Friday 21 September 2018


For the first time in Nigeria's history, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would be piloting a braille ballot guide (BBG) to assist voters with visual impairment to cast their ballot without any support in line with Section 56(2) of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended and Nigeria's secret ballot system. The Access Nigeria Campaign and its ally, NAPVID, worked closely with INEC to design and produce the guide.

As a Conflict Transformation Expert, I am glad about this development. The more we include disadvantaged groups in the electoral process, the more inclusive the polity becomes. The society is deemed to have more empathy as a result. INEC also plans to make polling booths accessible to PLWDs in the 2019 general elections. When more vulnerable groups are accommodated, there is less agitation from many quarters, which could lead to peace in the society. Perception of the electorate as regards inclusion matters a great deal...

The test run for the guide would be during the Osun state off-cycle election scheduled for Saturday, 22nd September 2018, which will feature 48 candidates. The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Segun Agbaje said: 'The BBG is another step towards assisting PLWDs. We are committed to ensuring that PLWDs are not disenfranchised.'

I am anxiously awaiting feedback on the use of the guide during the Osun governorship elections.

25th September, 2018

*INEC adopts measures (framework) to facilitate voting by PLWDs
*USAID supports inclusion of PLWDs in Nigeria's elections
*2019: INEC to introduce sign language for the disabled   https://www.dailytrust,

7th January, 2019

*39 million people blind globally
*Louis Braille created Braille (a tactile writing system to help the blind read) at age 15  #WorldBrailleDay
*How Braille helps blind and partially-sighted people realise their full human rights
*We need to make every single thing accessible to every person with disability - Stevie Wonder, UN Messenger of Peace  #WorldBrailleDay  #GlobalGoals

Sunday 16 September 2018


'Vote buying endangers the validity of election results; undermines public trust in the democratic system and negatively affects post-election politics, government accountability and public perceptions of that accountability.'
Jessica Leight et al (2016): 'Value for money in buying votes:                                                                  Vote buying and voter behaviour in the laboratory'

'Vote buying obstructs the democratic process by interfering with the rights of citizens to freely decide who would represent them and their interests. As a matter of fact, vote buying practices create an unbalance between parties that have access to material resources (e.g. incumbent parties) and parties deprived of these resources.'

YIAGA Africa (2018): 'Duly elected or duly purchased?:                                                                        Report on vote buying & selling in the 2018 Ekiti                                                                                    Governorship Elections

'I held 250 town hall meetings. I articulated solutions to our problems in my constituency. My opponent did not campaign at all. He gathered money and showed up one day to elections. He distributed money. He won. Africans are not moved by ideas. Their stomach leads them.'

Prof. Patrick Lumumba (Kenyan)

'In Africa, politics is regarded as warfare and politicians perceive opponents as enemies who must be destroyed with any conceivable instruments available. The real challenge is when and how we can get out this mercantile and adversarial politics in Africa.'

Late Professor Claude Ake
Political Scientist

'Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.'

Abraham Lincoln
Late/Former American President (POTUS)

The quotes above adequately capture the mood of participants at the public presentation on the 14th of September 2018 of the Report on vote buying and selling in the 2018 Ekiti off-cycle Governorship elections, titled 'Duly elected or duly purchased...'  There was a video documentary by Amplified Radio on vote buying in Osun state. Samson Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA Africa gave a succinct presentation on the report.

For me, the keynote address by the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu was very significant. He categorically condemned vote buying and selling (VBS) in Nigeria with a promise to continually fine tune creative ways of preventing and punishing the culprits whether they are buyers or sellers. He noted that the conduct of elections was improving. Vote buyers and sellers have resorted to this shameful, corrupt and anti-democratic act because rigging through ballot snatching etc in elections is becoming more difficult with the introduction of the following measures:

*The location of each polling unit is now specific. There are about 993,423 polling units in Nigeria and smart card readers are tailored to suit each polling booth.
*The Continuous Voter Register (CVR) is displayed for a minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 7 days in the 8,809 wards
*Each of the 91 currently registered Political Parties would receive the CVR before the 2019 elections.
*There is no more declaration of results while some voters are still on the queue, yet to vote!
*INEC is now more transparent. You can access so much information on their website.
*Appeals against election results are no longer secret. They can now be accessed on the internet.
*Pink copies of the EC6OE Form ('People's Result Sheet') are issued to Political Parties.
*There is massive deployment of ICT for transparency. This makes it difficult to thumbprint ballot papers.
*The implication of all these is that votes now count!

