The Risk of Election Violence in Nigeria is Not Where You Think

2019 Elections, Africa, APC, Oil, PDP, PMB, Politics, Power, SEcurity

Containing violence at the state level will be key to a peaceful election

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 / BY: Oge Onubogu ; Idayat Hassan

Nigeria’s political parties are in full campaign mode ahead of national and state-level elections early next year, and unfortunately signs are emerging that election-related violence is a real possibility. It’s not too late, however, for Nigerians and the international community to take steps to reduce the risks of coercion and possibly even bloodshed. To do so effectively, it’s crucial that as much attention be paid to flashpoints at the state level as to tensions surrounding the higher profile campaign for president.

People gather and watch election coverage at a small market in Kano, northern Nigeria, March 31, 2015. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)
People gather and watch election coverage at a small market in Kano, northern Nigeria, March 31, 2015. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)

In Nigeria, All Politics is Local

September’s off-cycle election for governor in the southwestern state of Osun illustrates the intensity of state elections and the accompanying risks. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the initial results inconclusive because of technical problems and other disruptions, and the vote had to be redone. In the second round, U.S., European Union and U.K. observers reported that they found “incidents of interference and intimidation of voters, and heard reports of harassment of party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.” Social media posts showed photos of allegedly injured civilians. Higher profile state races in 2019 are likely to be even more volatile.

State-level elections are important for democratic development in Nigeria, which serves as a bellwether for stability in Africa as the continent’s most populous country and biggest oil-producing nation. State races often function as a proving ground for candidates aspiring to national office. Moreover, the country’s powerful state governors, who allocate federally disbursed revenue and shape policy on development and security, oversee the state election commissions that manage local government elections—the essence of grassroots democracy.

The 2019 state-level voting will usher in leadership to some of the most populous and economically important states in Nigeria, including Lagos, Kano and Rivers, as well as in states that experience recurring intercommunal violence including Plateau, Kaduna and Benue.

The electoral calendar will be crowded in the first quarter of 2019. Just two weeks after the general elections, balloting will take place on March 2 to select governors and state assemblies in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states (seven others are scheduled off-cycle for various reasons). In the 29 contests, incumbent governors are defending 19 seats. Of those, 12 are members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The other seven belong to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of opposition candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Incumbent governors running for a second four-year term hold significant advantages because of their domination of state party structures, leverage over powerful patronage networks and the ways they can manage to employ state funds to bolster their campaigns.

In Lagos state, the APC incumbent lost in the October primary, and in the remaining nine of the 29 state contests (Borno, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo, Yobe and Zamfara), the incumbents cannot run again because of term limits, making for competitive open races.

A Complex Risk Environment

In the 2015 state elections, voting generally proceeded smoothly across the country, according to the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD), a U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) partner organization in Nigeria. Even so, “significant incidences of shootings, protests, arson and fatalities were recorded in most geopolitical zones,” the CDD reported.

Three years later, conditions have changed. The nature of these changes—and the forces behind them—must be considered in weighing whether state-level election violence is likely, and if so, how to prevent it or mitigate the consequences.

The number of violent conflicts across the country and their toll have increased. Clashes between farmers and herders over land and water have escalated and are particularly deadly in the northern states of Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Zamfara and Kaduna. Some of those states, including Benue and Plateau, fall within the politically influential region of North Central Nigeria.

In the country’s Northeast, the military claims to have decimated Boko Haram, but the group continues to stage well-publicized attacks. Meanwhile, paramilitary forces organized in response to the terrorist threat now pose a danger themselves in places such as Borno state. So, the contest to replace Borno’s term-limited Governor Kashim Shettima will be especially important.

Another change since 2015 is proliferating fissures within the APC and the PDP. In Kano, northern Nigeria’s most populous state and long considered a harbinger of a party’s political prospects across that region, divisions are deep within the APC between supporters of incumbent Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and backers of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, formerly the state’s governor, and now member of the opposition PDP. Already, the party primaries in October in Zamfara were marred by violence. Preparations for that state’s elections in March continue to be controversial, as INEC has declined to accept the APC’s gubernatorial candidate, saying the party submitted his name too late.

