As Nigeria prepares to vote for president on Feb. 14, Nigerian author and activist Yemisi Ilesanmi foresees a choice between bad and worse, especially for LGBTI people who are already oppressed by the country’s new anti-gay law of 2014.
The leading candidates are former military leader Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the main opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), and President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who signed the country’s harsh new anti-gay law a year ago.
Buhari, a Muslim from Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, has a Christian running mate from the south. Jonathan, a Christian from Christian-dominated southern Nigeria, has a Muslim running mate from the north.
In Nigeria, the loudest voices from both religions are anti-gay.
Although Buhari lost decisively to Jonathan in the 2011 presidential election, some observers predict a close race this year because of Jonathan’s inability to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency in the north.
An excerpt from Ilesanmi’s analysis and rant on Free-Thought Blogs:
I shudder to think what would happen to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans under a Buhari presidency. Yes, gays have had nothing but Badluck under Goodluck Jonathan regime; after all the clueless, spineless Goodluck Jonathan signed the anti-gay bill into law, most probably under pressure from his advisers. Nevertheless, I shudder; I truly shudder to think what would happen under a Muhammadu Buhari regime. It would not just be 14 years imprisonment for anyone caught in a same-sex relationship, it would be free whipping, and state-endorsed lynching of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans on the streets of every state in Nigeria.
I can think of the possibility of engaging in an almost rational discussion about LGBT rights with a President Goodluck Jonathan. In fact, I think the big task would not be how to convince Goodluck Jonathan that gays are human beings deserving of respect, dignity, and human rights but how to convince him to grow a spine and stand up to the useless advisers and primitive politicians he surrounds himself with.
Whereas, I cannot even envision the sharia law fanatic, Muhammadu Buhari, granting anyone an audience to discuss lesbians, bisexuals and gays, and transsexual rights. The man might just put a fatwa on the head of LGBTs rights advocates! Therein lies the difference.
So again, why would anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or Trans supports a Muhammadu Buhari presidential ticket? Why would anyone who believes in human rights, women’s rights, and a supporter of LGBT rights want Muhammadu Buhari at the helm of affairs in a country that is already retrogressive and not doing so great when it comes to respecting women and LGBTs rights? It truly baffles the intellect!
Yemisi Ilesanmi is the founder and coordinator of the campaign group Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti-Same Sex Laws.
For more information, read her full post, “Choosing between the Sharia fanatic and the inept, incumbent President: The sad case of a gutless nation.”
- Nigerian politics: Church, state and mosque (economist.com)
- Buhari says no right thinking Nigerian will re-elect Jonathan as President (dailypost.ng)
- Pro-Jonathan Group Declares Support For Buhari (newsdiaryonline.com)
- Muhammadu Buhari to run against Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria elections (theguardian.com)
- Roundup of dozens of gay men in Nigeria (76crimes.com)
- AIDS could rebound as Nigeria gets harsh anti-gay law (76crimes.com)
- Nigeria is one signature away from ‘Jail the Gays’ law (76crimes.com)
- Puny response to 68 arrests in Nigeria’s anti-gay war (76crimes.com)