The February 2015 elections look set to be the most contentious to date. The potential risk of violence remains particularly high given the set of complexities faced by the Nigerian government. These include the Boko Haram insurgency, religious tension spilling over into politics, and insecurity in the Niger Delta.
It is crucial that the government and other key state actors work together to ensure the risk of violence is minimised; this is of particular importance for northern Nigeria where the safety of voters is a major concern.
Political candidates have even been advised by religious leaders not to contest the forthcoming elections as it could only serve to intensify ethno-religious tensions. Religious affiliations have the potential to shroud issues that are also of great significance for Nigeria such as the importance of good governance.
This month’s analysis includes a report principally authored by Nnamdi Obasi assessing the potential risk of violence during the upcoming elections, a blog post by Emily Mellgard detailing the advice given to political candidates by a religious cleric, a piece by Ryan Cummings which considers the asymmetric warfare of the insurgency, and a blog by Andrew Noakes looking at the possibility of peace with Boko Haram.
Nigeria’s Dangerous 2015 Elections: Limiting the Violence
Nnamdi Obasi, the principal author of this Crisis Group report, suggests that the risks of violence during the 2015 elections are particularly high given that this is the first nationwide contest between two parties since the return to civilian rule in 1999. Recommendations are offered to a number of key state actors to help mitigate the risk of widespread violence.
Nigerian Religious Leaders Advise Political Candidates
Emily Mellgard in this blog post highlights the advice that has been given to presidential aspirant Muhammadu Buhari and the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan by a prominent Muslim cleric.
Both politicians have been advised not to contest the election as it may propagate ethno-religious tensions with Buhari being seen as the Islamic candidate and Jonathan, the pro-Christian President. She concludes by suggesting that only time will tell if Buhari and Jonathan will heed this advice.
Elections, Boko Haram and Security: Assessing and Addressing Nigeria’s Complex Challenges
Dr Oliver Owen and Professor Mohammed Kuna, explore some of the debilitating challenges that Nigeria presently face; listen to the full discussion here.
Boko Haram and the Symmetry of Asymmetric Warfare
In this piece, Ryan Cummings assesses the acts of violence that have been carried out by the Boko Haram insurgency. He suggests that such acts remain characteristic of typical asymmetric warfare with suicide and car bombings, targeted assassinations and kidnappings to name a few, continuing to serve as preferred attack vectors. He analyses the possible strategic and ideological motivations behind the sect’s ongoing reliance on dispersed asymmetrical forms of violence.
Boko Haram: can a peace deal be negotiated?
Andrew Noakes, writing for Oxford Research Group’s sustainable security blog, considers what it would take to do a peace deal with Boko Haram. He concludes that the first step for achieving peace must be for the army to re-establish security for civilians in the north-east and take the momentum away from the insurgents. Then the underlying drivers of the conflict, including under-development and human rights violations, must be addressed.
Key findings from this briefing
- 2015 elections will be the most contentious elections since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.
- There is a potential risk of violence during the upcoming elections and the government must take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of voters.
- The state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe could prevent voting in parts of north-eastern states.
- Ethno-religious tensions could be a prominent feature of the 2015 elections; political candidates have been advised not to politicise religious differences.
- A contest between a political candidate from the north and his Niger Delta counterpart, could result in violence in both regions depending on the outcome of the election.
- The possible strategic and ideological aims of Boko Haram would suggest that the acts of terror employed could have some underlying motivations.
- Taking the momentum away from Boko Haram in the north-east is a prerequisite for any peace deal.
- It is essential to address the underlying drivers of the conflict in order to lay the groundwork for peace.