These are indeed comforting and re-assuring words from the Electoral Umpire. Prof. Yakubu went further to say that vote buyers and sellers would be curbed using the following steps and more:

1) Better administration of Polling Units to prevent VBS. VBS takes place between the voting cubicle and the ballot box.
-It may be necessary to prevent voters from being in possession of their mobile phones before approaching the voting cubicle.
-The sitting arrangement of polling agents could be re-shuffled to prevent them from accessing information as regards who a particular voter voted for.
-CCTVs could be installed at polling units.

2) Increased voter education/sensitisation.

3) Further training of security agents as regards how to handle VBS.

4) Enforcement of laws against VBS. For example, Sec. 124-130 of the Electoral Act criminalises VBS. Both the buyers and sellers should be prosecuted. The Electoral Act says INEC should prosecute offenders. But INEC has no Police to arrest, detain, investigate and prosecute offenders!

5) INEC should elicit the cooperation of security agencies for sting operations to intercept sudden cash movements in the election season.

6) The Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) should play a more active advocacy role among Political Parties on the dangers of VBS for the polity.

Page 29 of the report highlights the following steps to reduce and eventually eliminate vote selling and buying. Many of the steps corroborate the position of the participants at the event:

*Poverty reduction
*Comprehensive war on corruption
*Restoration of the ideological bases for political parties
*Reversal of rising unemployment
*Good governance
*Improved management of election security
*Introduction of electronic voting system
*Enforcement of electoral laws

On the whole, kudos to the articulate Samson Itodo and the YIAGA Africa team for professionally putting together the very first report on VBS in Nigeria. Such collaboration between civil society and INEC would ensure the continuous improvement of the electoral process. Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, Chair, INEC also deserves accolades for re-assuring citizens that all measures are being put in place to ensure that their votes count...

This is my 100th blog post! It's indeed worth celebrating. I have come a very long way since 2014, dishing out content related to my niche...

12th November, 2018

*Nigeria battles enduring problem: Rigging
*Bye-elections 2020: Low turnout, commercialisation of votes, assault on voting rights, etc.underline the need to priroritise electoral reforms
*Crafting credible election Commissions (EMBs) in West Africa
*A High Court in Akwa Ibom state has sentenced Peter Ogban, a Professor of Soil Science @ the University of Calabar, to three years in prison for manipulating election results


Wednesday 12 September 2018


There could be no development without peace,
No peace without development and
Neither peace nor development without human rights...
                                                                      Kofi Annan

When Kofi Annan died in August 2018, the outpouring of emotion was overwhelming for a man who broke the record as the very first black African UN Secretary-General. In fact, he was the first UNSG to be 'sourced' from within the organisation! That was indeed a feat for a Ghanaian with modest antecedents! A Kenyan twitter user said this when Annan died: 'Every Kenyan remembers Annan during his peace moves in our country in 2007/2008. Were it not for him, our country would have been brought down to ashes. We celebrate and love you. You have a place not only in Kenyans' hearts, but in the world.'

Annan brokered peace in Kenya in the aftermath of the election where about 600 people were killed. He and his team got former President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki (who was declared winner in the 2007 polls) to discuss with the Opposition Leader, Raila Odinga. They agreed on a power-sharing formula that ended the bloodshed! Many others have expressed similar positive sentiments about this unassuming Ghanaian global citizen. He was a master Mediator who kept the flag of peace flying around the world. Annan was jointly awarded a Nobel Peace Prize  with the UN in 2001 for his efforts.

