Washington, DC – Voice of America will provide unprecedented coverage of Nigeria’s presidential election, being held Saturday. It’s an election that has already been postponed once, taking place under the shadow of terrorism. With reporters fanned out throughout Africa’s most populous country --- including the dangerous states in Nigeria’s northeast --- and in neighboring countries, VOA is well positioned to cover one of the continent’s most important events of the year on radio, television and mobile.
Leo Keyen, chief of VOA Hausa (the predominant language of northern Nigeria), says the elections “are a landmark in institutionalizing democracy” and will have “economic, security, and political consequences” for all Africa if Nigeria fails to get them right.
VOA Hausa will broadcast a one-hour special live radio show on both Saturday, election day, and on Sunday featuring reports from VOA journalists and analysis by Nigerian experts Dr. Aminu Gamawa, Legal and Conflict Resolution Consultant and Dr. Kabiru Mato, Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Abuja. VOA Hausa’s mobile platform, Dandalin, will constantly update listeners and give them a chance to interact with VOA through Twitter and Facebook.
VOA’s popular English-language TV/radio show, Straight Talk Africa, will broadcast a special Saturday Nigerian election edition at 1800 UTC (2:00 p.m. local time). Host Shaka Ssali and social media reporter Mariama Diallo will take calls from VOA’s African audience as well as comments submitted through social media. Guests will include Dr. Okenwa Nwosu, M.D., National Coordinator for Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign, and Dr. Iyabode Obasanjo-Bello, Distinguished Fellow at Boston University’s African Presidential Center and daughter of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. VOA's Nigeria correspondent Chris Stein and Peter Clottey, host of VOA’s Nightline Africa, will also appear on the show.
VOA coverage leading up to the elections included exclusive interviews with the two leading presidential candidates, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Reporter Chris Stein interviewed President Jonathan and VOA Hausa’s Aliyu Mustapha interviewed Buhari. VOA also reported on the use of mercenaries in Nigeria’s fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram.
The elections were originally scheduled for February 14, but Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC) postponed them until March 28 because of the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeastern part of the country. In the weeks since the postponement, government forces, aided by troops from neighboring countries and mercenaries from South Africa and elsewhere, have made major advances against Boko Haram. In addition to electing a president, voters will also choose representatives for Nigeria’s Senate and House of Representatives.
VOA’s “Nigeria Decides” web page contains VOA’s election-related reporting, profiles of the two main candidates and an interactive map to chart the election results.