Nigeria Preps for Vote, and Reassures Allies

Next month, Nigeria will hold elections that could mark the nation's first transition from one democratically elected government to another. Nigeria is a major oil-supplier to the United States, which is monitoring the vote. A Nigerian official recently visited Washington to reassure investors and administration officials that the elections would be free and fair.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Nigeria also happens to be a major oil producer and a key player in peacekeeping operations in Africa. No wonder the U.S. will be closely monitoring elections there in April. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Nasir el-Rufai is a presidential appointee who runs the capital, Abuja. On a recent trip here to the U.S., his job was to reassure American businesses and officials that Nigeria is ready for the first transition from one elected democracy to another.

Mr. NASIR EL-RUFAI (Minister, Abuja Federal Capital Territory): We have a duty and a responsibility to ensure that each and every election that we prosecute gets better.

KELEMEN: Past elections have been marred by vote fraud, and el-Rufai says registration this time got off to a rocky start.

Mr. EL-RUFAI: We brought in thousands of HP laptops with biometric software, such that every person that is registered, we also took his fingerprints. But we had problems with the number of machines and the fact that Nigeria has challenges with electricity.

KELEMEN: That's not the only challenge. Nigeria is one of the world's most corrupt countries, and some candidates accuse President Olusegun Obasanjo of using an anti-corruption campaign to go after opponents. El-Rufai denies this.

Mr. EL-RUFAI: Even within our ruling party, when a governor is indicted for corruption, he says it's because he's not friendly with President Obasanjo, but we're in the same party. In Nigeria, everyone is innocent. Everyone tries to attribute a reason for his misconduct.

KELEMEN: He's been supporting President Obasanjo's hand-picked successor, one of five leading candidates. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: