Nigerian elections: the rise of the third-party candidate.

Nigerian elections: the rise of the third-party candidate.

Plus: Protests at Chinese consulate turn violent, the International Olympic Committee suspends Guatemala, and Mexico takes US companies to court.

Hi there Intriguer. We get it; public toilets aren’t great, but was it necessary for someone to destroy a Japanese artefact to prove the point? Japan’s oldest toilet, housed at the Tofukuji temple and built in the 14th century, fell victim to a driver who mistakenly slammed into the temple this week. The porcelain, which one imagines has endured a lot over the centuries, was sadly unable to withstand this final indignity. 

Today’s briefing is a ~5.0 min read:

  • 🇳🇬 Nigerian elections: the rise of the third-party candidate.
  • ➕ Plus: Protests at Chinese consulate turn violent, the International Olympic Committee suspends Guatemala, and Mexico takes US companies to court.

🇳🇬 Thinking ahead: Nigeria’s political challenger

In brief:

  • Peter Obi, a third-party candidate, is currently leading early polls in Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election.
  • Despite receiving substantial support from young Nigerians, it won’t be easy for a new political force to break into the country’s entrenched two-party system.

Frustrations with Nigeria’s two main political parties have opened up space for an outsider.

Shaking up Nigerian politics

It might be a little too early to talk about Nigeria’s February 2023 presidential election, but the country’s political waters are already swirling (we’ll stop talking about toilets now).

  • The most recent polls show a third-party candidate, Peter Obi, in the lead – a rarity in Nigeria’s rusted-on two-party system.

Aanu Adeoye, the Financial Times’ West Africa correspondent, described Obi as “the first credible ‘third-force’ candidate since [Nigeria’s] return to democracy in 1999.”

Who is Peter Obi?

Before becoming the Labour Party candidate, Obi was the youngest chairman of Fidelity Bank and served as Anambra State governor from 2007 to 2014.

  • Obi’s supporters – amusingly nicknamed the ‘Obi-dients’ – believe his business credentials will help him shake up Nigeria’s political scene.

They seem less concerned with the fact his name appeared in the infamous Pandora Papers in connection with tax evasion.

The odd one out

In many ways, Peter Obi stands out from his competitors: he’s a decade younger, a relative political novice, and a Christian.

  • His status as an outsider has helped him connect with young Nigerians, many of whom feel unrepresented by the current system.

These voters also worry about governance failures: Nigeria’s security outlook has deteriorated in recent years, and its economic performance has been less than stellar.

“Young people realised they were not top of the priority list of the old-guard politicians and started looking for a new figure to represent them. Young people are backing him because they believe he is the most credible candidate.”

Winning won’t be easy for Obi

There are several reasons why no third-party candidate has earned more than 7.5% of the vote in over 20 years.

  • Large party systems drive funds – both legal and illegal – into party coffers. As political analyst Ebenezer Obadare points out, Obi and the Labour party are “short-handed and starved of resources.”
  • Nigeria’s electoral system is stacked against newcomers: to secure the presidency in the first round, a candidate must win over 25% of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital.

While the odds of Peter Obi winning next year’s election remain fairly slim, he doesn’t need to win to leave a mark. If he can keep up some momentum, his candidacy may usher in a new, multi-polar era of Nigerian politics.

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The Americas

🇸🇻 El Salvador

El Salvador’s government has extended the country’s state of emergency for a seventh consecutive month in an effort to combat gang-related crime.

  • President Nayib Bukele declared war against organised crime after a secret truce between his government and gang leaders broke down earlier this year.
  • Salvadoran authorities have used the emergency powers to arrest 55,000 people, leading to concerns over due process.

🇬🇹 Guatemala

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has effectively suspended Guatemala after Guatemalan sports authorities failed to resolve a domestic governance dispute.

  • The IOC and Guatemala’s Electoral Court of Federated Sports can’t seem to agree on the legitimate leader of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee.
  • Guatemala’s suspension means its athletes won’t be able to represent their country in upcoming IOC sporting events.

🇲🇽 Mexico

Mexico has filed a new lawsuit against US gun dealers after a US judge threw out a similar case earlier this month.

  • Mexican authorities are accusing US gun dealers of facilitating the influx of weapons into their country, contributing to Mexico’s high homicide rate.
  • ~70% of the firearms seized and submitted to tracking in Mexico between 2014 and 2018 originated in the US.

🇵🇪 Peru

Peru’s chief prosecutor has filed a constitutional complaint against President Pedro Castillo for allegations of corruption, a fresh legal challenge that might result in the president getting ousted .

  • Castillo’s Administration has been marred with allegations of incompetency and corruption since he took office last year.
  • Peru has had five presidents in seven years (HR should really look into those turnover rates).

🇻🇪 Venezuela

The UN’s International Organization for Migration has expressed concern after the US expelled thousands of Venezuelan migrants and asylum seekers to Mexico.

  • Dana Graber Ladek, the IOM’s Mexico Chief of Mission, warned that many of those expelled could not find housing in overcrowded shelters.
  • Under a new plan announced last week, the US will grant humanitarian access to 24,000 Venezuelans entering via airports but will expel migrants crossing overland.

A diplomatic push and pull in the UK

Chinese diplomat Zheng Xiyuan, left, assaulting a pro-democracy protestor in Manchester, UK. Source: Matthew Leung

A Hairy Situation: A senior Chinese diplomat assaulted a Hong Kong pro-democracy protestor outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester, England this past weekend.

  • The assailant, Zheng Xiyuan, is the top Chinese official at the consulate and was seen ripping down posters before yanking at a demonstrator’s hair.

In response: British officials summoned China’s Charge d’Affaires to explain the incident, and are weighing whether to expel members of China’s diplomatic mission.

  • In a speech to colleagues on Tuesday, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Alicia Kearns implored:

“We cannot allow the CCP to import their beating of protesters, their silencing of free speech, and their failure to allow time and time again protests on British soil.”

Some context: the incident demonstrates an increasingly aggressive culture within China’s foreign service, known as ‘wolf warrior diplomacy‘.

  • On top of that, Chinese officials are more on edge than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs this week, as Xi Jinping is expected to secure a third term during the Communist Party Congress in Beijing.

This isn’t the first time Chinese diplomats have acted undiplomatically on UK soil.

  • In 1967, during the height of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese diplomats attacked British police officers outside China’s London embassy, only months after ‘Red Guards’ sacked and burned Britain’s consulate in Beijing.

As Matthew Brooker noted in Bloomberg this week:

“There are already plenty of signs of China’s growing belligerence in the ‘wolf warrior’ era, and when the supreme leader appeals repeatedly for people to show their fighting spirit, nobody should be surprised when they do.”

Will the UK expel the Chinese Consul-General in Manchester?

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