Saturday, February 16, 2019

Postponement Of Nigeria's General Elections Until February 23, 2019

Nigeria's 2019 Elections: Voting Factoids As Polls Open Within 24hours - Its A Young Voters' Election!

 FEEEDS Blogpost below was written prior to announcement February 15 by Nigeria's Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the general elections until February 23, 2019

As Nigeria's 84 million registered voters prepare to go the polls in Nigeria's 36 states, in addition to the politics, desire for peaceful elections, and concerns about securing in certain areas of the country, there are some basic election factoids, that we need be aware of as Africa's most populous country begins 2019 election day in less than 24 hours from now.  Many of these voter and voting factoids will have an impact of vote count given that 2 of Nigeria's six regions have the largest number of registered voters.  Previous February 14, 2019, blog on Nigeria's election entitled Nigeria's Election & Beyond, " focused not only on the implications for this year's elections, but also the challenges and opportunities for Nigeria beyond the elections. In addition it is important to have a fuller picture of how regional populations and their respective registered voter numbers will both affect the dynamics and the outcome of this important election:

Some Quick Country Facts:
-- Population stats on Nigeria can be wide ranging, but no doubt it is the Africa Region's most populated nation with research numbers ranging from 190-195 million people in 2019.* Since Nigeria has not had an official census since 2006, for a number of political and ethnic reasons, the most recent research figures on the country falls within this range, although the 200 million figure was recently reported by media, but as of yet, no research source that supports that figure as of today (February 15, 2018);

-- Nigeria is politically and economically zoned into "Six Geo-Political Regions" - Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast, and South-South, and along with these is the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). These regional breakdowns are important because of where certain ethnic and political allegiances might lie and the respective size of their the regional populations. But in this election, this breakdown is even more important because it will be key to examine the following:  where the largest number of registered voters as well as the largest block of young people are; where the difficult human indicators (meaning poverty indicators) are; and, where and how these figures might effect the outcome of this election. President Buhari, of the All Peoples Congress Party (APC) is 76 years of age, and the main opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar is 72. Their platforms to boost jobs, cut corruption, encourage foreign investment, address problems with infrastructure, power, energy, etc., and improve security are not that different from each other, although the former has a current record which can be examined, and the other a historical one from having served as the country's vice president from 1999-2007. Here are some answers to the above questions on why regional breakdowns are going to be key**:

-- Northwest (where current incumbent, President Buhari hails) has greatest number of registered voters for this election with over 21 million;
-- Southwest (where the current vice president, Oluyemi Osinbajo is from) follows with 16 million registered voters;
-- Northeast (where the leading opposition candidate from the People Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar is from)  has one of the smallest number of registered voters with slightly over 11 million;
-- Southeast (where the opposition vice presidential candidate, Peter Obi, is from) has 10 million registered voters
-- South-South has 12 million registered voters;
-- North-Central has 13 million registered voters; and
-- Federal Capital Territory (FCT), location of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, has 1.3 million registered voters.

Voter Profile:

Despite the large number of registered voters - some 84 million of which more than 42 million are between the ages of 18-35 years, and with the Independent Nigeria Election Commission (INEC) establishing 176,996 polling places (including for IDP's), the mood in the country among older voters appears to have turned more apathetic in the last six months, on top of some being worried about security in their areas, particularly in both the Northeast and Northwest regions, albeit, for different reasons. In the Northeast, it is gang and militia-related, and in the Northwest it is Boko Haram-connected. There are security concerns in the South-South and Southeast linked to various Niger Delta groups, or peri-groups, but not to the extent that security issues persist in the Northern areas. Voter turnout will be paramount, critically by young voters, as Nigerian election law calls for  a candidate to win at least 25 percent of votes cast in two-thirds of the states. Equally important, this will be a young voters election.

So where are most of these young voters concentrated? Yes, you guessed it  -- in the Northeast and Southwest -- where the largest number of registered voters exist.  This election -- despite the political rhetoric and platforms -- will come down to arithmetic and arithmetic by region based on the young voter, and young voter turnout. Whomever wins, will have won as a result of their turnout numbers, their desire to see their country move forward more  in every social, political, and economic aspect, and their reasoning as to which candidate can do it -- not only better, but faster.

