Malleable Musings

May 7, 2010

Goodluck Jonathan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brendan @ 6:16 pm

It’s been a bit of a bizarre week.  From Tuesday to Thursday I was in meetings with some Greek colleagues, supposedly talking about the future. Given the current uncertainty in Greece such future-gazing was obviously very, very difficult.

We spent quite a bit of time talking about the upcoming UK election that happened yesterday. I explained the first past the post system and that I thought that the UK may be about to experience some uncertain times – given the likelihood of a hung parliament. The one thing they couldn’t understand why the election wasn’t taking place at the weekend and yesterday morning they were amazed to hear that I had voted at a few minutes past seven.

That evening, after my visitors had returned back to a Athens, I took a romantic stroll back to the polling station with my wife so that she could vote.  Sometime just after 9.30pm she voted and raised the turnout for that polling station to a whopping 50%, apparently the ward finished the night at 56% whilst the constituency finished only a little higher at 59.4%.

Later that night I heard about the voting irregularities that were happening elsewhere in the country and was reminded about the furore around hanging chads in the US Presidential Race of 2000 .  The (Wednesday?) morning that the story of the Florida debacle was breaking I was sat in Asaba, Delta State “the Big Heart” of Nigeria. I was meant to be providing some feedback to the State Governor on the initial scoping I had done for a project but instead along with all of the members of the Delta State Government I was sat in a sleek black leather chair glued to CNN cheering Al Gore on.   I distinctly remember the room breaking down in laughter when the now seemingly disgraced Governor, James Ibori, said something like, “Maybe we should have sent our electoral commission.  You’d never get this happening in Nigeria!”

Then today I had lunch with staff from the Nigerian PTDF and a current Nigerian PhD student who told me that he heard that this UK election was being observed by a Commonwealth team that included Nigerians from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).  Crazy eh!

(In other news, I flicked back through some of my notes from my times in Nigeria last night and I realised that I’ve actually met their new President who was sworn in yesterday.  It was near the start of 2000 when I was working on another project, the best description of which is probably given by Dr Sese, for the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University.  I remember the State Governor, who came to a similar end to Mr Ibori, slightly better than Goodluck Jonathan, the then Deputy State Governor.  In fact, most of my memories of my short time in Yenegoa relate to crazy motorbike rides on potholed roads in endless rain, queues of people that stretched on for miles, and the most flea bitten run down hotel it has ever been my pleasure to stay in. A dark damp room with a broken window and fan, no curtains, no running water and permanent electrical cuts.  It was all made bearable by the incredible warmth and drive of the staff I was working with, especially Prof. Buseri, the newly appointed VC.)

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