These renewed attacks by MEND indicate that the amnesty program, which offers salaries and job training, was only a temporary palliative. Buying off a few fighters simply opens up positions for new recruits to join MEND. In terms of the elections, it will be interesting to see how renewed violence affects the message that candidates send to voters, although most believe Seriake Henry Dickson already has a win secured.
Originally posted on Sahel Blog:
The Niger Delta is back in the news, both for the (alleged?) return of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND – read a backgrounder here) and for the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa State, which was the site of a bitter primary election in November. Different sources give different views on how closely the recent oil violence is connected to Bayelsa’s electoral calendar. But clearly the Niger Delta is facing renewed political tension and renewed violence at the same time.
Nigeria last held national elections, including gubernatorial contests, in April 2011, but since then various governors have faced court challenges to their legitimacy. Some have won and remained in office, but others have not. On January 27, the Supreme Court removed five governors from office (for the back story, see here). The situation in one of these states, Kogi, is complicated by the fact that the state held a new election even before the ruling. But the other four states are holding gubernatorial elections this month. Adamawa State, in the Northeast, went already on February 4, and delivered a win for Nigeria’s ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Sokoto State, in the Northwest, will go to the polls on February 18. But before that, two Niger Delta states – Bayelsa and Cross River – will hold elections on February 11. For an overview of the political situation in each state, see here.
Bayelsa State has attracted considerable attention because of the bitterness of the primary there and because it is the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan. Bayelsa has been under the control of the PDP since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, but that does not mean the state’s politics are dull. In 1999, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha became governor, with Jonathan as his deputy. Alamieyeseigha was re-elected in 2003, but in 2005 he was arrested in London on charges of money laundering and was impeached. Jonathan became governor, only to be selected as vice-president in 2007 – and the rest of Jonathan’s story is well known. Back in Bayelsa, Timipre Sylva was elected governor in 2007, but faced a challenge in 2008 and had to contest a re-run election, which he won.