🌍 Nigeria’s election
Plus: A key meeting between the leaders of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus
Today’s edition is a 4.8 min read:
- 🇳🇬 Nigeria votes.
- 🇨🇾 A crucial meeting between the leaders of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus.
- ➕ Plus: China’s peace plan for the Russo-Ukraine War, how the papers are covering last week’s G20 ministerial meeting, and a country’s new trains… that don’t fit the tunnels.
– VC & EP
🚀 One day left to help us reach our goal of 10,000 new subscribers by the end of Feb, and we’re… oh so close! Make a friend’s day/week/century and tell them about Intrigue!
🗺️ AROUND THE WORLD
- 🇲🇽 Mexico: Protests have erupted across Mexico after a move by the President (‘AMLO’) to shrink the country’s electoral body. AMLO is still relatively popular, but voters are spooked by his history of denying election results and weakening the checks on his power.
- 🇩🇪 Germany: Germany’s economy contracted by more than expected in late 2022, sparking renewed fears of a recession in Europe’s largest economy. The 0.4% drop in GDP was caused by decreased consumer spending and corporate investment.
- 🇦🇺 Australia: An Australian intelligence agency has dismantled a Russian spy ring which had been operating for more than 18 months. The spies had been trying to recruit Australians with access to classified information.
- 🇫🇯 Fiji: Pacific Island leaders have met in Fiji to appoint a new regional leader, the former President of Nauru (the world’s smallest republic). They also discussed Japan’s plans to release a million tonnes of treated nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.
- 🇴🇲 Oman: Oman and the Holy See established full diplomatic ties on Thursday (23 February), as Pope Francis pushes for more inter-religious dialogue. The Vatican now has diplomatic relations with all Arabian peninsula countries bar Saudi Arabia.
🇳🇬 NIGERIA | ELECTIONS
Briefly: Early results are treacling in from Nigeria’s elections over the weekend, its tightest race since the end of military rule there in 1999. There were reports of delays, glitches and violence, but the most notable story so far has been the high voter turnout.
Some context: A key driver behind the high turnout is Nigeria’s youth: there are 37 million folks there aged 18-34, making them the country’s single largest bloc. And they’ve been energised by the slick social media campaign mounted by third party candidate Peter Obi.
But it also seems they’re energised by sheer dissatisfaction (see below) and a broader rejection of the status quo, rather than any particular Obi policy or vision.
It’s too early to tell which way the electoral wind has blown over the weekend (we should know in the coming days). But early results suggest it could be a race between Obi and the ruling party’s candidate Bola Tinubu, a long-time kingmaker whose campaign slogan was (no joke) “it’s my turn”.
Intrigue’s take: The Nigerian commitment to voting is an inspiration: some voters endured long hikes, day-long waits, and even mortar shelling. And whoever wins will have a tough gig. Their in-tray will include inflation, insecurity and an Islamist insurgency.
But this election has re-energised Nigeria in a way few saw coming. Dr Lasisi Olagunju, a Nigerian newspaper editor, summed it up with a quote by the 17th Century Japanese poet, Mizuta Masahide: “My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.”
Also worth noting:
- The latest African Youth Survey found young Nigerians were the most pessimistic on the continent, with 95% saying their country is heading in the wrong direction.
- Nigeria’s top trending topics on Twitter over the weekend related to football and music (election-related topics came in at 4th and 6th).
📰 GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
How different newspapers covered: Friday’s G20 finance ministers’ meeting in India.
Sponsored by Best Buy
Best Buy is the #1 retailer for consumer electronics.
They work hard every day to enrich the lives of consumers through technology, whether they come to us online, visit our stores or invite us into their homes.
🇨🇾 CYPRUS | RECONCILIATION
A tale of two Cypruses
Briefly: The leaders of Cyprus and Turkey-backed Northern Cyprus have met for the first time since the election of Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides earlier this month.
The two leaders met on neutral ground in a UN-controlled zone that separates the capital, Nicosia. The UN described the meeting as “open and constructive”.
Some context: Following independence from Britain in 1960, ethnic tensions culminated in a pro-Greece coup attempt in 1974, then a Turkish invasion of Northern Cyprus to establish a de facto state there. Turkey is the only country that recognises Northern Cyprus.
Intrigue’s take: Talking is always good (unless you’re 2022-era Kanye West). But despite sharing a home not much bigger than Long Island, the two Cypruses are still a world apart. The Cypriot leader backs a UN process to unify the island as a federation, while the Turkish Cypriot leader now backs a “two-state solution” (a phrase not known to spark optimism).
Also worth noting:
🕊️ PEACE PLAN OF THE DAY
After a year of staying on the sidelines…
… China is throwing its hat in the ring. On Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a 12-point plan for a “Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.”
Among other things, the plan calls for an end to hostilities, mutual respect for sovereignty, resumption of peace talks, and the facilitation of grain exports. But sceptics, like NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, say the plan is vague and “China does not have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
Still, China holds rare sway over Russia, so staking a pro-peace position is a step in the right direction. And some Ukrainian officials agree, calling it a “good sign that [China] wants to be involved in the global efforts to stop the war in Ukraine.”
China’s peace plan also helps Beijing blunt international criticism of its muted role to date.
👀 EXTRA INTRIGUE
A collection of light-hearted news to start the week with a laugh (unless you’re Spain’s former transport secretary).
- Spain’s transport secretary resigned after a number of new trains were found too big to fit though tunnels.
- A museum visitor accidentally knocked over and broke a $42,000 Jeff Koons sculpture (you’ll be glad to hear the visitor won’t be charged.)
- An Indian IT company has developed software to remind its employees to go home at the end of their shift.
- Bing’s new AI chatbot is apparently acting “unhinged”, and once tried to gaslight a user into thinking it was 2022. Maybe the bots are more like us than we think.
🗳️ POLL TIME!
How confident are you that a new President can fix Nigeria’s problems?
Friday’s poll: What’s on your mind, a year into the Russo-Ukraine War?
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 💭 Let us know what you think
🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ ⌨️ In the comments
Your two cents:
- 💭 P.F: “Even now, the prediction of a future stalemate feels premature.”
- 💭 J.D: “The big question that I’m sure is on everyone’s minds is what could occur that could cause NATO nations to become directly involved in the conflict?”