Monday, January 11, 2010

Is Nigeria capable of democracy?

They say democracy is the best form of government. And truly it is. But is there some level of maturity needed for it to work? Or do countries like Nigeria just have to work their way through the "growing pains" of early democracy? It's easy to look at America's democracy and wonder "why can't Nigeria just work like that?" Why can't there be respect for the rule of law? Why can't people just do things are logical?

Anyway, in today's Nigeria, the president (Yar'Adua) has not made a public appearance in 49 days! That's 49 days without anyone hearing from or seeing the president of a country of over 150 million. Even after the US puts Nigeria on a terrorist-prone country watch list. Even after armed gunmen attacked Togo's players en route to a country that Nigeria has sent its best 23 soccer players and officials. Even after there's public outcry for him to show his face.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't follow Nigerian politics (in fact, I don't follow anything but soccer-related news about Nigeria) but this just sounds fishy to me. I am forced to conclude that: Yar'Adua is dead or Yar'Adua is in a coma. Otherwise he would have come out with some sort of "proof of life" (sucks that a population would need proof of life from an elected president). Even crazy Fidel Castro knew to produce proof of life (a still photo) when there were rumors in America that he was dead. As it is no one knows where the president is; some are claiming to be in communication with him and others are disputing those claims. Our president is now like the sightings of Big Foot.

So here's my (probably well off the mark) analysis of the situation: if Yar'Adua is dead Nigeria is screwed. Why? The presidency is being rotated between the 3 parts of the country: North (Hausa), East (Ibo), West (Yoruba). The last president was from the West, the current on (Yar'Adua) is from the North...thus the next will be from the East. Sounds far fetched but welcome to Nigerian politics. So if Yar'Adua is dead and the North doesn't get to finish their term, where does the next president comes from? The East? The North? To make matters worse, the current VP is not from the north (I believe he's from the East). So if power is handed over to him as a result of the death of the president, does that mean the East have served their term...Going to be interesting.
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