FEEEDS Series BlogSpot

** CGTN Africa Live, Ddeji Bades, February 15, 2019, 1p.m.
**numbers rounded to nearest million

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Gallup Interviews Dr. Sanders on Nigeria Upcoming Elections & Issue Beyond Elections

Interview Questions by Gallup &; Article first published by Gallup on February 13, 2019, and republished in*

"A Conversation With Robin R. Sanders CEO-FEEEDS, former U.S. ambassador to Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Congo, and U.S. Permanent Representative to ECOWAS "

What has changed in Nigeria since the last election?

Over the course of the past two elections, particularly in 2015, Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has greatly improved its ability to execute and administer elections, including preparations, cleaning up election rolls, improving voter registration and education processes (especially with young voters), and establishing a fixed timetable for both the presidential and governors' elections, and even encouraging up throughout pre-election week registered voters (via text and media) to get out and vote. There are 84 million registered Nigerian voters, of which 42 million are between the ages of 18-35 years of age, the biggest block of the current voting electorate.**

Equally important, Nigerian citizens are demanding and expecting their leaders to respect transparency and hold free, fair and peaceful elections because they know it can be done in their nation, and they expect even more so for the 2019 elections. A peace accord was signed February 13, 2019 among the presidential candidates which called for non-violent election.

Furthermore, civil society, as a stakeholder, is more active in its election watchdog role, adding its voice to ensure transparency in every step of the process (for example, registration, holding Election Day parallel vote tabulation, and calling for a peaceful election and post-election period).

Then there is the press. Nigeria's media have always been dynamic. But what one sees over two decades is a sophistication in established media outlets. They too contribute to the calls for improved democratic processes. This doesn't mean there isn't sensationalism in the press (as
there is elsewhere), but the well-respected, established media outlets (inclusive of respected television, print, radio, online outlets) have played a positive Fourth Estate role in the last decade and will do so this election.

What are Nigeria's biggest challenges or opportunities this year? The next decade?

Nigeria is reportedly a country of more than 190 million people and growing, with most of its population younger than age 35. That being said, I see Nigeria's large, young population as an opportunity for the nation's future, but that opportunity must be taken advantage of and harnessed. Meaning, that job creation -- note I am not saying the word "employment," but job creation -- is going to be key.

What is the difference you might ask between the two -- job creation and employment? Well, think of one as digital (job creation) and one as analog (traditional 9-to-5 employment). Job creation includes traditional formal jobs, but more so developing entrepreneurs and small business, referred to in the region as small and medium-size enterprises or SMEs, with a specific focus on women, young girls and skills training.

I spent the last two years researching the impact and potential of SMEs on the region's growth and development in my book, The Rise of Africa's Small and Medium Size Enterprises. The data there, including some from Gallup on how people feel about starting a business in their country, show that with job creation through SMEs/entrepreneurs comes an emphasis on training, technology and the use of new educational platforms (e.g. online courses).

The Africa region will have the largest working age population in the world around the year 2035, according to the IMF.*** A large part of that population certainly will be in Nigeria. But the region has hard development issues, as does Nigeria. It will be important for the region to see certain elements as part of the same four-legged stool for growth, stability, democracy and development to thrive, and to provide opportunities for its young people.

For Nigeria, these elements include improving health, education and infrastructure; addressing poverty and food insecurity; further combating corruption; and improving and managing security. The latter point includes Boko Haram as well as Sahel climate change issues, which exacerbate historical and traditional pastoral and herder tensions in the central regions, producing more conflict, which can and has devolved into further political/ethnic tensions.

These are challenges for Nigeria to resolve to have a sustainable, enabling environment for development and to provide opportunities for its young people. Some security progress has been made in the Northeast over the past two years, but there are a series of pockets of instability which remain, young girls are still missing, and many internally displaced persons (IDPs), remain displaced, or are food insecure -- although some IDP-focused projects exist, and INEC has done a lot to register and establish IDP polling sites, and these efforts for IDP's are good things.

