Insecurity Threatens To Derail Nigeria’s Feb. 2023 Elections

“On October 23 the U.S. Embassy issued an alert about an elevated risk of terror attacks against a wide range of targets in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. This followed a series of concerning security developments over the past year and highlights the growing level of instability in Nigeria – a challenge that may seriously undermine the prospects for a credible election in February 2023.

“This indeed marks a critical inflection point for Nigerian democracy.

“Today, the country is experiencing the highest levels of insecurity since a transition to democracy in 1999. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), instances of conflict, political violence, and protests in 2021 marked the highest on record — and 2022 is on track to surpass those alarming figures.

“States with high levels of conflict tend to fare worse at conducting credible elections. From 1997-2021, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that held elections with 1,000 or more conflict related fatalities tended to have significantly lower scores for free and fair elections. Analysis by the Varieties of Democracy (V-DEM) Project shows a correlation between countries experiencing high levels of conflict during elections and lower levels of electoral fairness.  “Further analysis of ACLED data shows that violence directly related to elections has already claimed some sixty lives in Nigeria this year, almost double the number of election related fatalities that occurred in the same period prior to the 2019 elections.  Election violence has generally taken the form of violent protests and clashes between rival political party supporters, including recent high profile incidents in Kaduna and Zamfara. There have also been attempted assassinations and targeted killings of electoral commission staff.  The stage has thus been set for even more violence on Election Day and perhaps beyond. … “

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