Para la mayoría de los nigerianos, las enfermedades mentales se dan «cuando alguien empieza a correr desnudo por ahí». Es un error impactante, sin embargo el 70 % de los encuestados en un relevamiento reciente —el mayor en el país en casi 20 años— lo cree. Y esa fue tan solo una de las muchas creencias equivocadas y nocivas que mostró el relevamiento.

La encuesta, que contó con 5315 participantes y fue llevada a cabo por nuestras organizaciones —EpiAFRIC y el Instituto de Encuestas de África (Africa Polling Institute)— detectó que el 84 % cree que los problemas mentales se deben al consumo excesivo de estupefacientes, el 60 % vincula esas enfermedades con el «mal de la mente», el 54 % con la «posesión por espíritus malignos» y el 23 %, con el «castigo de Dios».…  Seguir leyendo »

A currency dealer counts bundles of naira banknotes for exchange on the 'black market' in Lagos, Nigeria. Photographer: Tom Saater/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

As virus-related deaths peak and lockdowns begin to ease elsewhere, Nigeria’s COVID-19 crisis appears to be intensifying. Infections are still increasing rapidly amid claims many deaths are going unreported, and the testing and treatment capacity remains minimal as a government-led scramble to revitalise a long-neglected health sector does not appear to be forthcoming.

But despite these immediate and urgent concerns, Nigeria’s greatest COVID-related challenge—a fiscal crisis of historic proportions—is just beginning to unfold.

Triggered by the global economic depression and prospective long-term slump in crude oil prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this external shock could not have come at a worse time for a country yet to bounce back from the recession of five years ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

News stand in Lagos, Nigeria on April 12, 2020. Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images.

Nigeria is better placed than many to respond to the arrival of the coronavirus disease. In 2014, it successfully contained a deadly Ebola virus outbreak and the country’s current score on the Epidemic Preparedness Index (38.9 per cent) is higher than the African and global averages.

But the outbreak is compounding Nigeria’s numerous pre-existing crises. It was already grappling with a Lassa fever outbreak that has claimed more than one hundred lives in 2020, the aftermath of recession, and conflict and insecurity within its borders.

Effective leadership to build confidence will be vital. However, President Muhammadu Buhari has made few appearances, delivering his first speech on Nigeria’s response more than one month after the country’s first recorded case.…  Seguir leyendo »

Military commanders inspect arms and ammunitions recovered from Boko Haram jihadists. Audu Marte/AFP via Getty Images

The Nigerian government recently announced that it had released about 1,400 Boko Haram suspects. The reason given was they had repented and were to be re-integrated into society. The government said the releases – which happened in three tranches – were part of its four-year old de-radicalisation programme called Operation Safe Corridor.

The announcement generated a lot of angst. Opposition leaders attacked the decision, as did soldiers fighting the terrorists.

These reactions mask a fundamental challenge facing governments in conflict situations: how does it deal with defectors? Simply executing combatants, or detaining them indefinitely, aren’t viable options. De-radicalisation and re-integration programmes therefore become unavoidable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nigerian federal troops during an operation against Biafran forces near the town of Ore, Nigeria, in 1967.Credit...Associated Press

Fifty years ago, on Jan. 15, Nigeria’s civil war ended. Fought between the country’s southeast region, which seceded and called itself Biafra, and the rest of the country, which Britain supported and armed, the war was brutal. Over a million people died during three years of conflict. After being starved into submission by a blockade, the Biafrans surrendered and their leaders promised to be “loyal Nigerian citizens.”

Half a century later, the war’s legacy continues to hold Nigeria captive. It simultaneously brings the country together and pushes it apart.

In the early aftermath of the war, the country appeared to be unified.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Imam of the Great Mosque of Niamey, Cheikh Djabir Ismaël(C), who led the funeral prayer, stands in front of the bodies of military personnel at the Niamey Airforce Base in Niamey, on December 13, 2019. AFP/Boureima Hama

What happened in Niger?

On 10 December, assailants struck a Nigerien military camp close to the settlement of Inates on the border with Mali, killing more than 70 soldiers in the deadliest attack on security forces in the country’s history. The Islamic State’s affiliate in Mali and Niger claimed responsibility for the attack. Its fighters reportedly used mortars and kamikaze vehicles to storm the base. In its statement, the Islamic State said it had captured weapons, ammunition, vehicles and even “a number of tanks”. This claim could not be independently confirmed.