As intraparty conflicts sharpen, rivalry between the APC and the PDP remains intense. That competition lies at the root of persistent violence, including around elections, in the Niger Delta’s leading oil producer, Rivers state—hostility heightened by the APC’s growing challenge to the PDP’s previous dominance in the lead-up to the 2015 vote. The Fund for Peace, another USIP partner in Nigeria, reports that “the personal rivalry between former Governor Rotimi Amaechi (APC) and current Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike (PDP)” exacerbates divisions along party lines. Rivers state is considered a political crown jewel for any party able to capture control of the jurisdiction.

How Election Violence can be Mitigated

So, what can be done? Nigeria must be held to a higher standard than in the past in order to fulfill its proper role as the best example of democratic development in Africa. While there has been much improvement in recent years, the country’s political leaders need to do better.

First, planning for prevention of election violence needs to occur earlier and be sustained longer to contain post-election incidents.

Secondly, the United States and international community, including the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), should intensify their pre-election diplomacy. All stakeholders with potential influence on Nigeria’s leaders must clearly convey their expectation that Nigeria’s political parties will act responsibly throughout campaigns, balloting and the post-election period. They must demand that parties discipline their members, officials and their candidates should they violate standards of acceptable conduct.

Finally, Nigerian authorities should identify credible state-level and community leaders in advance who could provide leadership and advice—or even mediation—in the event of rising tensions. USIP’s Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance, a group of eminent civic leaders, could be a source of support, and there may be other community leaders with the skills and influence to prevent and defuse violence. Some states already have institutions designed to reduce violence, such as the Plateau State Peacebuilding Agency and the Kaduna State Peacebuilding Commission. These bodies are still getting their footing, but they can work closely with local community leaders and civil society representatives.

While Nigeria has made major strides since democracy was restored almost 20 years ago, the struggle to control the widespread violence that plagues its communities is far from over. Reducing election-related violence, especially in the all-important state gubernatorial elections, is a crucial place to start.

Oge Onubogu is a senior program officer for Africa programs at USIP. Idayat Hassan is the director of the Centre for Democracy and Development–West Africa, an Abuja-based policy advocacy and research organization.

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Oil dips as U.S. drilling tempers otherwise bullish sentiment

International Finance, international News, News, Oil, Petroleum Products
Reuters.
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of crude oil being dispensed into a bottle© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of crude oil being dispensed into a bottle

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices dipped on Monday as a rising U.S. rig count implied further increases in output, marking one of the few factors tamping back crude in an otherwise bullish environment.

Brent crude futures were at $73.91 per barrel at 0630 GMT, down 15 cents, or 0.2 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $68.22 a barrel.

“We expect for oil prices to recede slightly today as market anticipates on the prospect of rising production in the U.S.,” Singapore-based Phillip Futures said on Monday.

U.S. drillers added five rigs drilling for new production in the week ended April 20, bringing the total to 820, the highest since March 2015, according Baker Hughes energy services firm.

The rising rig numbers point to further increases in U.S. crude production, which is already up by a quarter since mid-2016 to a record 10.54 million barrels per day (bpd).

Only Russia produces more, at almost 11 million bpd.

Despite slipping on Monday, overall the oil market remains well supported, especially by strong demand in Asia.

Brent is up by 20 percent from its 2018 low in February.

Prices are also being supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that were introduced in 2017 to prop up the market.

“Added price pressure comes from U.S. sanctions against the key oil exporting nations of Venezuela, Russia and Iran,” said J.P. Morgan Asset Management Global Market Strategist Kerry Craig. He was referring to action the U.S. government has taken on Russian companies and individuals, as well as on potential new measures against struggling Venezuela and especially OPEC-member Iran.

“Stay long oil,” J.P. Morgan said in a separate note.

