Released on 14/01/2019
This is the fifth edition of Niger Delta Watch 2019. Across the region the electoral campaigns appear to be less intense and with fewer resources than in the same period in 2011 and 2015. There is some variability to this, with more visible campaigning in Akwa Ibom State while Rivers has the most obvious drop in campaign activity compared to earlier periods. Akwa Ibom also had the most obvious incidents of political violence with one APC youth leader attacked and abducted for his activities while a PDP leader had his house burnt down. There were also reports of a clash between APC and PDP supporters where allegations of injury to Aman Nkanga indicate how swiftly incidents can escalate to impact on nationally relevant figures – Nkanga is the younger brother of Idongesit Nkanga, the present chairman of PANDEF, a high-level Niger Delta group engaging with the Federal Government on regional grievances and development demands.
Rivers had two deaths over Christmas that seem to continue the mix of gang and political violence. Incidents of violence have been sporadic and limited but with background concerns persisting about the neutrality of security services and violence immediately around the elections.
On December 18, Bayelsa welcomed yet another Police Commissioner, Joseph Mukan, who is technically the ninth Commissioner in the four months since the problem of revolving commissioners began.
The highest profile issue regionally over the past week was the Federal High Court in Rivers adding to the prior state court ruling on the ongoing case of the APC primaries, this time explicitly ruling that neither faction of the APC has candidates for the 2019 elections and issuing an injunction against INEC. The Electoral Commission now faces the difficult task of weighing rulings against ongoing appeals and publishing a final list of candidates for the elections on January 17. Even more difficult will be the task of explaining its decision to audiences who will assume bias whichever way they rule.
In Bayelsa, during the last reporting week and Christmas period, most reports were of relatively normal campaign events, cash being offered, and also local examples of stakeholders mounting pressure for politicians and their supporters to keep the peace.
In Delta, during the last reporting week, most reports also related to politicians distributing cash and gifts amidst otherwise relatively normal campaigns. The Governor was reported repeating allegations of the APC planning violence immediately around the elections. This also links to simmering fears about the disposition of the police with a new Police Commissioner, Anthony Okpezi, appointed at the start of December.
Read the report in full.