The attack by the Islamic State affiliate, which has escalated its campaign in the area around Inates since April, is part of an emerging trend of large-scale jihadist operations against military outposts in the central Sahel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Publié dans Paris Match jeudi 5 décembre, un article signé par Bernard-Henri Lévy lance un SOS pour les chrétiens du Nigeria. Selon lui, les Fulanis musulmans (aussi appelés Peul en Afrique francophone) seraient sur le point de commettre un « génocide » contre les chrétiens du pays. Dans n’importe quelle région du monde, l’accusation est grave. Dans un pays de près de 200 millions d’habitants, composé à peu près pour moitié de chrétiens, on pourrait attendre une recherche sérieuse et approfondie.

Pressions économiques et écologiques

L’article, cependant, est un florilège d’approximations, de clichés et d’erreurs factuelles. Surtout, en inscrivant les événements du Nigeria dans un « choc des civilisations » global, en appelant à une solidarité mal informée, il peut contribuer à attiser les violences et à durcir encore les clivages.…  Seguir leyendo »

Akure’s infrastructure development projects have yet to create space for community participation. Shutterstock

Akure, the medium-sized capital of Ondo State in Southwest Nigeria, has seen its population increase by more than 54% in 13 years. Akure’s population growth is explained by two factors. Ondo State is a part of the Niger Delta, the oil-producing region of Nigeria. In 2006, Akure was classified as a Millennium Development City, as part of its commitment to the eight development goals UN member states agreed to achieve by 2015.

Akure’s population was 360,268 in 2006, according to that year’s National Population and Housing Census. Using a yearly percentage increase of 3.2%, the population of the city in 2019 would be 559,940 people.…  Seguir leyendo »

Casi todos los países cuentan con alguna manera de alcanzar la igualdad de género y empoderar a todas sus mujeres y niñas para 2030, en línea con el Objetivo 5 de Desarrollo Sostenible de las Naciones Unidas. Pero para un país como Nigeria, donde una masculinidad tóxica permea la política, la economía y la sociedad, el reto es particularmente grande.

La masculinidad tóxica describe la adherencia a conductas “varoniles”, como la supresión de las emociones (las que sean distintas a, digamos, la rabia) y la afirmación del dominio sobre los demás. Estas normas afectan a los hombres socializados para ajustarse a ellas, al impedirles explorar el espectro completo de las emociones, conductas e identidades humanas.…  Seguir leyendo »

"Love Does Not Win Elections" by Ayisha Osori (Narrative Landscape Press/Narrative Landscape Press)

What does it take to run for office in Nigeria? Ayisha Osori discovers the answer to this question in her wonderful memoir “Love Does Not Win Elections,” which tells the story of her 2014 primary run for a parliamentary seat in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. In doing so, she weaves a sharp, witty and often infuriating narrative of the ways patronage politics, sexism and ethnicity can confound even the best-prepared candidates.

When she decided to run for Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Osori, a lawyer, opinion columnist and civil society leader, served as chief executive of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), where she worked to increase the involvement and representation of women in politics and other decision-making arenas.…  Seguir leyendo »

La monetización de la basura

De chico, mientras crecía en Lagos, Nigeria, a fines de los años 1990, recuerdo a unas mujeres que deambulaban por mi comunidad cantando en yoruba “onigo de o! Anra bata rubber ati ayo t’on jo”. La traducción es “Ha llegado el botellero. Compramos sandalias de caucho y cacerolas (de aluminio) con agujeros”. Algunas familias separaban sus desechos, porque podían dárselos a estas mujeres a cambio de efectivo.

Hoy hay muchos menos botelleros como estos, quizá porque las compañías embotelladoras ya no reciclan las botellas que juntan las mujeres. Pero, si estuviera coordinado y financiado correctamente, un esfuerzo de gran escala en esta línea para monetizar los desechos en Lagos en principio podría tener un enorme impacto en el problema de basura de la ciudad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muhammadu Buhari, re-elected as president of Nigeria in February, has a second four-year term to revive the economy and address the needs of the country’s ailing oil and gas sector. But to do so, he will need to push through complex regulatory reform and take on deeply entrenched vested interests in politics and industry that have long profited from the status quo, and have significant capacity to resist change.

Oil production remains lower than it was 15 years ago. State-owned refineries operate at a fraction of their capacity, and Nigeria has struggled to remain competitive in a global market where heavy crude is driven by US sanctions and light sweet crude dominated by US shale.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nigerian soldiers on patrol in February. Photo: Getty Images.

Nigeria’s stubborn security challenges will be a thorn in the side of Muhammadu Buhari, who won a second term as Nigeria’s commander-in-chief in the February presidential election.

Dire security conditions persist. In the northeast, Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) conduct deadly attacks on civilian and military targets. Little has been done to address widespread rural banditry and rising communal conflict, especially violence between herders and farmers. Local grievances in the oil-rich Niger Delta remain unresolved.

