Any swift transition to democratic rule in Sudan could further deepen tensions that already exist in the country. While the protestors’ demands and momentum represent a milestone for Sudan, the country faces several crucial challenges before it can transition to democracy.
Nigeria: The people’s manifesto
To go beyond the grand promises, The Africa Report canvassed Nigerians from across the country for their top priorities. Read extracts from the people’s seven-point manifesto for Nigeria ahead of Presidential elections on 16 April.
Fighting crime and corruption to create a safer, fairer country
“The number one priority for all the people who call in to the show is security,” says Adeola Austin Oyinlade, who hosts Know your Constitution on a Lagos radio station. “From arbitrary detention by police, to police demanding bribes at all levels of society, to general violence, people are desperate to know their rights.”
Areas of concern range from walking home safely and allowing the kids to play outside, to students targeted by criminals in their dormitories and running the kidnapper gauntlet in Imo, Abia and Edo States. ”Nigerians deserve better,” argues Oyinlade.
Nigeria’s police are the top target for change across the country. Far from protecting citizens from crime and physical attack, Nigerian police are accused of arbitrary beatings and colluding in crime and corruption.
Serious reform of Nigeria’s police – which means providing effective security and investigating corporate and political corruption – would amount to a social revolution, according to Nuhu Ribadu, the presidential candidate for the Action Congress of Nigeria in April’s elections. Having fought to become an assistant inspector general of police, Ribadu talks from bitter experience of the way the police force has been eroded from within by a corrupt and incompetent leadership.
Beyond the tapping on car windows by officers demanding bribes, there are the shakedowns and petty extortions exacted by state officials, even teachers and doctors. For pharmacist Ikenna Mbonu, it creates a “cycle of unaccountability”.
This impunity is found at all levels, from the executive down, says Mohamed Ndaliman of Niger State, who points to the “recent withdrawing of corruption cases like those against Haliburton and Siemens, as well as against ruling PDP [People’s Democratic Party] officials.”
The soldiers who ran the country during the 1980s and 1990s saw the police as a threat and undermined it. By 1999, there were just 120,000 police officers – roughly one per 1,000 Nigerians. This compares to one policeman per 500 in Indonesia. With no investment, the police turned from gamekeeper to poacher.
The judiciary and prison services are just as overburdened. By the beginning of 2008, 25,789 of the 38,252 prisoners in Nigerian jails were waiting for their trials to begin – some for up to ten years – according to Amnesty International.
Security problems go far beyond the police. They are rooted in the country’s political crises: the clashes in the Niger Delta which have caught citizens in the crossfire between the state’s military taskforce and the sundry militia groups. Successive state governors and federal officials have failed to tackle worsening environmental devastation and spiralling unemployment.
General Olusegun Obasanjo, supported as a civilian president in 1999 partly because of his military expertise, tried to crush militia groups pushing religious and ethnic agendas but failed to tackle the national crisis of governance. In return for delivering votes, state governors maintained their immunity from prosecution despite the best efforts of the Economic and Financial Corruption Commission (EFCC), which investigated all but three of 36 state governors in 2006.
Anti-corruption efforts are critical: together, the EFCC’s efforts and central bank governor Lamido Sanusi’s purge of five bank chief executives have changed the climate.
The impunity of godfathers and rogue governors will need more than one agency to clean them up. A historical confrontation with the past is essential, according to professor Monday Mangwat, former vice-chancellor of the University of Jos, who sees much of the religious violence in Plateau State “fundamentally as a political problem.