Contrasting elections in France and Nigeria

Elections in France and Nigeria unfortunately provide a contrast between one of the oldest democracies in Europe and a new but still stumbling democracy in Africa. Elections in France are the centre of attention as, for the first time, there are candidates who have never been presidents after Jack Chirac decided not to stand again. In Nigeria, Pt Olusegun Obasanjo can’t stand as constitutionally he can’t stand two terms.

What is interesting in these elections is that in France, debates are hot and peaceful. In Nigeria, there are mutual accusations of fraud and other irregularities, not to mention violence leading to death.

In France, it took decades for it to become a full-fledged democracy after the establishment of the Fifth Republic and the seizure of power by De Gaulle. Nigeria is still a young democracy, still struggling to have full civil power as the military still have political and economic power. They change just uniforms with plain clothes. But the military mentality is still gripping government style.

Nigeria because of its oil and population is a considerable regional power. But it is still setting a bad example to other African countries. Surprisingly, small sates in Africa like Senegal and Mauritania, despite their scarce resources, look more democratic than it.

So the excitement regarding the elections in France is still about whether Royal will be the first female president. Maybe the question will stop being asked this Sunday if she doesn’t qualify for the second round. Breath will continue being held if she passes for the second round. For Nigeria, the expectation will be how this big country will keep holding together. In case the proclaimed winner is unrecognized by his opponents,this can plunge the country in public unrest until the Nigerians resign to the reality of power in their country when the government and the people each go to their own business till another round of elections spark national and international interest.

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