An Election Postponed in Nigeria

February 9, 2015 8:25 PM

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Nigeria’s electoral commission has delayed the Presidential election, which was to occur this Saturday, by six weeks in order for the military to launch an operation to secure the northeast from Boko Haram and guarantee the safety of voters in the region. President Goodluck Jonathan, whose government is undeniably corrupt and who could well lose the election to his challenger, the former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, stands to benefit from the postponement. It’s true that people in the northeast would find it difficult to vote: more than a million and a half of them have fled their homes, while others are living under Boko Haram occupation or have been warned by the Islamist terrorists not to participate in the election. It’s also true that Boko Haram’s insurgency began almost six years ago. If the government can neutralize the group in just six weeks, what has taken so long?

Given the current crisis, it’s time for a reckoning with the country’s divisions. When Britain brought together ethnic groups with no particular allegiance to each other to form Nigeria in the early twentieth century, it set the stage for intensely ethnic politicking that continues today. Most Niger...

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