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Gavin: A Blow for Nigerian Democracy

Interviewee: Michelle D. Gavin
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson
April 30, 2007

Michelle D. Gavin, CFR's international affairs fellow, discusses her work as an electoral observer in Nigeria and the role of young people in Nigerian politics. She says in the recent gubernatorial and presidential elections, which were marred by widespread vote stuffing and irregularities, Nigerians “appeared to be less enfranchised,” leading many observers to conclude that for democracy, “the trendline appeared to be moving in the wrong direction.” The most prominent role that Nigeria's huge youth population played in the recent election was as paid party thugs, she says. These young people are looking for jobs and ways to better their lives, but Nigeria's institutions “don't appear to be structured to serve anyone but political elites.” She cautions against the United States personalizing its relationship with the Nigerian government going forward.

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