Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nigeria News Update: PDP Reported to Lead in Gubernatorial Races; 12 Police Killed; Atiku Back In Elections

PDP Leads in Gubernatorial Races

LAGOS, April 17 (Xinhua) -- The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)has increased its lead to 26 gubernatorial seats in last Saturday's House of Assembly elections in Nigeria, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday.

The ruling PDP has seats in the northeast states of Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa, Katsina and Jigawa and Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kwara and Niger states in north and central Nigeria.

They also secured the governorship seats in southern states of Delta, Edo, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom, and also swept the seats in southwest states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti andOndo.

In the northwest, the PDP took Kebbi while in the southeast, it took Anambra and Ebonyi.

The Action Congress has only Lagos state so far while the All Nigeria Peoples Party swept the states of Borno, Yobe and Bauchi in the northeast as well as Zamfara and Sokoto states in the northwest. The Progressive Peoples Party has Abia state.

Two states, Enugu and Imo, have been void due to alleged irregularities and another election will be conducted in the two states on April 28 while Kano election results is still been awaited.

Gunmen in Nigeria kill 12 police ahead of weekend's presidential election

Canadian Press
at 16:31 on April 17, 2007, EST.

KANO, Nigeria (AP) - Gunmen attacked a police station on Tuesday in northern Nigeria, killing 12 officers and torching the building despite the government's attempts to increase security for weekend presidential elections meant to cement civilian rule.

Nigeria's electoral commission said it would comply with a Supreme Court ruling that Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who fell out with the president and his powerful party, rejoin the race ahead of Saturday's election.

The last-minute change added uncertainty to a race already marked by violence and fraud charges, but an election commission spokesman insisted the vote would go ahead as planned, with Abubakar on the ballot.

Abubakar told AP Television News in an interview that the development was "a victory for democracy."

"It is a victory for the rule of law, and the protection of the constitution in this country," he said. "The judiciary has to be commended for its courage, for its defence of our young democracy."

In the northern city of Kano, which has been swept by riots in past years and is under a nighttime curfew after unrest in recent days, gunmen killed 12 policemen and the wife of an officer, said the regional police spokesman, Baba Mohammed.

"I've made up my mind that I'll never go to another polling station, because there's no security. I don't even know if I can reach home alive," said Ibrahim Garba, 46, a street vendor. "This is not a good development for democracy in the country."

Residents said they believed the attackers were members of an outlawed Islamist movement that has clashed briefly with security forces in recent years. The attackers told people in the neighbourhood that their quarrel was with the government only, but many residents fled, residents said.

Some of the attackers were apparently holed up in a building near the police station, with troops nearby. Security forces kept reporters back.

Tensions were high in the opposition stronghold city of three million after a delay in results from state governorship and legislature elections marred by fraud and violence.

Police banned political rallies across Nigeria, Africa's most-populous country with 140 million people, and security forces were ordered to put down any violence.

Abubakar bolted the ruling party after successfully opposing a drive last year to amend the constitution and allow a third elected term for President Olusegun Obasanjo. Umaru Yar'Adua, a member of Obasanjo's party, is seen as the front-runner.

The electoral commission had barred Abubakar based on findings by an executive panel established by Obasanjo that found Abubakar stole government funds. Abubakar denies the allegations.

Nigeria: Facts and figures

Africa's most populous country has emerged from a history of military rule to a democracy, in which more freedom has led to outbreaks of religious and ethnic violence.


Nigerian population counts have a history of being controversial, violent, with allegations of rigging and manipulation. The census in 2006 was mainly peaceful, but there were outbreaks of violence - including a number of deaths - and heightened ethnic and political tensions.

The 1991 census put the total population at 88.9m, almost equally divided between the two sexes. The 2006 census, recording a population of 140m, suggests there are 3.5m more men than women.

The census included questions on education, occupation, income, size of house, water supply, toilet facilities, type of fuel used and access to radio, television and telephones - but, in an effort to avoid trouble, not religion.

Religious and ethnic groups were concerned that the results of a census which included religion could affect their position in society, government funding, and political influence in the region.

Muslims are in the majority in most of the northern states which have adopted Sharia (Islamic) law. Kaduna and Niger do operate under Sharia, but are often described as 50% Christian and 50% Muslim.

More central states are also a mix of Christian and Muslim, and the southern states are mostly Christian and animist.


Nigeria is the economic powerhouse of West Africa, contributing nearly 50% of regional GDP. Economically, Nigeria remains dependent on the oil and gas sector. Nigeria is a member of Opec and is the world's eighth largest exporter of oil. Revenue from Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) is expected to surpass oil revenues over the next 10 years.

