INEC Results expected from Monday in Nigeria election

A man reads a newspaper in front of electoral campaign posters in Lagos

First results of Nigeria’s presidential election could be given from Monday, the head of the country’s electoral commission said on Sunday, as voting went into a second day after technical glitches.

“Our hope is to be able to declare within 48 hours (of polls closing on Saturday) and hopefully within less time,” said Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC later said that collation of results from states across the country would begin in Abuja from 12:00 pm (1100 GMT).

Technical problems with new devices to “read” biometric voter identity cards plus the delayed arrival of election material and officials forced INEC to extend voting into a second day on Sunday.

Jega said that 348 polling stations across the country were affected, including 90 in the financial hub of Lagos in the southwest, and two in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

President Goodluck Jonathan is hoping for a second term of office but is facing a strong challenge from the main opposition candidate, former military general Mohammadu Buhari.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) have traded accusations since Saturday evening about irregularities in voting.

Jega said that INEC had received reports of alleged rigging in some places, including the use of under-age voters, and also a request from the APC to re-run the vote in the southern state of Rivers.

He told a news conference that the reports would be investigated but said that INEC was confident that its objectives of holding a “free, fair, credible and peaceful” election were “on course”.

“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain peaceful as they await the return of these results,” he added, with fears of a repeat of post-poll violence that in 2011 left some 1,000 people dead.

On the handheld voter identity card readers that left voters, including Jonathan, unable to accredit, Jega played down the scale of the problem.

“We received reports that some card readers were not reading. 0.25 percent of the total card readers were reported to have failed,” he said.

“We have deployed 150,000 card readers and 0.25 percent statistically is insignificant.

“If out of 150,000 card readers that we have deployed and 374 did not work, obviously you should commend this achievement.”

Jonathan’s next four years: My vision for a Nigeria that works for all (1)

Introduction and My Vision for Nigeria

President Goodluck

Introduction

WHEN I was growing up in Otuoke, a small town in Bayelsa, as the son of a boat builder, life was hard. Of nine children to my parents, only two of us survived. But I had the chance to go to school. Many did not. I worked at my studies. God smiled on me. I am here today as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I tell you now: there is not a moment that I forget where I come from, or how tough life can be for so many of us.

I have no sense of entitlement. I am not from a big family. I do not come from a profession or background that believes it has some God-given right to rule. I am here because of the will of the people and I will remain here because of the will of the people. I am willing and able to serve, but I am not desperate to serve. I am a living proof that Nigeria is a country that rewards hardwork, integrity and ambition. At its best, Nigeria is a country where, no matter where you come from, through honesty, hard work and by the grace of God, everything is possible.

I shall win this election because Nigerians know exactly who I am, and what I stand for. I fight for what I believe in. I don’t walk out of the door when the going gets tough. Nigerians know what I have delivered and I want Nigerians to know what I will deliver in the next four years. Our plan will build on the platform we have laid in the last four years, to deliver growth, prosperity, peace and justice to all. We are ready to take Nigeria to the next level.

The future I see and work for is for a Nigeria that works for all. I see a Nigeria where mothers and children do not die due to lack of medical attention. A Nigeria where no child goes to bed hungry or is out of school because of family circumstances. In the future of Nigeria that I see, the young and the youths will receive quality and sound education that provides them access to job opportunities and a higher standard of living. A Nigeria where the elderly have access to the medical care they require and life expectancy is significantly higher than it is today.

A country where the old people realize the benefit of their work and the disabled are not left behind. Nigeria will be a country of equal opportunities where every child is able to attain his or her full God given potential. Indeed, my dream is that someday, a product of the Almajiri Schools becomes the President of this great country. It will be a Nigeria where justice is not measured in any currency but available even to the most vulnerable in our society. My vision is that of a Nigeria that works for all, and not just a few.

This has been a long campaign. I welcome the challenge of a vigorous campaign. Democracy needs competition, but it should be the right type of constructive competition. It is a sign of strength that Nigerians finally have a choice. In this document, I present to you a very clear choice and path to Nigeria’s progress. It is a choice and path based on the foundation that we laid during my first administration. You will find our plan for security, education, health. Also, our plans for the economy, jobs and the different forms of infrastructure to support our growth. We have not left out the environment and how we will leverage international economic cooperation for our growth and development. Most of our plans have been costed and some are obviously a continuation and completion of what we began. This is my promise to Nigeria, a vision for the next four years.

