Saturday 16 June 2018


Dr. Carl LeVan, Associate Professor in the School of International Service, American University, Washington DC shared the findings in his new book: 'Nigeria's Party competition during a time of transition and terror' in Abuja under the auspices of Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD). He highlighted the following:

*Empirical information on why the PDP lost the Presidency in 2015 for the very first time since 1999. The PDP also lost many seats in the House of Representatives, Senate and many of the governorship seats.
*The role of the elite in the 1999 transition.
*He challenges conventional thinking about Boko Haram's (BH's) impact on politics. Research on terrorism and voters.
*1998/1999 transition deals and their decline.
*Summary of findings on Political Parties.
*Hypotheses testing on: National insecurity/Electronic voting.
*Analysis and implications of why voters choose who they vote for.
*What the Political Parties talked about in the 2015 campaigns.
*How the economy affects voters' choices at the polls.

Some of the research questions were:

*Why did the PDP lose and why did APC win in 2015?
*What was the elite agreement?
*What did the Political Parties say?
*What did voters vote for? His sample was approximately 4,000.
*Dr. LeVan travelled from Abuja to Yola, from Port-Harcourt to other eastern parts.


*APC and PDP talked about different things in their campaigns. Across states, economic conditions were more important than any other parameters.
*People voted on the economy, but ethnicity was also important.
*Religion had a stronger influence than expected.

Context & civilian concessions:

*In 1998, dictator, General Sanni Abacha died.
*There was a pact with the PDP for a Yoruba Presidential candidate. This was a way of paying for 1993 and 1979.
*Symbolism of June 12, 1993.
*Rotaton of power between the north and the south.
*PDP's dual policy on civil-military relations.
*Oputa Commission - A Commission that generated neither truth nor much reconciliation.

Under Obasanjo, there was significant increase in the Military budget in spite of the fact that there were fewer soldiers. Military promotions were announced May, 2003. These occurred three weeks before Obasanjo took office. Towards the 2015 elections, there was a slow erosion of the 1999 pact. By 2011, there were fewer candidates with Military background. The 'power shift' principle was violated in 2010/11 when a southerner unexpectedly became President.


*The population in Nigeria is younger on the average, but the average age of the gladiators has increased. This is a major source of tension between the young and the old.
*Traumatic events/issues such as terrorism hurt incumbent Political Parties (Hunter, 2016).
*Terrorism contributes to ideological polarisation (Nanes, 2016).
*Political Parties appeal mainly to core supporters (Kibris, 2011).
*Terrorism has generalised effect on preferences - even if regionally concentrated, it's a national issue.
*Voters closer to violence are more likely to vote for hard line right Political Parties (Getmansky Zeit Zoff, 2014).
 *Citizens are more interested in politics because of terrorism.
*The difference between PDP and APC campaigns in 2015: PDP - Economy and corruption?; APC: Economy, anti-corruption, security and electoral integrity. The fact that their campaigns were fairly different was indeed novel!
*We need to interrogate the issue of age and performance in office.
*Voters prioritised public safety/security because of the high level of violence.
*A number of factors could affect hypothesised outcomes at the State level: State debt, internally-generated revenue (IGR), level of violence, literacy level and average income. Surprisingly, the insignificant variables are: turnout during elections, ethnic group, and gender.
*Terrorism stimulates polarisation.
**States that are in debt vote more for the incumbent Party.
*Levels of violence are not good predictors of election results.
 *PDP maintained their base by stoking fear about what could happen if there was regime change.

On the whole, Dr. Carl LeVan's analysis debunked many hitherto held perceptions about elections, the electorate, politicians, political parties, competition and transition in Nigeria. It was a time for invited younger scholars to interact with the paper presenter after the lecture. Older academics like me facilitated the exchange of ideas... 

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