On corruption, Nigeria has made important inroads in addressing illicit enrichment, demanding more transparency in government accounts, reporting of personal assets and money transfers, and working with foreign governments to return stolen monies to Nigeria's treasury -- with some success.
Clearly more can be done to reduce corruption. But I like to remind people that this is not the whole story of Nigeria, and I get dismayed when the country's story gets reduced to this single (albeit important) issue, or just to the challenges.

This is a vibrant nation, with a vibrant, growing, creative, business and entrepreneurial population. These are the good news stories. Furthermore, its democracy and election processes have improved, and all of us who are friends of Nigeria want to see continued progress in these areas, especially during the upcoming 2019 elections, which we hope are peaceful, and beyond.

**Voice of  America, Africa News Tonight, stream broadcast, Tune-In, February 11-12, 2019; INEC
*** International Monetary Fund. (2015, April). Sub-Saharan Africa - Navigating headwinds. Retrieved July 24, 2016 from

Article updated February for TAP Blog

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Dr. Sanders Helps Two African American Students Participate in Johannesburg's African Leadership Academy Programs

Dr. Sanders under an endowment in her late mother's name supports a RMU student to intern at South Africa's famed African Leadership Academy (ALA) to learn about Africa, enabling her to meet other young leaders from the region, and also be able to share more of what Africa is really about dispelling many stereotypes and lack of knowledge about the region in her various communities and elsewhere. Sanders will be supporting a member of her FEEEDS staff to participate in ALA's Model African Union Conference March 2019. See testimonial: .

A FEEEDS Series BlogSpot

Tuesday, December 11, 2018 2018 Event:African Education Leaders Stress "Entrepreneurial Thinking" as New Approach to Africa's NextGen Education

l-r GALLUP's  Jon Clifton, FEEEDS' Sanders,
Ambassador Newman of Botswana &
Ambassador Nimaga of Mail

Originally published in 

As Africa searches for alternative paths to educating its NextGen youth for the 21st Century, Jon Clifton, Managing Partner GALLUP World Poll, opened the 2018 Annual  annual Africa Forum highlighting education. The half day event November 29, entitled “New Approaches to Africa’s Education," is the fifth in a series of programs focused solely on key Africa themes hosted by FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative CEO Ambassador Robin Sanders, Clifton of the prestigious GALLUP World Poll, and the well-respected online media platform This year's forum, attended by African ambassadors, education leaders, advocates and institutions, highlighted the “best practices,” of key secondary and tertiary Africa-created education institutions; featured a leading Africa incubation and technology hub, using these tools to educate, support STEM, small business, women and girls; and provided the audience with the range of U.S. Government programs under the State Department Africa Bureau and other U.S. agencies, which synergistically support efforts to address the skills gap in the region. 

l-r FEEEDS-GALLUP 2018 African
Education Advocates & Focal Speakers
l-r Rheault, Mahdi, Sanders, Genton, Yembra,
Mali Ambassador Nimaga & Abiodun

Five focal experts—Magali Rheault, regional research director, Africa GALLUP; Faith Abiodun, director of program recruitment, and partnership, African Leadership Academy, South Africa (ALA); Dr. Abdul Mahdi, dean of students and community affairs, Ashesi University, Ghana; Nichole Yembra, CFO of Lagos-based Venture Garden Group (VGG); and, Thomas Genton, director of public affairs, Bureau of African Affairs, State Department underscored key progress areas in the sector, shared results of the new approaches supported by data and student success stories, and framed what they viewed as the next phase needed for Africa education to permanently change direction. Mostly notably the experts said that providing “safe spaces “for growth and talent to thrive (especially for young women), along with “entrepreneurial thinking,” “problem-solving,” and “creativity” were the primary things needed to help African communities and African nations -- each focal speaker using their institutions' data or case studies as examples. 

GALLUP Africa Research & data expert
Rheault & Ashesi's Mahdi
respond to questions

In her presentation, Magali Rheault said 2017-2018 GALLUP polling showed that Africa nations were not allocating sufficient budget funding to their respective education sectors to make a significant dent in changing the education systems. Her comments supported the event’s theme and desire to highlight why and what African institutions are being created and privately funded to step into this void. Thus, African government funding and the progress being made on education in Africa were mutually exclusive. Rheault went on to share with the esteemed audience three-related themes polled over 29 African countries regarding what people felt was more important to advancement or success in their country; the GALLUP research data showed they overwhelmingly believed that education was the most important thing, followed then by family or personal connections.

