Nigeria’s electoral commission confirms polls date despite violence
On Tuesday, the head of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mahmood Yakubu reaffirmed that the presidential election scheduled for 25th of February this year shall go ahead as planned despite a new attack on the office of the INEC in the southeastern state of Enugu on Sunday. The recent incident is one of a summative 50 attacks on its offices between 2019 and 2022 in election-related violence, that the INEC has recorded, and has attributed to persistent doubts that Nigeria’s general elections will proceed as planned next month. While there is a long-running pattern of violence around Nigeria’s usually keenly contested elections, experts say recent attacks have been more sophisticated taking insecurity in the country into uncharted territory. Nigerians go to the polls on 25th February to choose a replacement for current President Muhammadu Buhari, whose eight-year rule has been sharply criticized for failing to tackle rampant insecurity and the cost-of-living crisis. Going up against 70-year-old Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and 75-year-old former vice-president Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), 61-year-old Peter Obi of the Labour Party and a former state governor, is the first third-party candidate to present a real challenge to the dominant political parties since the end of military dictatorship in 1999. According to analysts, younger people have turned towards Obi out of desperation to change the status quo in Nigeria and due to continued anger over the brutal suppression of the #EndSars movement two years ago. Obi’s defection to the Labour Party seems to have triggered a surge of voter registrations particularly among young people. As of now, 93 million Nigerians have registered to vote, 44 million of whom are women. Also, there are 10 million first time voters of whom 84% are under the age of 34. Several online polls have placed Obi as the likely winner, but they are being treated with extreme caution by observers, who say their results have been skewed by the youthful profile of Obi’s supporters. Given the complexity of Nigerian politics, factors such as religion, region, the urban-rural divide and the usually rather low voter turnout (35% in 2019, 44% in 2015) will also play a huge role in determining the next President of the most populous country on the continent.
USD 50 million to boost vaccine capacity for Senegalese institute
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) announced on Thursday this week that it will provide 50 million USD over ten years to support Senegal’s Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) to increase Africa’s capacity to develop vaccines at large scale. The agreement will allow Senegal to develop vaccines for the Global South during upcoming disease outbreaks and assist Africa in taking control of its own health security. Therefore, the Institute Pasteur de Dakar, a non-profit foundation of public utility, dedicated to promoting public health and well-being in West Africa, plans to invest up to 15 million USD to boost the development of its production facilities for both routine and outbreak immunisations. The importance of promoting local vaccine production and decreasing dependencies on the Global North could be observed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here, African countries as well as other countries from the Global South have experienced unequal distribution of vaccines which is still reflected in the vaccination rates. Africa’s continental vaccination rate is 41.9%; 1,075.9 million vaccine doses have been distributed to Africa of which 74.5% have been administered. However, the vaccination rates significantly differ across the countries. Whilst South Africa, which led Africa’s effort to expand its own vaccine production capacity with the pharma company Aspen Pharmacare (APNJ.J) has a vaccination rate of 41,3%, its neighbour Botswana, also considered an upper-middle income country, has already reached 87.7%. Particularly surprising are the numbers of island nation comores with 80.6% as well as Liberia with 78.9% of its population being fully vaccinated – both countries considered as one of the world’s poorest countries. Meanwhile, the rate of people who receive a so-called booster is significantly low across the continent and ranges from 0.0 to 0.1%.
In other news
Since street tennis was introduced in Rwanda’s capital Kigali in November last year, the sport has gained a lot of popularity among Rwandans. The community based sport, which can be played in residential areas such as roads, community centres, etc. does not need high investments in infrastructure and hence, can be basically played everywhere by everyone as well as be used to attract tourists by holding regional tournaments at low costs. Street tennis – or road tennis, as it is called in Barbados, where the sport originates from, was introduced to Rwanda as part of the bilateral partnership between Rwanda and Barbados. Rwanda has been the first African country to adapt this sport and, according to the government, is now planning to expand it to other parts of the country.