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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Nigeria: Election Monitoring, 1

Nigeria: Election Monitoring, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 990218
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains a brief update from the Africa Fund and announcements from several of the many monitoring teams that will be observing the Nigerian presidential elections on February 27. The next posting oontains an interim report from the Transition Monitoring Group in Nigeria on the state-level elections in January. For a convenient timetable of the election process and a summary of results, see the Nigerian Drum Messenger web site ( For additional news updates see Africa News ( Web sites of the two presidential candidates are, for PDP candidate Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) ( and, for AD/APP candidate Chief Olu Falae (> - page no longer available 10/99 -).

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Africa Fund
50 Broad Street, Suite 711,
New York, NY 10004
Tel: (212) 785-1024 Fax: (212) 785-1078
Web Site:

Nigeria Transition Watch
Report Number 2
January 27, 1999

Oil Fields Crisis Mars Second Round of Voting Forcing Postponement of Governors Elections in Two States

The deepening political crisis in the oil-rich Niger River Delta marred the second round of elections in Nigeria's step-by-step transition from military to civilian government on January 9. In the wake of the shooting deaths of as many as 60 unarmed environmental protesters in Bayelsa State by troops in late December and early January, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) postponed gubernatorial elections in the state and ordered new elections in Rivers State, another tense oil producing region.

Hundreds of people were wounded in the confrontations and human rights monitors report that harassment of environmental and community activists demanding an end to poverty and pollution in the Delta is continuing. In one incident on December 30, troops shot and bayoneted to death three youthful members of the minority Ijaw people at a peaceful demonstration to demand the withdrawal of foreign oil companies from the area. The troops then broke into nearby houses and shops and assaulted and arrested the terrified occupants. Although a state of emergency in the state was lifted in early January, a ban on protests and public gatherings remains in effect.

Protests and Repression Increase But Polls Proceed

The killings and the deployment of thousands of soldiers and police in the area were intended to end months of occupations of oil production facilities by youthful members of the minority Ijaw people, whose traditional lands account for some 70 percent of Nigeria's annual oil production. The occupations began in the summer of 1998 and have reduced Nigerian oil output by fully a third. The occupations and the sharp fall in oil prices over the past year have caused a major financial crunch for the Abubakar government and reportedly sparked demands from the major Western oil companies for tough government action to end the protests and restore full production.

Clashes between protesters and security forces erupted in other parts of Nigeria in January as well. In Lagos five people were shot and killed by troops at a demonstration against sharp rises in fuel prices ordered by the government. In Lagos and other parts of the country soldiers attacked civil servants protesting the withdrawal of a promised pay increase, arresting and assaulting dozens more.

Nigerian political observers comment that the increasing protests and violent government responses, coming even as the army adheres to its transition timetable, reflect the limitations of the transition exercise and the disconnect between the formal political process and the urgent economic and social problems confronting the country. To date none of the parties has issued an election platform, a political manifesto, or even named a Presidential candidate -- making it impossible to make policy distinctions among parties and reducing the election to a contest of personalities. Human rights monitors note that the Abubakar government has refused to repeal such repressive measures as Decree 2, which allows for indefinite detention without charge or trial, and other decrees that remove government decisions from judicial scrutiny. They fear that the incoming government will be more beholden to the army than to the electorate and thus unable to enact the sweeping changes needed to address the economic crisis, end corruption and restore a sense of nationhood among Nigeria's brutalized and badly divided citizens.

Innocent Chukwuma, a leading human rights activist and member of the non-governmental Transition Monitoring Group, told Transition Watch that, "the transition comes down from the military and is not democratic. The government that results will not be the beginning of democracy, but the last act of the dictatorship. Our hope is that the new government will then commit itself to a genuinely democratic transition program that engages and empowers the people and to elections free of military manipulation. Only then can we speak of democracy in Nigeria."

Military-Linked Party Emerges as Frontrunner

Against this backdrop, gubernatorial elections proceeded on schedule on January 9 in the other states. The People's Democratic Party (PDP), the frontrunner in local government elections in December, consolidated its hold on the lead by winning 20 of the 35 contested governorships. The All People's Party (APP) came in second with 9 while the Alliance for Democracy (AD) took six states.

Since its launch last Fall, the PDP has emerged as the clear favorite of the army, with over 100 retired senior military officers in its ranks and a much larger campaign war chest than its rivals. The party's likely Presidential nominee, former head of state General Olesegun Obasanjo, enjoys close ties to the Nigerian army and to former dictator Ibrahim Babangida. Although Obasanjo is widely respected in the United States and Europe, he is less popular in his nominal ethnic base among the Yoruba people -- losing the election for a local council seat in his home village in December.