Jojona Copy

Section 2

Security, Education and Health

Nigeria’s Security and Territorial Integrity

Let me turn first to security. The definition of a modern state is the rule of law and the security of its citizens. My administration has faced unprecedented challenges. As a nation we have all felt the trauma and pain of international terrorism and extremist violence. The changing fortune on the battlefield that we have seen in recent weeks is a result of the sacrifices of our security agencies. I salute their courage and the determination of our military, they have done Nigeria proud.

Book Haram is part of an international phenomenon. It is a terror that does not know borders or boundaries. We understood this from the beginning. Nigeria was on the right side of the argument in Mali against the extremists; and in support of democracy in Ivory Coast, Guinea, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau. What we support abroad, we champion at home: democracy, freedom and the rule of law. It is a proud record and a reflection of Nigeria’s role and responsibilities in Africa and the broader community that we have upheld and deepened.

We have formed a formidable team with Cameroon, Chad and Niger to effectively dismantle Boko Haram. Infact, everywhere that terror has been successfully tackled, it is through partnership. And that is what this government has championed. In the past four years we have worked hard to improve the capacity of security agencies. We have provided specialized training to our armed forces, established police academy in Kano to beef up policing capabilities. In addition, we have now provided better and improved equipment to our security agencies. This process is ongoing. We have made these investments in order to improve the capacity of security agencies to protect all Nigerians.

There is still a real risk of further terror attacks, against the kind of soft, innocent target of which there are so many across the country. And there will be further battles ahead. But Boko Haram’s claims of a Caliphate have been shown to be as empty and bankrupt as the rest of their hateful philosophy. Nigeria remains one, and undivided. We shall root out Boko Haram.

We salute the extraordinary courage of the families of the Chibok girls, and we shall never give up on these girls. We also salute the families of the Buni Yadi boys, and indeed all the victims of terror. We cannot undo their suffering. We can only use it as an inspiration to overcome this evil in our midst, and to rebuild a better world for those who have seen their lives turned upside down.

In the next four years, we will build on the progress we have made so far. Our military efforts, both domestic and through international cooperation have enabled us make progress in our fight against Boko Haram. We will expand and intensify our military presence in the affected region and communities to ensure that we leave no gaps for Boko Haram to take advantage in the future. We will continue to equip the military and other security agencies to meet the security challenges of modern Nigeria.

In order to cement our progress, we are implementing three strategic security initiatives that will be the focus of our administration in the next four years. These initiatives are the Safe School Initiative (SSI), the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), and Nigeria’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme.

Under the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI), our administration will:

Accelerate the enrolment of displaced children in schools in their host communities and secure places in schools for children in IDP camps. This a temporary arrangement that will be replaced as displaced persons move back to their communities. Our goal is to secure communities as soon as they are rid of the terrorists so that citizens can return safely and children go back to school in their community.

If and when necessary, transfer children living in LGEAs at high risk of insurgent activities to secondary schools in safer locations.

Under the Expand Safe School Initiative (SSI), which is a national initiative across the country, we shall introduce guidelines for all schools on what constitutes a safe school. This will be piloted in selected schools in the North East, and across the country. Over the next four years, we will build safe schools that take into consideration all forms of security vulnerabilities.

Under the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), we will achieve the following:

Address immediate human suffering by empowering response agencies to better deliver much needed humanitarian relief – food, non-food items, medicines etc. as a foundation for other interventions. This is ongoing.

We will embark on reconstruction and rehabilitation of the North East. Infact, the North East will be rebuilt and experience economic renaissance.

Leverage the region’s strategic agricultural and solid mineral assets to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for the youths, and ensure long-term peace and prosperity.

We will exploit long-term opportunities that are unique to the North East where national progress is contingent on the region’s progress (Sahelian trade, strategic power projects, national food security etc).

Under the Nigeria’s CVE programme, we will focus on the following:

De-radicalisation and reintegration of suspected and convicted extremist offenders back into the society.

Development and implementation of an after care programme for the deradicalised involving community reintegration and rehabilitation. This will give rehabilitated prisoners opportunity to make a living after they have been released.

Quality Education, Skills and Training for All

During my visit to one of the Almajiri schools that have been established under our policy, I met excited young children. These are bright, lively children, now receiving the best Nigeria can offer. With public funds, the next generation now has the tools it needs to make for themselves better lives and to make this a better country. I know very well what education means. Education is the key to transformation. My dream is that one day, a product of Almajiri schools will become President of this great nation.

This is not a slogan. It is the story of my life.