Successive political leaders have postponed much-needed security sector reform, while corruption has become entrenched in the sector, sustaining an ineffective and abusive security apparatus.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters hold banners during a demonstration against the suspension of governorship elections in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on March 11. (Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images)

In the run-up to the recent elections in Nigeria, an article in Quartz Africa declared that “it’s become much harder to rig elections in Nigeria thanks to technology.” Looking on from about 3,000 miles away, Kenyans would be excused for stifling a laugh. The two countries share a history of electoral malpractice, and technology had been hailed as a guarantor of the credibility and integrity of the election in Kenya as well. The reality, however, turned out to be quite different. As the dust settles on Nigeria’s elections amid reports of technology failures and violence, it is clear that digital elections are no panacea.…  Seguir leyendo »

A campaign poster for President Muhammadu Buhari, who is running for re-election. Credit Ben Curtis/Associated Press

Nigeria has come a long way from 1999 when the army handed over power to a democratically elected government, but the bar must rise from simply conducting marginally free and fair elections and having scheduled transitions.

After being postponed for a week by the national electoral body for “logistics and operational problems,” national elections will be held in Nigeria on Saturday. President Muhammadu Buhari, 76, is vying for re-election as the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

Mr. Buhari, a former military dictator, refashioned himself as a reformed democrat and won the presidency in 2015 as the candidate of a grand opposition coalition.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman checks her name in voting lists at the Independent Electoral Comission Office in Jimeta on 16 February 2019. Nigeria's electoral watchdog postponed presidential and parliamentary elections for one week, just hours before polls were due to open. Luis Tato/AFP

What happened?

Nigeria’s 84 million voters were set to vote in presidential and federal legislative elections on 16 February. But at 2.40 am that day, just over five hours before polling stations were to open, the nation’s election management agency, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), postponed the balloting. INEC’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, announced a one-week delay to 23 February. He also said gubernatorial and state legislative votes would be rescheduled from 2 to 9 March.

Was there any forewarning of the delay?

The postponement came as a surprise. INEC had repeatedly told both Nigerians and international observers that it was fully prepared to bring off the elections according to schedule.…  Seguir leyendo »

La decisión de posponer la elección presidencial en Nigeria –tomada pocas horas antes de la apertura prevista de los centros de votación– suscitó temores por la integridad del futuro comicio. Es necesario que esos temores no se hagan realidad, y no sólo por el bien de Nigeria. Así como una democracia fuerte y estable en el país más poblado de África puede dar un poderoso ejemplo a la región, una crisis política tendría graves consecuencias mucho más allá de sus fronteras.

África occidental, hogar de unos 362 millones de personas, está en camino hacia la consolidación democrática. Según Freedom House, “África austral y occidental han mejorado significativamente la gobernanza democrática”, una tendencia que afianzó la estabilidad en la región.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) take part in a demonstration against the detention of their leader Ibrahim Zakzaky in Abuja, Nigeria, on Jan. 22. (Sodiq Adelakun/AFP/Getty Images)

The Nigerian government appears to be taking a hard line on religious opposition — though not against the usual suspects. Even as the Boko Haram insurgency persists in the north, peaceful demonstrations by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) sparked a recent round of state repression.

In late October, protests in and around the capital left at least 45 IMN members dead and more than another 100 wounded after Nigerian security forces used automatic weapons to disperse the crowds. Government officials claim they were responding to the protesters’ assault on a military convoy. IMN rejects this account and insists its members were engaged in peaceful demonstrations calling for the release of their ailing leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, from prison.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘One unlikely candidate was Oby Ezekwesili, a former education minister, who champions the Bring Back Our Girls movement in Nigeria.’ Photograph: Sodiq Adelakun/AFP/Getty Images

Who would want to be president of Nigeria? Well, once upon a time, me. When I was 19, I set out my manifesto on the BBC Africa website. Some of my campaign promises included quality education, constant electricity and running water for all. I planned to use my honest smile as my most efficient tool to win votes and secure the presidency.

By 21 I’d set my sights a little lower. After some research, I discovered that local government was the most effective place to implement real change. So I decided that by 30 I was going to be a local government chair in Lagos, my home state.…  Seguir leyendo »

An internally displaced person camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria, like the one that houses Zahra and Amina. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP

Zahra and Amina seem like lucky survivors of the scourge of northeastern Nigeria, the jihadist movement known as Boko Haram. Both were wives of fighters. Zahra escaped by agreeing to detonate an explosive vest that the militants strapped to her. After walking miles to her intended target, a government checkpoint, she turned herself over to soldiers. Amina fled with her three children after her husband was killed in battle.

Today, both women live in a camp for survivors of the conflict in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. When I met them on a recent research trip to the city, the last thing I expected to hear was that they wanted to rejoin the insurgents.…  Seguir leyendo »