Turnout in the state elections remained disturbingly low, with only between 20 -30 percent of registered voters participating. The low turnout, monitors say, is another indication of the absence of popular support for the current transition. The TMG report on the second round of elections follows [in the next posting].

Distributed by The Africa Fund 50 Broad Street, Suite 711 New York, NY 10004 (212) 785-1024 fax: (212) 785-1078 E-mail:

The Africa Fund

Africa Fund Announces Establishment of Leadership Commission To Monitor Nigerian Elections, Desmond Tutu to Chair

Contact: Mike Fleshman (212) 785-1024
February 1, 1999

The New York-based Africa Fund announced today the establishment of a U.S. Leadership Commission on the Nigerian Transition. The Commission, comprised of prominent U.S. civil and human rights, religious and trade union leaders, will monitor the ongoing transition from military dictatorship to civilian government in Nigeria and work to ensure that the process is free and fair. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigation into apartheid-era human rights abuses, has agreed to serve as the honorary Chair of the Leadership Commission.

Nigeria began its third attempt in 14 years to move from military to civilian rule this summer following the sudden deaths of both Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha and the unjustly imprisoned President-elect Moshood Abiola. Abiola won a free and fair Presidential election in 1993 only to see the army annul the vote and install General Abacha in power. Abiola was later arrested and held without trial for refusing to surrender his mandate, dying in prison in July 1998. Decades of brutal and increasingly corrupt military domination have impoverished the oil rich west African nation of 100 million and exacerbated ethnic, religious and sectional divisions.

The Commission's membership includes Julian Bond, Chair of the NAACP; Reverend Joan Campbell, Secretary General of the National Council of Churches; Congressional Representatives Maxine Waters and Donald Payne; Rabbi David Saperstein of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; Bernice Powell-Jackson, the head of the United Church of Christ's Commission on Racial Justice; Rev. Dr. Bennett W. Smith, past President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins; International Human Rights Law Group Director Gay McDougall, and Robert Wages, Executive Vice President of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE). The Commission is working closely with the non-governmental Nigerian Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of over 50 indigenous human rights and pro-democracy groups.

"Too often in the past the generals have promised to restore democracy only to deliver more dictatorship," said Africa Fund Executive Director Jennifer Davis. "The purpose of the Commission is to help ensure that this time the army follows through on its promise to withdraw from power and that the transition itself is credible and fair. "

"We are enormously grateful to the Commissioners for agreeing to join in this initiative. The Commission sends a clear message of American public support for the return of democracy. That message is important because the U.S. buys nearly half of the annual oil exports that Nigeria's military rulers depend on. That influence should be used to promote and protect the human and civil rights of the Nigerian people."

The transition formally began in December 1998 with the first of four elections for local and state offices leading to presidential elections on February 27, with installation of the civilian government scheduled for May 29. Nigerian human rights groups have called the transition blueprint undemocratic, noting that it was imposed by the military without consultation with democracy leaders and that the government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar has refused to repeal such repressive legislation as Decree Number Two, allowing for the indefinite detention without charge or trial of political opponents.

A deepening crisis in the oil producing Niger River Delta region of southern Nigeria forced postponement of elections for state legislatures and governors in January, following the shooting deaths of as many as 50 people protesting environmental pollution, economic exploitation and political marginalization. Occupations of oil production facilities in the region, while largely peaceful, have cut Nigeria's daily oil output by a third in recent months, fueling fears of massive state violence against protesters to restore full production. Nigerian human rights activists fear that a generalized conflict in the Niger Delta over oil could be used by hardline generals to abort the transition and prolong military rule.

The commission is made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


International Foundation for Election Systems

African Delegation to Observe National Elections in Nigeria

February 16, 1999

ABUJA, NIGERIA - The following document was released by the International Foundation for Election Systems: In response to Nigeria's invitation to international election observers, a 12-person delegation from the Association of African Election Authorities (AAEA) and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) will arrive in Nigeria today to observe the nation's National Assembly elections on February 20.

A 28-member AAEA/IFES delegation will also observe the February 27 presidential election. The AAEA is a membership organization of election administrators and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGO) from sub-Saharan Africa, dedicated to the professionalization of election administration. IFES, a Washington, DC-based NGO, provides nonpartisan assistance to develop or refine election systems in emerging and established democracies around the world. The AAEA and IFES also observed the local government and state-level elections in December and January in Nigeria.