In the next four years, no child will be out of school in Nigeria. Our schools will not only be safe, but will also be centres of excellence that mould national character. We will reverse the brain drain in our universities and tackle the most critical important challenge to university education in Nigeria – access and quality. We will devise a sustainable and effective system for our University education to bring it up to global standards.

When I first assumed office, providing quality education was a challenge for government. There had been decades of decay. Consequently, many of the graduates our system was producing were not fit to meet the needs of our industries. Many lacked the skills of the new, technological era. We have refocused the educational system in the area of access, quality, infrastructure, teacher quality and development, curriculum relevance, funding, planning and targeting out-of-school children. Our renewed focus is based on some of our initiatives, including the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the revision to the National Policy on Education, the support provided to states to conduct the annual school census, and the Almajiri Education programme. We have established 12 new universities so that every state in Nigeria now has a federal university. Nine of the new universities are in Northern states.

In the next four years, my government shall:

Work with states and local governments to ensure that none of our children of primary school age is out of school.

Continue our reforms in the education sector, to improve access and quality at all levels, and ensure sustainability and adequacy of education funding. We will continue to work with state governments to improve access and quality at all levels.

Provide technical educational institutions with additional well-equipped workshop and adequate and well-trained-teachers. There will be a renewed focus on vocational training that effectively links the needs of our industries with skills acquired.

Will forge a closer partnership between employers and the educational system, especially at the tertiary level, and encourage greater, properly regulated involvement of private individuals and agencies in the delivery of education services.

Establish new adult and continuing education centres, strengthen the old ones in order to promote mass literacy among Nigerians.
High Quality Healthcare for all Nigerians

Nigeria produces some of the finest health care professionals but has not had the health care system the general public deserves. In the next four years, we will lay the foundation for Nigeria to become a centre of medical excellence in Africa, and begin to reverse the embarrassing trend of medical tourism. All Nigerians will have access to high quality healthcare and National Health Insurance (NHIS) coverage will be expanded, and we will accelerate the implementation of private sector health initiatives.

Let us for a moment remember the eight victims we lost last year to Ebola. Let us also praise the bravery of Dr. Stella Ameyo Adedavoh and other heroes who identified the virus and cared for the sick, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us also remember the efforts of all the agencies of government, both at the national and sub-national levels, which helped to prevent this tragedy from becoming a catastrophe.

That same commitment and energy has also helped us eradicate Guinea worm. In the next four years, with that same determination, we shall also rid Nigeria of polio.

At the start of this administration, access to healthcare was a challenge, particularly for women and children. We established the ‘‘saving one million lives” initiative to reduce birth related deaths to mothers and children. I know the pain of loss that a properly resourced and managed health service will help to eliminate.

We have put in place measures to eliminate counterfeit drugs and equipment. I signed the National Health Bill into law to enable quicker improvements in both quality and access to primary and tertiary healthcare. We have refurbished and upgraded our hospitals including the Enugu Teaching Hospital (ETH), Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital, Zaria, the National Trauma Centre at the National Hospital, Abuja, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), and the Federal Medical Centre in Umuahia.
In the next four years, my government shall:

Facilitate the expansion of the NHIS to cover previously excluded illnesses. This will enhance the medical insurance system and improve access to healthcare. We will also modify existing arrangements to provide free healthcare to children and the elderly.

Work with the private sector to reverse the trend in medical tourism. We will enhance and speed up the private health care initiative for the establishment of world-class specialist hospitals across the country.

This will complement our plan of one general hospital per local government and one specialist hospital per state. It will require the intensification of the current training and incentivisation of paramedical personnel to expand healthcare in rural areas.

Stimulate the local production of medicines and other supplies, while enforcing stringent laws against the manufacturing and sale of fake and adulterated drugs.

Section II

The Economy

Let me share with you the progress we have made to diversify our economy, create jobs and our plans for the next four years.

As I look forward to your support for the next coming four years, I can report some distinct forms of progress that demonstrate not only our commitment to increasing the standard of living of Nigerians, but show that our efforts are already yielding good results. First, following the rebasing of our country’s Gross Domestic Product last April, we now know that our economy, estimated at US $510 billion for 2013, is the largest in Africa. This was more than just a statistical exercise: it gives us the data to show how much more diversified and broad-based the economy has become since 1990 and where targeted government intervention can be most effective.

Our economy has been growing at an average of seven per cent per annum in the past decade. That growth is a necessary but not a sufficient factor for judging our economic wellbeing. What we need is more inclusive growth that translates into dividends for all strata of our growing population.

Second, since I assumed office as President of our great country, we have established a reliable mechanism for tracking employment trends. We now know that between 2012 and 2014, we created 2,826,552 total number of jobs. We know where the jobs were created and in what sectors. These are powerful tools in helping to understand what is happening and where we can make best use of public funds. In addition, poverty in Nigeria today is much lower than in 2010. The World Bank recently released its 2014 Nigerian Economic Report (NER), providing the most up to date analysis of the poverty and living standards in the country. It provides evidence that Nigeria’s poverty rate is significantly lower than had been previously reported. From the survey, it is estimated that 33.1 per cent of the population lived below the poverty threshold in 2013.

On three critical economic fronts therefore, we have made progress in the last four years. The foundations for future economic progress have been laid. In the coming four years, I will build on past successes to advance our collective efforts towards creating a new Nigeria. The plans we have are detailed, comprehensive and the product of a wide-ranging consultation exercise that has tapped into the best talent we have at home and abroad.

Before I discuss the plans we have for growth in each sector of the economy, let me first discuss our plans to ensure that we sustain our macroeconomic stability.

Macroeconomic Stability and Nigeria’s Future Economic Growth

I have my share, my goals and aspirations in critical areas of our lives, including security, education and health care. However, progress on all of these will not be possible without a stable macroeconomic environment. The foundation of the future economic progress we seek to make depends on macroeconomic stability. The realization drives our commitment to prudent economic management, fiscal discipline and economic reforms.

During my first administration, to ensure macroeconomic stability, we promoted policies that guaranteed non-inflationary growth as well as protected against the negative impacts from the rest of the world. Such policies, which include proactive fiscal consolidation, flexible monetary policy, effective management of foreign exchange reserves, prudent budgets and price stability in the financial services sector. Recent falls in oil prices have significantly impacted our revenues and the value of our currency. We shall remedy this in the coming years.

In the next four years, we shall rebuild our resources, shore up the value of the naira, grow our economy, and create wealth. Specifically, we will accomplish the following:

We will diversify our sources of revenue and make Nigeria less dependent on oil. We will build on the progress we have made on non-oil revenue sources and move from the current 70:30 ratio to 60:40 for oil and non oil government revenues, respectively.

While respecting the autonomy of CBN, I have directed the monetary and fiscal authorities to work together to enhance our macroeconomic stability, especially price stability.

We will work with the states to strengthen savings in the Excess Crude Account (ECA), increase investments in the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and continue to maintain healthy foreign exchange reserves.

We will continue to increase the short and long term access to finance to critical sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, housing and construction etc and address the long term finance challenges in the economy through deepening our financial system.

Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) will continue to receive special attention as they account for over 45 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP and employ over 60 per cent of the workforce.

We shall revitalize the insurance sector to ensure it fulfils its huge potential, expand the level of risk businesses undertaken and expand insurance sector jobs from the current 30,000 to 300,000.

All Eyes On Enyeama Ahead 100th Cap For Nigeria

Vincent Enyeama

Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama will be making history on many fronts tonight when Nigeria confront Uganda in an international friendly at the world class Akwa Ibom International Stadium in Uyo.

Apart from swelling an exclusive group of African footballers to 24 by making his 100th international appearance,Enyeama will also be playing against Uganda for the very first time.

His previous 99 matches for Nigeria at senior level include a number of clashes with East African countries, including Ethiopia and Kenya, but none against Uganda.

When Nigeria faced Uganda in the qualifying rounds for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Austin Ejide was in goal.

Recently retired Egypt midfielder Ahmed Hassan is the most capped African with a world-record 184 appearances and 22 other footballers from the continent have at least 100 caps.

The Super Eagles are at home to Uganda tonight and away to South Africa Sunday as part of rebuilding the team after the fiasco that trailed their non-qualification for the AFCON in Equatorial Guinea in January.

While preparing for the June kick-off of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers will be uppermost in the minds of the Nigeria Football Federation and the technical crew of the team, personal glory beckons for Enyeama.

The 32-year-old, who plays for French Ligue 1 outfit Lille, has represented Nigeria 99 times since a 2002 debut against Kenya.

And there is no venue where the best current African shot-stopper would prefer to reach 100 caps than the Akwa Ibom Stadium in his southern home city of Uyo.

“I am excited by the fact that reaching 100 caps will happen in my home town,” said Enyeama. “What a great honour.

“Nothing matches being recognised by your country. I am very excited at the prospect of reaching 100 caps.”

Enyeama was part of the 2013 Cup of Nations-winning team and has also collected three bronze medals in the biennial African showpiece.

Meanwhile the Super Eagles will hope to improve their head-to-head record against the Cranes of Uganda tonight.

The Eagles have won two and lost three of the previous six meetings.

The first and last clashes between Nigeria and Uganda at senior level ended in 2-1 wins for the Cranes.

On March 14, 1978, Nigeria lost an Africa Cup of Nations semi final to Uganda 1-2 in Ghana, with both goals scored by Phillip Omondi. The last time both teams squared off was on June 2, 2007, the Cranes coming from behind to win 2-1 after John Utaka had put Nigeria ahead in a 2008 Nations Cup qualifier in Kampala.

In-between, Uganda won a friendly match 1-0 in Kampala on September 26, 1981; the Eagles won a Cup of Nations qualifier 2-0 in Lagos on August 28, 1992 and both teams drew 0-0 in Kampala on July 17, 1993.

The two teams’ clash in Abeokuta on March 24, 2007 sticks in the memory: it took a last-gasp Nwankwo Kanu header for Nigeria to earn a 1-0 win.

6 facts about public opinion in Nigeria before election day

A long-delayed election will be taking place in Nigeria this weekend, as the original date was put off due to security concerns relating to the continued fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress opposition party, who briefly ruled the country in the 1980s after a military coup, will attempt to defeat incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, of the People’s Democratic Party.

In recent months, Boko Haram has stepped up its campaign in Nigeria’s northeast, and violence has spread to neighboring countries. Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and is a major oil producer, so in its most important election since democratic rule was restored in 1999, the world will anxiously await the results.

With so much on the line, here’s what Nigerians had to say about the state of their country when we surveyed them in spring 2014:

1Nigerians detest Boko Haram. Overall, 82% of Nigerians have an unfavorable view of Boko Haram, with 79% holding a very unfavorable view. This distaste is shared by Christians and Muslims alike (Nigeria is about half Christian and half Muslim, according to the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project).

2Public Opinion in NigeriaAbout seven-in-ten Nigerians (72%) are worried about Islamic extremism in their country. And when asked to name the world’s greatest danger, a 38% plurality say that religious and ethnic hatred is the top threat.

3In terms of everyday worries, more than eight-in-ten Nigerians say crime (88%) and corruption (86%) are very big problems in their country. Nigerians are also worried about electricity shortages.

4Nigerians have less regard for their national government compared with other institutions tested. No wonder an Afrobarometer survey from December 2014 found that 74% of Nigerians say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

5A majority of Nigerians (66%) say most government officials do not care about what ordinary people think, and Afrobarometer found that 50% are very or somewhat concerned about political intimidation or violence at the polls, up from 34% in 2012.

6Despite concerns about their government and institutions, Nigerians remain politically engaged. Seven-in-ten Nigerian adults have voted in an election, and many see voting and attending campaign events as effective ways to influence government. To that end, a recent International Foundation for Electoral Systems poll found that 79% of Nigerians were either very (61%) or somewhat (18%) likely to vote in the presidential election.

The outcome of the presidential election is considered too close to call, and the potential looms for a violent lead-up to Election Day (and the outside possibility of a runoff). Whoever triumphs, public opinion shows that Nigerians recognize the wide array of problems facing their country and the difficulty the next leader will have in addressing them all.

This is an update of a blog post originally published by Pew Research Center on Feb. 9, 2015.

Presidential Debate: Jonathan Says Nigerian Universities Will Rank Among Global Best in Next 4 Years

Presidential Debate
President Goodluck Jonathan (m) with presidential candidates of other Political Parties During The 2015 Presidential Election Debate in Abuja on Sunday

President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed optimism that Nigerian universities will rank among the best in the world in the next four years, as a result of the ongoing  transformation of  the education system.

Jonathan, who featured in the Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) on Sunday in Abuja, said that Nigerian universities had been equipped to compete with their foreign counterparts.

Jonathan said that education was a responsibility of both states and the federal governments, adding that the present administration gives support to the  states through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

“We all feel bad that no Nigerian university was ranked but we are working seriously to change the trend. We have equipped most of our universities through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). We are talking about infrastructure that has failed over the years but with the way we are going, in the next four years our universities will compete with other universities across the world,” he said.

Also speaking, Godson Okoye, the presidential candidate of United Democratic Party, decried the situation where people who had benefited from free education turned education to business.

“We must re-engineer education right from nursery schools; teachers training colleges must be revisited,’’ he said.

Oluremi Sonaiya, the presidential candidate of KOWA Party, said the whole focus should not be on formal education but a broad-based education.

“Ignorance is one of the ills; KOWA will address formal and informal education; curriculum should be reviewed,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that five political parties- PDP, NCP, UPP, KOWA and UDP participated in the second session of the debate.

Photo Credit: NAN-PHOTO

More Nigerian-Americans are reaching highest levels of sports

Amukamara1
Promise Amukamara (left) and her sister, Peace, warming up with the Arizona State basketball team before a game against Colorado this month. They are members of a large Nigerian-American family with several athletes among their siblings.

At Arizona State’s recent Senior Day celebration, guard Promise Amukamara was escorted onto the basketball court by her four sisters, whose mellifluous names spoke of royalty and hope — Peace, a teammate, along with Princess, Precious and Passionate. Their brother, Prince, a cornerback for the Giants, sent his well wishes in a text message.

“All of them got scholarships to university,” said Christy Amukamara, the family matriarch. She smiled. “That was a great relief for us.”

Technically, Passionate, a high school senior, had yet to sign a scholarship offer as her team played for an Arizona prep basketball championship. Still, the Amukamaras are at the forefront of a growing number of Nigerian-American athletes, born in the United States, who are excelling at the top levels of high school, college and professional sports.

Andre Iguodala and Victor Oladipo play in the N.B.A., and Ime Udoka is an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. The brothers Samuel and Emmanuel Acho are in the N.F.L. The sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike of the W.N.B.A. were the only siblings both drafted No. 1 over all in a professional sport besides Peyton and Eli Manning. Jahlil Okafor of Duke is predicted by many to be the first pick in the coming N.B.A. draft. And the sprinter Courtney Okolo of the University of Texas set a women’s N.C.A.A. record of 50.03 seconds at 400 meters last spring.

Typically, these athletes have parents or grandparents who came to the United States to study or to escape the 1980s-era military regime in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, with about 175 million people living in an area twice the size of California. About 380,000 Nigerian immigrants and their children live in the United States, up from 25,000 in 1980.

They have settled in metropolitan areas like New York, Houston and Washington, and as a group, they are far more likely than the overall American population to receive undergraduate and advanced degrees, according to a 2014 analysis done for the Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute. Many in the Nigerian diaspora view sports as a kind of student-athlete ideal with its discipline, work ethic and opportunities to gain access to higher education and professional careers, the athletes, their parents and sports officials said.

“The educational piece is the cross-nexus; they’re not just doing this for sport,” said Chris Plonsky, the athletic director for women’s sports at Texas, where a number of Nigerian-American and Nigerian immigrant athletes have played. While at Nebraska, Prince Amukamara said, he planned to attend law school until he heard the ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. project him as a first-round pick in the 2011 N.F.L. draft. “My Dad said, ‘O.K., you can pursue sports,’ ” Amukamara, 25, said, adding, “Sports has always been secondary.”

Aiyeotan
Neumann-Goretti High School’s Felicia Aiyeotan during a game last month.

Athletes born in Nigeria have also continued to rise to prominence in North America in the decades after Christian Okoye’s grinding success as a running back with the Kansas City Chiefs and Hakeem Olajuwon’s Hall of Fame basketball career with the University of Houston and the Houston Rockets.

Masai Ujiri is the general manager of the Toronto Raptors. Obafemi Martins, a forward for the Seattle Sounders, finished second last season in the voting for most valuable player in M.L.S. The country’s top-ranked girls high school basketball team, SS. John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School, in Philadelphia, has two players from Nigeria: Christina Aborowa, a 6-foot-4 senior forward headed to Texas, and Felicia Aiyeotan, a 6-9 junior center. Ujiri estimates that his foundation, Giants of Africa, has brought 75 to 100 male athletes to the United States from Nigeria over the past dozen years to play college basketball.

Carl LeVan, an Africa scholar at American University, said that sports in Nigeria had historically provided a unifying force in a culturally diverse country and, along with literature, had helped instill a sense of exceptionalism. “This is another area where Nigerians hear that calling to greatness,” LeVan said. On occasion, athletic migration has gone in the other direction. At the 2012 London Olympics, nine players on the Nigerian men’s basketball team were born in the United States. And Nigeria’s reigning 100-meter sprint champion, Mark Jelks, is from Gary, Ind. Sometimes, achievement has brought controversy.

Jelks was called a mercenary last summer by some reporters and former athletes in Nigeria after he switched his track allegiance from the United States. He had only a casual relationship with Nigeria and had previously been suspended for two years by American antidoping officials after missing an out-of-competition drug test. He could not be reached for comment. While Neumann-Goretti, the Philadelphia high school, has lost only one girls’ basketball game in two seasons, the team has been engulfed in turmoil.

