Article written

  • on 01.06.2014
  • at 05:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Nigeria: What Effect Will Boko Haram Have on Elections? 0

In recent weeks, the ongoing political battle between the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its opposition rival, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has largely taken a backseat in Nigeria. Instead, all eyes are fixed on Boko Haram and how the government is addressing it.

Although the Islamist militant group has not succeeded in attacking more high-profile targets since 2011 − when it bombed the United Nations building in Abuja and the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters − it has significantly increased its assaults on soft targets and civilians. This year alone, Boko Haram has reportedly killed over 2,000 people; last month it bombed a busy bus station on the fringes of the capital; and it is continues to hold hostage over 200 schoolgirls abducted from the town of Chibok.

Boko Haram and the elections

Aside from the deeply tragic consequences of the group’s violent activities, Boko Haram’s operations could also affect Nigeria’s political environment and the running of the upcoming 2015 elections in various ways.

To begin with, the ongoing violence in the North-East could pose a serious risk to the very conduct of the general elections. Many people have been displaced, the conflict could prevent a daunted population from coming out to cast their ballots, and the instability could simply make it logistically impossible for election officials to do their jobs. There have been some calls for the federal government to take a strong militaristic tack and impose a full state of emergency, but for now President Goodluck Jonathan has stuck with extending emergency rule for another six months.

He may have reason to be cautious. After all, the insecurity in the north has also affected Jonathan’s perception amongst voters. His government has come under severe criticism for its handling of the security situation and the President’s approval rating is at an all-time low of 49%. This discontent suggests he may face difficulties if he runs for re-election next year, an ambition that would also put him in a precarious position with many powerful figures from northern states. Even Jonathan’s bid to extend emergency rule has been criticised by some regional stakeholders on the basis that it has achieved little so far.

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By Dawn DimowoThink Africa Press 

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi