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5 must-reads on Nigerian politics

As Nigerians roll-up their sleeves to vote in the 2019 general elections, Bookshelf offers a list of books for the season.

Nathaniel Bivan

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Ayisha Osori’s ‘Love Does Not Win Elections’

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his title is likely to captivate anyone, and you find yourself instantly asking the question, does love for the people you hope to serve ensure your win in an election? Published in 2017, Ayisha Osori’s ‘Love Does Not Win Elections’ chronicles her experience trying to clinch the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in 2014 for the Federal House of Representatives seat for the AMAC/Bwari constituency in Abuja.

Aside the fact that it’s well written, Osori’s account takes you through the throngs of VIPs you need to visit and pacify in order to become relevant. Then, of course, there’s the issue of how much you have to grease some palms. This writer doesn’t reserve punches. She tells it all, or so it seems. But this is no surprise, she is a lawyer, after all. She has worked with the World Bank, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the Department of International Development on good governance, gender equality, women’s economic and political participation and ending violence against women.

Elnathan John’s ‘Becoming Nigerian: A Guide’

If you are an ardent follower of this author’s column in Daily Trust on Sunday, or read just one, by any chance, you would be prepared (to an extent) for what to expect in ‘Becoming Nigerian: A Guide’. One of the country’s masters of satire, he takes you through the hypocrisy in virtually every sphere of the Nigerian society: in religion, politics, and so on. A glance at the cover is enough to warn you before you dive in, and about enough to crack you too.

An excerpt from the book reads thus: “The Nigerian God loves elections and politics. When you have bribed people to get the Party nomination, used thugs to steal and stuff ballot boxes, intimidated people into either sitting at home or voting for you, lied about everything from your assets to your age, and you eventually, (through God’s grace), win the election, you must begin by declaring that your success is the will of the almighty and living God and that the other candidate should accept this will of God.”

Elnathan John has twice been shortlisted for the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing. His debut novel, ‘Born on a Tuesday’, won a Betty Trask Award in 2017 and was shortlisted for the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature. He is one of the judges for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. His first graphic novel, On Ajayi Crowther Street, is forthcoming.

Olusegun Adeniyi’s ‘Against the Run of Play’

In this book, Olusegun Adeniyi, current chair of the editorial board of ThisDay newspapers and a former presidential spokesman for the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, chronicles how former president Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election. This book takes “an intense look at Nigerian politics at a time when an entrenched political party was defeated in a presidential election after 16 unbroken years in power. It offers the reader a narrative explanation and an unusual insight into the major human and institutional factors that led up to the defeat of Jonathan.

Adeniyi is also author of ‘The Last 100 Days of Abacha’, ‘Abiola’s Travails’, ‘Fortress on Quicksand’, ‘Politricks: National Assembly Under Military Dictatorship’, and ‘Power, Politics and Death: A front-row account of Nigeria under the late President Yar’adua’.

Chude Jideonwo and Adebola Williams’s ‘How to Win Elections in Africa’

This book is a very important one, and this is why: It’s “a comprehensive guide to understanding the factors that help make an election successful, drawing from global trends and attitudes of electorates the world over. It highlights the crucial but not indispensable roles that legacy, political parties and other establishments play in determining the outcomes of elections.”

Furthermore, the book explores how citizens, through elections can uproot the power structures using examples from within and outside Africa.

Chude Jideonwo and Adebola Williams are co-founders of StateCraft Inc., the nation-building company under RED.

Onyinye Ough’s ‘Halima’s Vote’

There’s hardly any book that teaches Nigerian children voting lessons, so Ough’s is a breath of fresh air. Children may not be of voting age yet, but this book can prepare them. It all begins when Halima’s village is forgotten by government. There are no schools, clinics or clean water. Then, as usual, at election time, politicians come with small gifts of money and food to entice the people. Timid but hardworking, Halima became determined to stand-up for her people.

Written by an international development professional with significant experience in governance and anti-corruption, ‘Halima’s vote’ is described as “a modern parable about the impact of vote buying in Nigeria.” It aims to teach children aged six to twelve about the power of voting and the damage caused by corruption in elections. It also aims to “encourage a new generation of leaders to change how things are done on the continent.”

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