John Gallagher, the coach at a rival Catholic school, resigned in February after being linked to emails, sent under a pseudonym to the University of Texas, that questioned the eligibility of Aborowa and Aiyeotan. Gallagher’s lawyer told The Philadelphia Inquirer that his client had broken no laws.

The emails emerged in a slander and libel lawsuit filed by Neumann-Goretti’s former coach, Letty Santarelli, who resigned in November amid an investigation of the team. She declined to comment. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association have said they found no wrongdoing. Neumann-Goretti is heavily favored to win the state’s Class AA girls title. Plonsky, the women’s athletic director at Texas, where Aborowa is scheduled to play next season, said, “We have every confidence that she’ll be fine.”

A predominantly black team like Neumann-Goretti’s might have rankled the largely white powers that have dominated Philadelphia’s Catholic League in girls’ basketball, leading to unfounded rumors, said Mike Flynn, who assisted the Nigerian players in coming to the United States and operates the Amateur Athletic Union team on which they have played.

About 380,000 Nigerian immigrants and their children live in the United States, up from 25,000 in 1980. They have settled in metropolitan areas like New York, Houston and Washington, and as a group, they are far more likely than the overall American population to receive undergraduate and advanced degrees, according to a 2014 analysis done for the Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute.

Still, Flynn acknowledged, there can be risks for players coming from Nigeria and other African countries. “There are so many people looking to make a dollar off them in their own country and so many people not looking out for their welfare once they get here,” Flynn said. While those who meet expectations often find their way, he said, those who do not are “sometimes chattel; they don’t have a school, a home, a support system. You disappear into the undocumented American landscape or you go home.”

At 18, Aborowa is the median age for Nigerians. And she speaks fluent English, the former colonial language of British rule, which has eased her assimilation into the American culture. Her coach said she was a straight-A student. Aborowa said that three or four years ago, however, she knew almost nothing about basketball and had little expectation beyond a life as a mother and perhaps as a trader of goods. A coach spotted her in Lagos, Nigeria, and gave her his phone number. Her guardian tore it up, Aborowa said, admonishing her not to speak to strangers. The coach persisted, and Aborowa began to learn the game, eventually traveling to Philadelphia with the help of a foundation called Hope 4 Girls Africa. Basketball, Aborowa said, now means “everything” to her. “Before, I didn’t have a life; there was no opportunity to go forward,” she said. “Now it’s my dream, my hope. My mom doesn’t have the money to send me to school. Now I’m there.” She plans to study computer science at Texas and would like to own a business. “We believe in hard work,” Aborowa said of herself and other Nigerians.

“It’s in the blood, to go hard every time, to go for what you want.” Ify Ogwumike, 47, was also born in Nigeria, the daughter of an oil company executive. She is an assistant superintendent at a school district outside Houston. Her husband, Peter, owns an information technology business. Their four daughters have become somewhat inadvertent basketball stars. “We come from highly educated families where the mind-set is to send your children to the best schools where they get the best education and the best opportunities,”

Ify Ogwumike said. “Sports was not a focus; education was the focus. We just happened to find sports and find that you can get the best of both worlds.” She insisted that her eldest daughters, Nneka, 24, and Chiney, who will be 23 this month, play the piano. Not until they were 11 and 10 did the sisters take up basketball at a Y.M.C.A., adhering to their mother’s two requirements: They had to play the same sport, and it had to be indoors in the humid Houston-area climate. The parents of her friends were skeptical at first, Chiney Ogwumike said, and advised her mother, “You need to put them in honors math.”

A coach spotted her in Lagos, Nigeria, and gave her his phone number. Her guardian tore it up, Aborowa said, admonishing her not to speak to strangers. The coach persisted, and Aborowa began to learn the game, eventually traveling to Philadelphia with the help of a foundation called Hope 4 Girls Africa. Basketball, Aborowa said, now means “everything” to her.

Aborowa
Christina Aborowa of Neumann-Goretti High School won the tip-off in a game last month.

Eventually, Nneka and Chiney both became all-Americans at Stanford, and No. 1 overall picks in the W.N.B.A. draft. Nneka plans to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree, while Chiney intends to enter law school. A younger sister, Olivia, played in the starting lineup much of this season as a freshman at Pepperdine and will be joined by the youngest Ogwumike sibling, Erica, next season. “Sports opened doors and sometimes knocked down doors for us,” Chiney Ogwumike said.

