the 2003 and 2007 polls, then urban areas may witness large, potentially violent street protests. He said:

If INEC conducts decent elections next month, the link between politics and governance will be established and our democracy will begin to deliver real dividends… If the 2011 elections turn out to be as flawed as the those of 2003 or 2007, I do not think the opposition candidates have sufficient confidence in the Judiciary to take their complaints to the Courts. In fact one of them has publicly declared that he would not. In that case, the discontent will spread to the streets of the major urban centres. I predict massive protests in various parts of the country, as we have witnessed recently in Cote D’Ivoire and some countries in North Africa and the Middle East, until those that steal the elections vacate office.

In a forthcoming article on Foreign Affairswebsite, Asch Harwood and I formulate a not dissimilar argument about the outcomes of Nigeria’s elections. Like El-Rufai, we are somewhat optimistic about the prospects of a peaceful vote, and we also recognize the real possibility of violence.

Post a Comment 11 Comments

  • Posted by Ugo okeke Bertram

    I’m in consonant with Rufai. No confidence in the judiciary. Not at all and I will mobilize and join the protest.

  • Posted by Tajuddeen Abubakar

    The April 2011 elections is indeed going to be a defining moment in the history of Nigeria.One can’t but imagine the enthuthiasm and expectations from the public, its either free and fair elections ( and i mean, really free & fair) or people are ready to defend their votes at all cost!

  • Posted by Agbede emmanuel

    No excuses on inec’s part..A free nd fair election is our right as citizens of dis nation.

  • Posted by Tosin

    The election will come and go, it will be one of the best election in the history of Nigeria and the begining of change….

  • Posted by Abdul M., Japan

    Indeed, the very existence of Nigeria will be at stake in a fortnight. It is peaceful, free and fair elections or Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria all rolled into one!!! It’s up to us all to reclaim Nigeria from these criminals!!!

  • Posted by sadi k/mata

    Since we don’t have confidence on judiciary, that is why we the youth in Nigeria promise to depend our votes. PDP became our nightmare that is why we will use all the neccessary means in our possession i.e (BB,MMS e.t.c) to report any act of miscunduct during election. Thanks to the effort of Nigerian youth leader Malam Nasir El-Rufai for proving a web site address that we will use to post our greivenses and other sites like Sahara Reporters, Huhuonline and others. SADI

  • Posted by David Egbeama

    All politicians must excercise restraint and work for a free and fair poll as INEC alone can not assure a flawless election. The law enforcement agencies must be seen to be neutral and alive to their responsibilities. Both the government in power and every opposition party should refrain from ‘do or die’ politics. Nigeria should be given a chance to move forward in peace and harmony.

  • Posted by Timothy

    I wish I could share the optimism for free and fair elections in Nigeria. Unfortunately. the signals we are receiving point to the contrary. Why is the police forbiding the use of mobile phones and blackberries at polling stations? The opposition parties, civil society and the international community needs to take note because it is an indication that rigging has already been perfected. Mallam El-Rufai, you remember your statement that with about 20 million Blackberries it will be unfortunate for Jonathan to win the April elections?

  • Posted by Omogbolahan Babs

    There is no doubt that a repeat of what permeated the political scenery of the country in the early ’90s through late ’90s is imminent, that is even if if it does not turn out to be a REVOLUTION as it’s being experienced in some parts of Middle-East.
    From all indications, it appears INEC helmsman, prof. Attahiru Jega may not want to compromise for PDP, unlike his predecessor who sold his conscience and by extension truncated the future of his yet-to-be-born generation, prof. Maurice Iwu. I think Nigerians may be heaving a sigh of relief except for the Resident ElectoRAL Commissioners, some of whose integrity has a question mark!
    The PDP should know that they cannot continue to hold the country to ransom and any attempt to pervert justice this time around will be met with stiff opposition and even with our blood even if need be. God bless Nigeria

  • Posted by Vero Uwabor -Culley

    I agree in Mal El-rufai’s phypothesis. There is likelihood that supporters of oppositions who fails to win the Presidential TICKET are likely to cause violence. However I am hopefull that the government would Police and security agents who are working 24/7 would be able to control such vilence.
    I am also hopefull that the oppositions leaders would be in position of putting the interest of the country first before theirs. We do not want want is happening in some Arab countries to happen in ours. We have lived together for 50 years and are aware of the issues between North and South. The Northern public also understand that they need South as much as South need the North. They are also aware that Nigeria has been rulled by the North for most of 50years with the South supporting the North to do so. Why would the North not support the South and Vote Jonathan. The South urges the North to calm down in the interest of peace and support the SON of the South South whose oil wells has continued to feed Nigeria to date. The way the North are pursing this election is divisive and lacks sensitivity and we hope that this act does not lead it self to dividing the country known as Nigeria.
    From Vero Uwabor- Culley

  • Posted by Musa Rimaye

    Yes, Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai has spoken the truth. In fact, even before the election starts, violence is almost everywhere.
    It is our collective hope that those in authority would play the game of politics by the rules. Ballot box snatching and stuffing is not going to take us anywhere, and Nigerians in all works of lives are ardently in need of free, credible and fair elections this time around. Whoever the people vote for and emerge victorious should be congratulated and allowed to forge ahead towards building the much society where opportunity is open to all without consideration of place of birth, religion or ethnic background. May God help nigeria and Nigerians.

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