ALA's Abiodun impassioned
opening on the success of school's
approach on entrepreneurial thinking

 Faith Abiodun, the director of program recruitment and partnerships for ALA said during his impassioned opening remarks that student successes to date of ALA’s graduates, demonstrates that their new approach is on the right track. He noted that nearly all of ALA graduates go on to US Ivy Leagues universities or comparable schools elsewhere in the UK or other parts of Europe. In addition, many have taken their entrepreneurial mindset and responded to development, refugee, or food security issues in their home countries. Furthermore, “I saw the need to add on to what we do as ALA, by creating a Model African Union (AU) Conference,” Abiodun noted. “ This conference allows for our students to problem-solve real-world issues facing the African Continent today as if they were AU member states.”  Dr. Abdul Mahdi of Ashesi, emphasizing his institution’s experiential and practitioner approach to learning, touched on whether it was important to have Africa education associations like those that exist in the West. Mahdi explained that there are some nascent efforts in this area, but nothing that has caught on Continent-wide. He expected, however that in a decades’ time the region would see more viable education associations development as the current NextGen graduates move on 
into leadership positions with the desire to ensure Africa too
Yembra receives her 2018 FEEEDS-GALLUP
African Education Advocate Award.
 Below she meets with

Genton and Yembra during Q&A. Below
Genton discusses education with DRC activist

builds strong education associations.  

 The role of the private sector was not left out in the quest for a new approach to Africa's education.  Nichole Yembra VGG’s Chief Financial Officer provided a different vision on what education needs to include – technology training, more specifically-designed creative facilities for learning, programs for both women in STEM and those in small business, but also even more importantly a safe space in order to be able to collaborated, and teach. She highlighted the success of VGG’s "Vibranium Valley," and its recent event for solely for women in tech, by tech women called “Demo-Chella,” as name-take on the famous annual California music festival called “Coachchella.”  Yembra said that tech-focus women turned out in record numbers at the event because they felt both safe and encouraged. State Department’s Public Diplomacy and Affairs Director, Thomas Genton shared the role that it and other U.S. agencies, such as USAID, has played in both developing new Africa Education programs. He said that the “Young Africa Leaders Initiative,” better known as YALI,  truly meets the definition of a “new approach,” having a network of over 3,700 members, who share their learning experiences, and are a community of future leaders. Denton added that YALI is only a part of the story as the U.S. also provides teacher training and cultural exchanges. He stressed, however, that there is a need to ensure that African youths are listened to, invested in, and are encouraged to be more confident about their future. 

Jena Roscoe, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs Operation Hope, which for more than 25 years has assisted at-risk communities around the world with financial literacy and financial inclusion programs, hailed the Forum as one of a kind in its effort to tell the good news story about what is happening in the Africa education arena. Roscoe especially noted the enlightening remarks by VGG’s Yembra of on how important it was to have “safe spaces,” for young women and girls to thrive intellectually, creatively, especially in the tech and business sectors.
l-r Africa scholar Elmira Woods,
 Jena Roscoe of Operation Hope, &
Forum Invitee

Her sentiments were echoed by Eurika Huggins of the Institute for International Education, who noted that the event raised the awareness of what great schools like ALA and Ashesi were doing on NextGen education issues. Global Peace Services, VP Dr. Mindy Reiser, said the new research data from GALLUP, and the opportunities that Ashesi and ALA offer, should be of great interest to not only African countries but to policy makers in the U.S. "It would have been great if this conference could have been stretched into three days to allow agencies, higher institutions, and more companies in Africa and in the U.S. to hear the these new approaches to Africa's education," Jones said.

The focal experts were given a FEEEDS-GALLUP 2018 Africa Education Advocate award at the end of the event.The Africa Forum is a partnership pioneered by former senior U.S. government diplomat and ambassador to Nigeria, Congo, and ECOWAS, Dr. Robin Renee Sanders, GALLUP Managing Partner Jon Clifton, and Founder and CEO Reed Kramer.

VOA's Esther Githui-Ewart interviews former U.S. Ambassador Robin R. Sanders on 2018 program

A FEEEDS Blogspot Series