Although the type of crude oil produced in Nigeria needs little refining, Nigeria has been unable to get its own refineries working to the point where it can produce petroleum products for domestic consumption and has to re-import refined products.

Increasing lawlessness in the oil-producing Niger Delta region had cast doubt over whether an election could be staged at all in Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa states. In the past 12 months, more than 100 foreign workers have been kidnapped (70 in 2007 so far) and attacks on oil facilities have forced Nigeria to shut down between 20-25% of its oil production.

A booming industry has been the mobile phone sector. There are approximately 1.25m landlines in Nigeria, whereas there are estimated to be more than 30m mobile phone subscribers.

Analysts believe that growth will continue, with Nigeria overtaking South Africa to become Africa's largest market by the end of 2007.

During President Olusegun Obasanjo's two terms of office, Nigeria has paid off all but $5bn of an estimated $35.9bn foreign debt. Following a debt deal with the Paris Club (government-to-government creditors) in 2005, Nigeria paid back $12.4bn in April 2006. It is due to repay $900m to the London Club (private financial institutions) soon, having already repaid $1.4bn.

Its remaining creditor, the World Bank, says the repayment record on the $2.07bn lent to Nigeria is "very good".
But Transparency International still ranks Nigeria as one of the world's most corrupt countries. Law enforcement officials say almost half of its $40bn annual oil revenue is stolen or wasted.


Nigeria has been ruled by the military for most of the 47 years since independence from Britain.

After the past eight years of democracy there are now more than 50 parties across the country. The main ones are the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) and Action Congress (AC). President Olusegun Obasanjo - an ethnic Yoruba and Christian from the South - is a veteran of the military and political elite. He has won some praise abroad as he is credited with tackling the foreign debt and corruption that were crippling the economy.

But many Nigerians complain they have yet to see any major improvements in the basic infrastructure - power, water and utilities - or in their prospects of getting a job, while prices keep on going up.


Umaru Yar'Adua - PDP - current state governor
Atiku Abubakar - AC - current vice-president
Muhammadu Buhari - ANPP - Former military leader

After Mr Obasanjo's election in 1999, a new constitution provided for elections every four years. Mr Obasanjo won again in 2003, although the polls were considered flawed. The governing People's Democratic Party (PDP) strengthened its position in both the National Assembly and across Nigeria's 36 states, 31 of which have PDP governors.

An attempt to amend the constitution to allow the president to stand for a third term failed in 2006.

The 2007 elections should see the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in Nigeria since independence.

The three main presidential contenders are all northern Muslims, reflecting a belief that Nigeria's top job should be held by a northerner, after Mr Obasanjo.

Atiku Abubakar wants to stand on behalf of the Action Congress. After lengthy court battles it looks like he will be running.

A notable achievement over the past eight years is that the army has been politically neutralised - any generals with political ambitions were quickly retired, others have been regularly rotated to prevent them building any constituency within the military. The new generation of officers see themselves as professionals and, for the first time in decades, all observers agree that a military coup is unlikely.

Benin, Burkina Faso,
Cape Verde, Ivory Coast,
Gambia, Ghana, Guinea,
Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali,
Niger, Nigeria, Senegal,
Sierra Leone, Togo

Regionally, Nigeria is the predominant power in West Africa and was instrumental in setting up the Economic Community of West Africa (Ecowas) under which it has taken the lead in regional conflict resolution, principally in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

On the wider stage, President Obasanjo was one of the founders of the New African Partnership for Development (Nepad) and held the chair of the African Union (AU) in 2005-6, hosting peace talks for Sudan. Nigeria aspires to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.


Nigeria has some of the worst social indicators in the world: one in five children die before the age of five; 12 million children are not in school; and there are nearly two million Aids orphans.

More than 54.7% of the population (75 million people) live below the poverty line in a country where the life expectancy is 47.

Eight years after the introduction of the president's privatisation programmes, Nigerians are still waiting for a guaranteed electricity supply, running water, sewerage services, improved rail and road services and telephone facilities.

The capital, Abuja, is Nigeria's most expensive city, followed by the oil-rich Port Harcourt and then the largest city Lagos, the country's commercial capital.

In May 2004, Mr Obasanjo introduced a home-grown economic reform programme named the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (Needs) which is intended to promote fiscal discipline and due process in public procurement, reform the civil service and banking system and introduce privatisation and transparency.

Human rights have improved considerably since 1999, though Nigeria still retains the death penalty. The Obasanjo government set up the Oputa Panel to investigate human rights abuses under the military, and established a Human Rights Commission.

There is a large and active civil society and a free and vibrant media. However, there are reports of torture, beatings and extra-judicial killing, largely blamed on ill-trained members of the security forces.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/17 06:07:54 GMT

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