Annan realised that in an era of globalisation, a strong partnership with the private sector was required to make progress in many public policy issues. This provided the impetus for advancing the idea of the 'Global Compact', which is aimed at encouraging global corporations to embrace principles relating to the promotion of labour standards, respect for human rights, protection of the environment and combating corruption. In 2000, he said: 'weaving universal values into the fabric of global markets and corporate practices will help advance broad social goals, while securing open markets.

However, his glittering humanitarian credentials are overshadowed by the Rwanda genocide and the UN response to the tragedy under his watch in 1994. About 800,000 people died in the Rwanda genocide! In his defense, Annan blamed a reluctance among battle-worn leaders at the time to send troops to Rwanda. Despite his Rwanda failings, Annan was widely recognised as the one who advanced the African agenda during his tenure at the UN.

Annan successfully led the UN for two consecutive terms of five years. His work with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) and the Africa Progress Panel (APP) were exemplary. Annan launched the global campaign for fresh funding for HIV/AIDS in 2001. In fact, he initiated the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, was yet another initiative to fight poverty, which was the first of the 8 goals. He said AIDS was ten times more deadly than armed conflict in Africa.

Annan described the establishment of the UN Peacekeeping Commission as 'filling the gaping hole' in the institutional framework for post-conflict reconstruction and development. The Commission remains particularly useful to African countries emerging from conflict. He successfully canvassed for 'humanitarian intervention' as a possible alternative to peacekeeping. He bought into the concept of 'sovereignty as responsibility'. The resultant policy was the legitimisation of the 'Responsibility to Protect (R2P)' This was further reinforced by Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the AU.

During his tenure, Annan produced a landmark report on the 'Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa'. He oversaw the massive peace-keeping deployment in response to rising conflicts in Africa, with about 50% (7 of 15) of UN Peacekeeping operations and aboutv 80% of UN personnel (69,238 of 87,764) deployed to Africa at the end of his tenure in 2006.

The current UNSG, Antonio Guterres said: 'Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good...' On balance, Annan was an exceptional and extraordinary UNSG. He lived a life of service to Africa and indeed the world! 

Related Links

*'Our shared humanity': The legacy of Kofi Annan
*Personal tribute to Kofi Annan by the AU Commission Deputy Chairman, H.E. Kofi Attah Annan-Busumuru>pressrelease>personal-tribute-kofi-annan-au-commission...
*Kofi Annan: Tribute to a rare gentleman>magazine>december-2018-march-2019

Thursday 6 September 2018


In July 2018, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria passed the National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation & Mediation (NCPRM) Establishment Bill 2018 (SB 74), which seeks to provide for the establishment of a National Commission responsible for the identification of conflict; supervision, coordination and monitoring of all peaceful resolutions between governments, organisations and relevant institutions. As a Conflict Transformation Expert of over 30 years experience who retired as a Director in the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in 2010, this is a welcome development!

Presenting the report on the Bill, Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Sen. David Umaru (APC Niger), identified some of the objectives of the Bill:

*Establishing a Commission with the mandate to identify, supervise, coordinate and monitor all forms of conflict and resolution within Nigeria; and
*Implementing the National Peace Policy (NPP) that provides for a framework for peace-building, prevention, management and resolution of dysfunctional conflicts in Nigeria.

The Committee received memoranda and conducted a public hearing on the Bill. Some of the stakeholders are:

1) The Federal Ministry of Justice
2) The National Law Reform Commission (NLRC)
3) The Nigerian Army
4) The Nigerian Navy
5) The Nigerian Air Force
6) Department of State Services
7) National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
8) The Nigeria Securities & Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC)
9) Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution (IPCR)
10) Policy Legal & Advocacy Centre (PLAC)

There is a huge task before the NCPRM when established. Some of the envisaged areas where a lot of work still needs to be done as regards systematic conceptualisation and 'berthing' are:

*Developing a framework that promotes peace, security and development in areas of conflict.
*Establishing measures that enhance national cohesion, confidence building and sustainable development.
*Transforming, resolving, controlling and ensuring responses are targeted at addressing the causes of conflict - e.g. the proliferation of SALWs, the influx of foreigners owing to porous borders, etc
*Empowering the Commission with the mandate to promote peace and security due to the limitation of the scope of IPCR.

