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Only the Youths Can Salvage Nigeria Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jide Keye, Nigeria May 20, 2003
Human Rights  
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The last elections in Nigeria have confirmed, once again, that only the working people and the youths are capable of uniting the students and youths across the country and prevent the descent of the country into an ethnic andjor political parties, the PDP, ANPP and AD in various parts of the country. While President Olusegun Obasanjo has been declared re-elected for a second term, his ruling PDP has increased its National Assembly seats and state governorship positions. While the second biggest major party, the ANPP, lost the presidential election, it still gains control of seven state governments while the AD government of Bola Tinubu has been re-elected in Lagos State.

The only major ray of hope for the working class, students and youths in these elections was the significant result achieved by the radical National Conscience Party (NCP) led by Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the renown human rights activist lawyer.

However, while the politicians in PDP, ANPP, AD and a few other major parties may be celebrating their so-called victory, the entire elections and its outcome portend grave danger to the survival of civil rule and in the long run, the existence of Nigeria. Above all, the result of the elections have prepared the ground for further attacks on the rights and the already deplorable living standard of the youths and students by the politicians in the next four years.


Rather than being a consolidation of democracy, as it is being described by military apologists both within and outside Nigeria, these elections have actually underlined the inherent instability of Nigeria. Firstly, rather than performance in office or party programme, ethnic consideration was the major factor that determined the result of the elections. For example, it was the thinking that Obasanjo, a Yoruba, should get a second term, that led to the victory of Obasanjo's PDP in the Yoruba south west.

It was equally the same parochial consideration that was responsible for the further gains which the ANPP whose presidential candidate is General Mohammadu Buhari, a Hausa-Fulani, made in the core Hausa-Fulani part of north. In the same manner, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, the APGA presidential candidate, received most of his votes from people of the Igbo nationality.

In other words, four years of civil rule has not been able to ameliorate ethnic and religious divisions in the country. On the contrary, ethnic and religious feelings have been on increase. In the past four years alone, over ten thousand people have reportedly been killed in ethnic and religious conflicts.

Secondly, the election have been characterised by massive electoral manipulations, rigging and vote buying. Lacking any serious programme they could sell to the electorate, all the major political parties have spent billions of naira not just on campaigns but in direct and indirect bribery of voters. And though generally more peaceful than some previous elections, these elections have been characterised by violence in many areas resulting in killing of scores of people.


The re-election of these self-serving major elements can only lead to the continuation if not the acceleration of the numerous attacks on the living standards and democratic rights of workers and youth of the past four years. Already, President Obasanjo has indicated that the prices of fuel are to be increased again, a measure which will lead to more hardship for the people. In addition, with the billions of naira which the various individuals and factions within the loooters class have spend on these elections, an exacerbation of looting of public treasury both by the capitalist politicians themselves and their private contractor supporters should be expected. Uplifting the living standards of the masses and improving education, health, housing, roads and other basic necessities will be the last consideration of these capitalist vampires. Under these circumstances, more and more people will become alienated and civil rule will be further discredited. The result will be deepening of ethnic and religious divisions and conflicts which will make the sectarian violence of the past 4 years look like a child's play.


Only if the student union movement and the NGOs can provide an alternative socio-economic alternative and a working class political platform completely different from those of the political parasites can the catastrophe outlined above be averted.

As we in the MOSHOOD ABIOLA VANGUARD FOR DEMOCRACY often explain, Nigeria's huge human and material resources, the abundant fertile land and minerals, etc, are more than enough to guarantee decent living for all through the payment of adequate living wages to lecturers so that students will go back to campus and the provision of free and qualitative education, free healthcare, cheap and decent housing, full employment and welfare benefits for the unemployed, the sick and the elderly. What makes this impossible and condemns the masses to perpetual poverty and misery is the politicians that does not care about ther resumption of students back on campus.As a result, the system enriches a small minority at the expense of the larger society; it turns a few into millionaires while condemning millions into a life of poverty and destitution.

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