Romanus Amukamara, 56, a math teacher, traveled to the United States from Nigeria in 1980 on a student visa and was told by his parents that a “good name is better than riches.” His grandfather was a king in an autonomous village, hence the names Princess and Prince given to his eldest children. Education was paramount; his eldest three children have college degrees, and Promise is scheduled to graduate from Arizona State in May. “People can take your wealth, your property, but they cannot take away your knowledge or that diploma,” Romanus Amukamara said. Sports provided structure and recreation.

Romanus Amukamara was a soccer player, and his wife, Christy, was an elite sprinter in Nigeria. Their children became intensely competitive. Princess Amukamara, 28, played high school football before turning to softball in college. “I think she was a linebacker,” Prince said with a laugh. “She always wanted to spear people. Precious, 24, won seven Arizona State high school track and field championships. Promise, 21, and Peace, 20, received basketball scholarships and have helped make Arizona State a top-10 team this season.

“In high school, our eyes opened when our coaches told us, ‘You have the potential to get a scholarship and play the sport you love at the next level,’ ” Promise Amukamara said. Passionate Amukamara, 17, laughed and said she felt some pressure to be the best athlete in the family because she was the youngest. “Once my parents found out my brother was good in football and my sisters were good in basketball,” she said, “it became, ‘You have to excel in sports as much as you do in school.’ ” • Culled from The New York Times.

Boko Haram areas ‘retaken in a month’ – Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan

President Jonathan Declares
President Goodluck Jonathan: “I’m very hopeful that it will not take us more than a month to recover the old territories”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said he hopes that all territory seized by Islamist militant group Boko Haram will be retaken within a month.

“They are getting weaker and weaker by the day,” he told the BBC.

But the president – who faces elections in a week – admitted the response to the insurgents’ initial advance in north-east Nigeria had been too slow.

The army has claimed recent victories over Boko Haram in a conflict that has killed thousands since 2012.

Backed by neighbouring countries Chad, Niger and Cameroon, Nigeria’s army has recaptured many towns and villages from the militants.

President Jonathan’s government has been heavily criticised for its failure to end the insurgency.

The government has made similar claims in the past about defeating or driving back Boko Haram within a specific period – but these have not been borne out by events.

Nigeria’s electoral body, INEC, postponed February’s election by six weeks, saying the armed forces needed more time to secure the country.

Abducted girls ‘alive’

In an exclusive interview with the BBC’s Will Ross in the capital Abuja, President Jonathan said: “I’m very hopeful that it will not take us more than a month to recover the old territories that hitherto have been in their [Boko Haram’s] hands.”

Nigerian troops
Nigerian government troops recently recaptures several towns, the military says

Earlier this week, the Nigerian army said the militants no longer controlled any urban centres in Yobe and Adamawa – two of the three worst-affected states in the north-east.

Recently, the military also pledged that Borno state, the birthplace of Boko Haram, would soon be freed.

However, President Jonathan admitted in the interview that the authorities had “under-estimated” the militants and had initially lacked the resources to fight them.

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Analysis: Will Ross, BBC News, Abuja

President Jonathan may have faced huge criticism at home and abroad for his handling of the insecurity in the north-east but he seems unwilling to concede any mistakes have been made.

Mr Jonathan clearly inherited a military beset by corruption and one which for decades has demonstrated an extraordinary inability to build up a decent array of weaponry – hence the recent scramble for military hardware including helicopters and tanks as well as the involvement of troops from neighbouring countries.

His assessment of the Boko Haram crisis is perhaps a little closer to the mark than the euphoric PR statements that are sent out on behalf of Nigeria’s military suggesting this is a won war.

Yes, some jihadists have been killed in battle, he told me, but many have fled – either over the borders or into Sambisa Forest and the Mandara Mountains, whilst some he says have melted back into towns.

They may no longer control much territory but the Boko Haram crisis grew too deep to disappear in a hurry.

Ashes and death in recaptured towns

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Mr Jonathan said that newly acquired military equipment, as well as co-operation with neighbouring countries, had helped push the jihadists out of towns and villages.

The president also said the authorities would continue the search for the 219 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok by Boko Haram last year.

The interview comes just days before Nigerians vote in presidential elections. Despite many analysts predicting the most fiercely contested poll since the end of military rule in 1999, Mr Jonathan said: “I’ll surely win.”

Boko Haram at a glance:

Boko haram leader

  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education
  • Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria
  • Has also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Controls several north-eastern towns
  • Launched attacks on neighbouring states
  • Pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) militants in 2015

Boko haram towns

Culled from the BBC