The national elections in Nigeria 2011 were labelled the freest and fairest in the history of the Nigerian democracy. Every election so far had been accompanied by violence but the outbreaks in Northern Nigeria 2011 reached a new level and are a testimony to the grievances in the region and the rising tension. Especially young adults were part of the crisis.
Dr. Ike Okonta and the New Centre for Social Research have conducted a study on youth restiveness in Northern Nigeria. They highlighted the general disenfranchisement of a generation and made a strong case for the inclusion of youths into the political process. During the public launch of the paper guests from civil society organisations, security agencies and human rights activists from northern and central Nigeria joined in a review and a debate on the subject.
Topics of discussion were the triggers of the violence as well as the root causes, being identified as unemployment, deficits in education and discrimination based on religion, ethnicity or socio- economic class. The frustration that started the violence was linked to the performance of the political elite not being able to integrate the diverse Nigerian society and corruption cases. According to one of the panellists, it is questionable whether the violence really was as spontaneous as described. One reason for the escalation was the late and hesitant reaction of the security forces.
To prevent similar events in 2015 the security institutions will have to be better prepared but more importantly a fair distribution of Nigeria’s wealth and the inclusions of all parts have to be priorities on the political agenda. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will have to ensure fair elections and be transparent in doing so to prevent more emerging mistrust.