The United States has until May 12 to decide whether it will leave the Iran nuclear deal and instead impose new sanctions against Tehran, including potentially on its oil exports, which would further tighten global supplies.

The U.S. trade action against Russia and, potentially, against Iran has resulted in a slump in Russia’s ruble and Iran’s rial.

This means costs for any imported goods become more expensive for its citizens or companies, but it has also pushed up the value of Russia’s and Iran’s oil sales as all of their production costs are in the local currencies, while foreign sales are largely made in the U.S. dollar.

The generally elevated oil prices have also sparked a spat between U.S. President Donald Trump and producer cartel OPEC.

Trump on Friday accused OPEC of “artificially” boosting oil prices, threatening on Twitter that this “will not be accepted”, drawing rebukes from several of the world’s top oil exporters within OPEC.

 

Nigeria’s oil production Dips again; Lowest Production recorded in six months

2019 Elections, Africa, economy, Oil, Petroleum Products, PMB, War, World Bank

Nigeria’s oil production dropped by more than 82,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 2.022 million b/d in March 2018 — compared to the output in the preceding month, according to estimates released by the ministry of petroleum resources.

The ministry figures showed that oil production, including condensates, averaged 2,022,716 bpd in March, down from a high of 2,105,656 bpd in February. It was the lowest oil production by the country in the last six months.

The ministry provided no reason for the decline.

Sabotage attacks on oil production and exports facilities had seen Nigeria not able to produce up to its maximum capacity of around 3.2 million bpd. In 2016, oil production dropped significantly to 1.4 million bpd, and the Nigerian economy slipped into recession.

On Monday, Shell said operations at Forcados terminal, one of Nigeria’s main oil export routes, were ramping up after a momentary shutdown at the Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP).

Forcados terminal exports an average of 262,000 bpd, according to loading schedule.

The terminal experienced low injection of crude around March 27, following a shutdown of the TFP, a Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) spokesman told TheCable Petrobarometer.

According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), about 300,000 bpd of oil were shut in at Forcados terminal alone in 2016, following the declaration of the force majeure that year.

Nigerians paid less for petrol, kerosene, diesel in March – NBS

local news, Oil, Petroleum Products

NIPCOThe average price paid by consumers for petrol, diesel, and kerosene decreased in March compared to February, the National Bureau of Statistics has said

The bureau released separate reports on Wednesday on each of the fuel products.

The average price for petrol, per litre, decreased by 5.3 per cent from N172.5 in February to N163.4 in March.

The average price recorded for March 2018, however, increased by 9.6 per cent when compared to the N149.4 in March 2017

Although the official price for the sale of petrol in Nigeria is N145, the report shows that petrol is sold at higher prices in almost all Nigeria’s 36 states and Abuja.

In fact, only Abuja had petrol selling at the average price of N145 per litre.

Apart from Abuja, the states with the lowest average prices per litre were Bauchi (N145.6) and Kaduna (N147.3).

The states with the highest average prices of petrol per litre for March include Taraba (N184.4), Jigawa (N180.9) and Ekiti (N173.9).

For diesel, the average price decreased by 1.65 per cent from N209.9 in February to N206.4 in March.

The average price also decreased by 12 per cent when compared to the N234.5 recorded as the average price of diesel for March 2017.

Taraba, Sokoto and Kebbi States had the highest average prices of diesel per litre, at N254.2, N249.2, and N230.8 respectively for March 2018.

The states with the lowest average prices per litre for March 2018 were Delta (N189.6), Bayelsa (N187.5) and Abia (N185.8).

For kerosene, the average price per litre across states was N268.9.

The average price was a 6.8 per cent decrease from the N288.6 recorded for February 2018 and a 13.6 per cent decrease from the N311.6 recorded for March 2017.

States with the highest average prices of kerosene per litre were Nasarawa at N305, Yobe at N300.7 and Cross Rivers at N300.6

Abia, Delta and Borno States had the lowest average prices per litre of kerosene at N229.3, N227.7 and N225.1 respectively for March 2018.NIPCO.jpg