Tag Archives: Debates

Nigeria’s 2015 Elections: The Debates Must Go On

kwara-debate

Just over two weeks ago, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made the shocking (but not entirely surprising) decision to delay the country’s elections by six weeks. Citing ongoing instability caused by Boko Haram in the country’s Northeast and INEC’s own uncertainty about its ability to deliver outstanding voter cards to nearly 40 percent of the country’s 70 million registered voters, the decision to delay has divided opinions.

On one hand, there is doubt that Nigeria’s woefully inept security forces could provide the kind of protection voters need, and the potential disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters due to violence would not bode well for a country making efforts to become a more genuine democracy.  On the other hand, there is little reason to believe the military will be ready to both take out Boko Haram and create a secure voting environment in just six weeks. Furthermore, given the high stakes in the race between current President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari – in the closest and most hotly contested since the end of military rule in 1999 – many are interpreting the election delay as politically motivated.

What is interesting about most of the dialogue currently surrounding the elections, however, is that it is largely focused at the center. Indeed, think tanks and election-oversight bodies have released study after study with polling data and predictions for presidential electoral outcomes, as well as scenarios for how the elections will impact an already delicate security situation across the country.

Though much of the international community is focused on the preparations for and outcome of the presidential contest now scheduled for March 28 , there is very little conversation about the state level elections taking place two weeks later on April 11.

While the national level race is certainly interesting and important, the top issues facing Nigerian voters must ultimately be dealt with locally. Economic empowerment through job creation is a prime example. Despite Nigeria’s substantial oil revenues, the country nonetheless suffers from massive unemployment and income inequality – the primary factors contributing to endemic poverty, low quality of life, and the growth of insecurity.

The solutions for boosting employment and opportunities for Nigeria’s poor and disenfranchised will not come from the Presidency. State and local governments will need to work in coordination with local businesses to create an enabling environment for small, medium, and large enterprises to thrive.  Therefore, the outcome of state elections will have as much (if not more) impact on the daily lives of Nigerians than the contest for the presidency.

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Kenya’s Aspiring Governors Debate the Economy

kam-debate

Candidates for Governor of Nakuru, Dr. Francis Kirangi and Lawrence Bomet engage in KAM-hosted economic debates.

While the recent presidential debates in Kenya are being hailed as a success, a newly-created political office could have a decidedly more powerful influence on the lives of Kenya’s 40 million residents: County Governors.

In order to learn about the platforms of candidates for these new positions and ensure that issues critical to the private sector are addressed, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), with CIPE support, is running a series of gubernatorial debates focusing on economic issues.

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Global go-to think tanks: The CIPE partners

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania released its 2010 rankings of think tanks around the world in January. The report identifies 6,480 think tanks in the world and notes the growing impact of policy research organizations, especially “as catalysts for political and economic reform.” Many CIPE partners are included among the leading 25 think tanks from each region; we congratulate them for their performance. Here are a few examples of how think tanks have been working with CIPE to improve democratic policymaking.

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Ghana’s Historic Presidential Debates

With the post-election violence in Kenya an all too recent memory and as Zimbabwe continues to slip into a downward spiral after its most recent elections, Ghana’s December 7 elections could be a breath of fresh air for Africa. This is the first time in Ghanaian history that all major parties are taking part in televised presidential debates.

Today, Ghana’s four presidential candidates will sit before a record-setting television and radio audience for the second and final round before the elections. Today’s debate will address governance and social issues following the October 29 debate, which focused primarily on the economy and energy. Knowledge of the candidates’ platforms will help Ghanaians make an educated presidential choice not along ethnic lines, monetary handouts, or coercion, but based on policy.

The first round of debates on October 28th in Accra were an overwhelming success. They reached a record-breaking number of people – between 10 to 20 million with exact numbers difficult to determine. The debate was substantive, focused, and provided concrete policy positions. For example, on the economy and energy, My Joy Online reported:

In tandem with his party’s philosophy, Nana Akufo-Addo said the private sector was critical in dealing with the question of job creation….He said small and medium scale enterprises in the country should be supported because they are the main providers of jobs.

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