International Crisis Group has an informative Q&A on the recent Boko Haram university attack in Yobe. They are coming out with a full report on Boko Haram mid-March.
In the early hours of Tuesday 25 February, about 50 gunmen from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram stormed a co-educational, federal government boarding school in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, about 65km from the state capital, Damaturu. The attackers locked a dormitory and set it on fire, killing many students inside. Students who tried to escape were shot or knifed to death. In all, there were 59 fatalities; all killed were males; some female students were abducted, others ordered to quit school and go get married or be killed in future attacks. The school’s 24 buildings were completely burned down.
What are the [general] implications for the 2015 elections?
The Independent National Electoral Commission warned in December 2013 that it might not be able to conduct elections in the three states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) under emergency rule if the attacks continue into next year. These states are among sixteen in which the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is quite strong. Some opposition politicians are already alleging that Jonathan is allowing the poor security situation to persist, or even deteriorate, in order not to hold polls in those states. A general or presidential election that leaves out these three states could give Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) a significant advantage at the polls. If Jonathan wins re-election that way, the opposition will likely vigorously challenge his victory; the 2011 post-election violence in the north killed more than 1,000.
However, conversely, there are those who believe the government’s management of the conflict reflects poorly on the Jonathan administration and therefore continued attacks could dim the president’s chances of re-election.
Katie Rhine, a an anthropologist from University of Kansas and my moral compass/guiding light/model researcher/inspiration in Nigeria, tells us how to avoid being extorted on the road in Lagos. She first explains how to avoid getting pulled over in the first place, and then offers step-by-step instructions to diffuse the situation. Some excerpts:
Step Six: Ask the police man, “Well, what can we do?” He will say he has to call his oga [boss]. He will ask you for an exorbitant amount of money [Say 50,000 naira (~$420)]. Tell him that the government gave him this job because they have complete faith in him that he is a responsible and competent person. Tell him that there is no need to call his boss. This is also a good time to try and let him know that you too would have to call your oga at the top [boss], and neither of you want to delay one another, when the matter can be settled between the two of you.
Step Seven: Pull out the wallet you keep inside your dashboard explicitly for these occasions. Keep a few thousand naira in there at most. Show him this wallet and tell him that this is all the money that you have, and even then, you can’t give him all of it, because [and point at your fuel gauge] you are going to need to buy petrol along the way (or any other need for this money that you can think of). And, in addition, this isn’t even your money. It’s the money your boss gave you in case an emergency happens on the road. In fact, you are going to have to account for that money when you reach the office, but you think you can take care of that inconsistency. Offer him 1000 naira.
Step Eight: He may tell you that that is not enough and that you should carry him to the ATM machine to take out money for him. In this case, you should tell him that you don’t use those things. As a foreigner, say they won’t work for you. In fact, your employer takes care of these needs and doesn’t leave you with cash. Try not to let the negotiation to reach the point of going to an ATM. Tell him to please just take the money you have.
Step Nine: Give whatever money is in your wallet. If you only lose 2000 naira or so, you should feel ok about yourself. You tried.
Nigerians make up less than 1 percent of the black population in the United States, yet in 2013 nearly one-quarter of the black students at Harvard Business School were of Nigerian ancestry; over a fourth of Nigerian-Americans have a graduate or professional degree, as compared with only about 11 percent of whites.
From this NYT op-ed. H/t to Eliot.
On a side road that vehicles take to get around traffic on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, this man pushes up low-hanging wires with a bamboo stick so that trucks can pass through.
If you are looking to be affiliated with an institution while conducting research in Lagos, I strongly recommend considering the Center for Public Policy Alternatives (CPPA), a think tank in City Hall (centrally located on Lagos Island). CPPA is looking for interns in masters-level programs, doctoral students, or affiliated researchers who possess strong statistical and data management skills and are able to assist with statistical analysis and conduct statistics-related trainings with their staff. They are also looking for people with strong writing skills. In return, CPPA could provide a small stipend for interns (doctoral students must be self- or grant-funded), office space (their offices are gorgeous, air conditioned, and have fast internet) and research support, such as contacts and advice. Periods of stay for visiting researchers and interns range from 3-12 months. There might be opportunities for travel within sub-Saharan Africa, which would be financed by CPPA.
CPPA especially welcomes interest from people who do research on one of their focus areas:
-Food and agribusiness
I have worked with CPPA, and it’s a great professional environment with enthusiastic and smart colleagues. If interested, contact Dr. Pacheco: firstname.lastname@example.org, and info@cpparesearch.
Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo of Sahara Reporters imagines two okada drivers discussing Nigeria’s 2014 budget. H/t to Jonathan.
Driver No1: They budgeted N872 million for generators in Nigerian embassies around the world including embassies in Washington and New York. Me, I never enter plane before but I know say NEPA no dey take power for New York the way dey take power for here in Oshodi.
Driver No2: They think say we be mumu.
Driver No1: It hasn’t finished o. The president is asking for N1.6 billion for Baylsea state.
Driver No2: For wetin?
Driver No1: To connect the state to the national grid.
Driver No2: Ok. That one good now.
Driver No1: But people say the job was completed in 2006.
Driver No2: So na ghost contract be that.
Lagos State Governor Babtunde Fashola extolled against what he sees as wasteful spending among Lagosians in a recent speech:
It is waste of a degree that, if we curtailed it, will provide enough in savings to fight and reduce poverty. I cannot categorise all of it, but we live through it every day and I will only refer to some examples to illustrate what I mean.
Are you aware that each text message you send costs N5 on average? How many text messages do you send to wish people a happy new year, happy new day, happy new week, happy new Friday, happy new Sunday and happy new month?
How many people did you send them to and how many days a week do you send them? Please do the arithmetic and see how much it comes to in a year and how much food it could have provided for your family. How many people did you invite and feed at your child’s wedding or the funeral of a deceased relative?
Could you really afford it? How many of the people you invited are your relatives, friends or people you know? Would the wedding or funeral still have held if you invited fewer people? Did you borrow money for the event or were you broke or short of cash after the event?
Could you fairly and honestly complain that the economy is bad if you make the choice to be extravagant? Beyond a grave, coffin, shroud and officiating minister, what does it take to bury our dead? How many of your cousins, friends, relations have come to seek assistance for as little as N100, 000 to start a business from you?
As governor, Fashola might not need to text people happy new year to maintain social bonds. But for most Nigerians this is a credible and relatively inexpensive way to signal an investment in a relationship. How will a young man get that N100,000 loan from his uncle if he hasn’t stayed in touch over the years? Maybe the funeral thing is more complicated, but Fashola’s stance on SMS greetings seems privileged and wrong.
Elnathan John on Nigeria’s 2014 budget:
Looking through the 2014 budget, I discovered that over 830million will be used by the Federal Government to run generators. Yet Jonathan swears by the creeks in his village that by 2014 Nigerians will have power. I don’t understand this. This is just like a man of god who claims to heal sickness and raise dead people, travelling around with bodyguards, a personal doctor and huge first aid kit.