"As African election officials and election experts with vast, practical experience in the administration of elections, the AAEA/IFES delegation is unique," noted Dr. K. Afari-Gyan, Executive Secretary of the AAEA and Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana. He added, "Our sustained involvement in Nigeria demonstrates a long-term commitment to supporting transparent and credible elections in Nigeria."

Led by Dr. K. Afari-Gyan, delegates on the AAEA/IFES mission to the February 20 elections include the following AAEA members:

  • Benin: Francis Oke, Consultant, GERDDES-Benin
  • Ghana: Angela Neeguaye, Electoral Commission
  • Liberia: Paul N. Guah, Chairman, Elections Commission
  • Uganda: Flora Nkurukenda, Deputy Chairperson, Electoral Commission; Lino Musana, Electoral Commission
  • Zimbabwe: Mabel Sikhosana, Deputy Director, ZimRights

Also participating in the mission are the following IFES representatives: Simon Clarke, Program Manager/Nigeria; Kendall Dwyer, Projects Coordinator/Nigeria; Susan Palmer, Program Officer, IFES/Washington; Valeria Scott, Program Assistant, IFES/Washington; and Caroline Vuillemin, Program Assistant, IFES/Washington.

Additional AAEA members and IFES representatives will join the delegation for the presidential election on February 27. AAEA/IFES observers of the February 27 elections will include additional election officials such as Samuel Kivuitu, Chairman of the Election Commission of Kenya, and Cheikh Gueye, Director-General of Elections in Senegal.

IFES will maintain its presence in Nigeria after the February elections to continue to monitor the ongoing electoral process and the transition to the elected government. IFES and AAEA activities in Nigeria are supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Further information on AAEA and IFES activities in Nigeria, as well as information on the Nigerian elections, can be found on the IFES website at

CONTACT: Torie Keller/Washington, +1-202-828-8507 Susan Palmer/Abuja, +234-9-523-1811 x164 Susan Palmer/Lagos, +234-1-497-8661 x140; IFES 1101 15th Street, NW Suite 300 Washington, DC USA +1-202-828-8507 phone +1-202-452-0804 facsimile

The Carter Center

Carter Center-NDI Announce Election Observation Delegation

February 16, 1999

Atlanta - The following document was released by The Carter Center: Former U.S. President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter will be joined by General Colin Powell and former Niger President Mahamane Ousmane as co-leaders of a 60-member international delegation to be deployed by The

Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) to the Feb. 27 presidential election in Nigeria. The delegation will include political leaders, election experts, and regional specialists from 10 countries in Africa, Asia, and North America. The Carter Center and NDI have had staff stationed in Nigeria since early December to observe all phases of the electoral process. Earlier delegations were deployed to local elections in December and state elections in January. A 15-person delegation to the Feb. 20 National Assembly election begins arriving in Lagos tomorrow.

"We are honored that the Independent National Electoral Commission and the major parties invited us to participate in this crucial moment in Nigeria's history," said President Carter. "We are here to support and strengthen Nigerians' desire for democracy, evaluate the electoral process, and learn from it. While we hope our presence will reinforce the process, it is the Nigerian people who will judge the meaning of the elections and the success of this transition."

Carter Center-NDI observers to the presidential election will deploy from Lagos to 24 states in Nigeria beginning Thursday, Feb. 25, to meet with local election officials and party representatives the day before voting commences. On election day, delegates will visit as many polling sites as possible in their areas to witness poll openings, voter accreditation, voting, vote counting, and ballot box delivery, as well as to talk with citizens and officials about the electoral process. After the election, observers will reconvene in Abuja to discuss their findings and issue a preliminary statement.

"This election is a critical step in the transition to civilian rule. We are hopeful that Nigerians will have confidence in the process and that they will turn out to vote in large numbers on election day," said General Powell, former chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

EDITORS NOTE FOR PLANNING PURPOSES: A detailed advisory of opportunities for media to cover the Carter Center-NDI observer mission will be issued by Wednesday, Feb. 24.

These opportunities are expected to include: an arrival statement by President Carter and President Ousmane on Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Abuja Hilton; a photo opportunity with delegation leaders at a polling site in Abuja on election day, Saturday, Feb. 27; and a press conference to issue the delegation's findings, tentatively scheduled for Monday, March 1, at the Abuja Hilton. All media participating in Carter Center-NDI press opportunities will be required to have press credentials recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Contact: Deanna Congileo Carter Center in Atlanta 404-420-5108 In Abuja, Robert LaGamma, Sheraton Abuja 234-9-523-0225 Room 334 In Lagos, Shari Bryan, Sheraton Lagos 234-1-497-8660 Room 530

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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