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WCED Roundtable. Nigeria’s Elections: Democracy and Disillusionment

Omolade Adunbi, associate professor of Afroamerican and African studies, U-M; Adrienne LeBas, associate professor of government, American University; Dan Slater, WCED director

Nigeria's Elections Nigeria's Elections
In 2015, Nigerian voters elected a new party for the first time since democratic transition in 1999. Foreign observers hailed the election as a watershed moment for Nigerian democracy and applauded the performance of the country's electoral commission. Many Nigerians hoped that President Muhammadu Buhari would take muscular action against government corruption, economic recession, and the Boko Haram insurgency. Four years later, the Buhari administration's performance has been mixed. Some progress has been made in the northeast against Boko Haram, but rule of law is worsening in other parts of the country. Corruption remains endemic, and state governments struggle to pay salaries in the wake of federal budget cuts. At the same time, a new generation of reformist governors is trying to chart a new path at the state level, while the country's electoral commission has invested in technology in hopes that it can tamp down on ballot fraud and violence.

This panel will examine the prospects for 2019's elections. Will the ruling All Progressives Congress hold onto power? What issues will shape Nigerian voters' choices? What dynamics at the local level are the most important factors to watch? And, most fundamentally, will these elections reflect the will of the Nigerian electorate, or will money and violence continue to play an outsized role in Nigerians' electoral choices?

Omolade Adunbi is a political anthropologist and an assistant professor of Afroamerican and African studies at the University of Michigan. His areas of research explore issues related to resource distribution, governance, human and environmental rights, power, culture, transnational institutions, multinational corporations and the postcolonial state. His latest book, "Oil Wealth and Insurgency in Nigeria" (Indiana University Press, 2015) addresses issues related to oil wealth, multinational corporations, transnational institutions, NGOs and violence in oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

Adrienne LeBas is an associate professor of government at American University. She was previously a Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and assistant professor of political science and African studies at Michigan State University. Her research interests include social movements, democratization, and political violence. LeBas is the author of the award-winning "From Protest to Parties: Party-Building and Democratization in Africa" (Oxford University Press, 2011) and articles in the British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Democracy, Comparative Politics, and elsewhere. LeBas also worked as a consultant for Human Rights Watch in Zimbabwe, where she lived from 2002-03.

Dan Slater specializes in the politics and history of enduring dictatorships and emerging democracies, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia. He is the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professor of Emerging Democracies, professor of political science, and director of the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan. Previously he was director of the Center for International Social Science Research (CISSR), associate professor in the Department of Political Science, and associate member in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. His book manuscript examining how divergent historical patterns of contentious politics have shaped variation in state power and authoritarian durability in seven Southeast Asian countries, entitled "Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia," was published in the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series in 2010.

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When and Where

Map Weiser Hall - 1010

January 2019

4:00pm - 5:30pm

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