, 12 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
I’ve seen a lot of commentary to the effect that violence and inconclusive elections in the 2019 cycle is evidence that #Nigeria is witnessing a democratic regression. I understand this feeling, but strongly disagree. #NigeriaDecides #Thread
This narrative is mostly driven by two factors: (1) the sense that 2015 was a watershed because an incumbent lost (this was a big deal!) and (2) the larger number of inconclusive elections in the 2019 cycle.
2015 *was* indeed a watershed. The introduction of the smart card readers made it much harder to manipulate voting outcomes than it had been in the past and helped Buhari unseat the then incumbent. That was a huge deal and a big positive for #Nigeria’s democracy.
But to say that 2019 is a step backwards is to posit that violence & voter fraud was objectively *worse* than 2015. This is inaccurate. GEJ/PDP presided over months of brutal violence against APC members in #Rivers in run-up 2015 elections. Similar dynamics in Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom.
In Ekiti, PDP used state security services to restrict movement by the state governor and other APC leaders on election day. I could go on and on - Osun, Kano, etc. There are many such examples.
Now, *any* violence that prevents people from exercising their civic duty is unacceptable. Nothing justifies this behavior by either party. It is also unfortunate that we continue to witness similar logistical problems, with late arrival of materials and staff to voting booths.
But there are lots of reasons to resist the argument that 2019 is a step backwards for #Nigeria’s democracy. It is easy to allow the huge positive fact of an incumbent’s loss in 2015 to overshadow the very serious violence and other challenges witnessed in that electoral cycle.
I would argue that, like 2015, 2019 is a watershed for #Nigeria. Smart card usage has vastly improved (6mill votes were not accredited by SCR in 2015), voting process also improved (eg being able authenticate then immediately vote vs having to *return* to polling units in 2015)..
..and there was true competition across the board in 2019 with more incumbents losing seats around the country and much closer victory margins.
I have and will continue to condemn the violence we’ve seen Nigerian elections. But reform is *always* a hard process and can feel like 2 steps forward and one step back. The process has improved. The violence has not.
Ultimately, this is still #Nigeria, and you cannot evaluate the 2019 elections in a vacuum - especially if you are implicitly comparing it to the past - it must be viewed in the #Nigerian context. So let’s acknowledge progress made while continuing to advocate for more.
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