In my opinion, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water. The initial mandate of IPCR could still be relevant to NCPRM. The research component in the mandate of IPCR should be upheld. Besides, there is an existing Department of External Conflict Prevention & Resolution (ECPR) of which I was the pioneer Head. The department engages in research for conflicts outside Nigeria, but within Africa. My position is that because conflicts within and beyond Africa affect conflicts in Nigeria, we need to understand them. Besides, the periodic 'Strategic Conflict Assessment' of Nigeria (SCA) (four editions have so far been published by IPCR since 2003) should continue in the NCPRM. See for example: Strategic Conflict Assessment of Nigeria -

On the whole, a lot of work still needs to be done in order to clarify exactly what the NCPRM would be doing even before the Commission is established. Is IPCR going to be subsumed under NCPRM? If the answer is 'yes', what would be retained/discarded in the 'incoming' IPCR should be clearly stated. I shall continue to watch this space for further developments... 

Saturday 1 September 2018


On the 29th of August 2018, the book: 'Ordinary Saviour: New stories from Nigeria's North-East' (Abubakar Ibrahim & Richard Alli eds) was presented to the public on the platform of Global Rights. In the comments by the editors of the book, I was struck by the following:

Stories by their very complex nature, are the essence of our experiences and perceptions. Before Boko Haram (BH), there were stories in the north-east. However, over the years, the dimension and scope of these stories have become amplified and more layered. Their nuances have become more intricate as numerous factors have come into play: imported fanaticism and weapons have met indigent people, who for years have remained at the basic level of existence. At the bottom of the BH conflict is indignation arising from years of neglect and poverty. The devastation brought by BH has re-written the narrative of north-east Nigeria...

The book, a collection of fictional essays on various aspects of the BH crisis, contained narratives by the contributing authors:

*'Family Tragedy' by Adamu Galadima
*'The Aftermath' by Nafisatu Mshelbila
*'Uncertain' by Mercy Bijimi
*'Being Human' by Mahammed Modu Maina
*'Home' by Minta Yusuf
*'Ordinary Saviour' by Suzanne Myada
*'Home on my Mind by Adaku Anosike
*'Identity Lost' by Chabiyada Eli

These fictional stories brought out in bold relief various aspects of the BH crisis: the plight of children fathered by BH members; the Policeman who becomes more humane on account of the fact that his daughter died because she was refused treatment by hospital staff while he, the father was on duty; the BH captive who pretended to 'love' one of those who serially raped her with the intention of  eventually laying siege and killing him while facilitating her escape...

The following were some of those in attendance:

*Juliet Kego - Social entrepreneur
*Eduardo Fernandez - Chief-of-Party, NERI
*John Onyeuku - Programme Director/DCOP, NERI
*Joel Hirst - Country Representative, OTI
*Abiodun Baiyewu - Country Representative, Global Rights
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Conflict Transformation Expert
*Lesley Agams - Lawyer

We need more of such stories from NE Nigeria that bring out in bold relief the human angle of the protracted crisis...

Related Links

*The journey of BH survivors
*View on Africa: Do Police need the Army's help?
*Violence in Nigeria's North-West: Rolling back the mayhem    https;//
*#BringBackOurBoys: Nigerians express outrage at kidnap of students from Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina state     #RescueKankaraBoys
*Analysis of the causes & consequences of kidnapping    https;//
*NE Nigeria & its internally displaced families
*How to stop VE
*Children who were tortured and held captive in BH camps for over 5 years showed more intense levels of mental health issues than those held captive for a shorter time
*Insecurity in the Niger Delta: Emerging threats in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo & Rivers states by Judith Asuni
*Road to radicalisation
*France and the spectral menace of Islamo-leftism
*In the Sahel, terrorists are now sitting at the negotiation table