Nigeria’s Election: Why It Matters


Tomorrow, Nigerians head to the polls.    I recently spoke on Nigerian Radio Continental with popular host “Citizen Jones”   about the importance of this election – not only for selecting the nation’s president –  but for why it matters to the rest of the world.

Radio Continental’s Citizen Jones

As a veteran CNN journalist and current business consultant who has spent months working with hundreds of students and professionals in Nigeria, much is at stake.

Incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan is squaring off again against former military leader  Mohammadu  Buhari.  It’s the fourth time Buhari has tried for the highest office since he took charge after a coup back in the 80s and it’s the second time he’ll face Jonathan.   Latest polls show the race is a tight one. But this contest is more than betting on the long-running horse race of Buhari’s persistence.

From my perch, the top issues facing Nigeria are:

  1. Maintaining and improving the country’s economy
  2. Curbing widespread corruption
  3. Eradicating Boko Haram

Economy.  Nigeria is proudly Africa’s number one economy – taking the title away from South Africa for nearly a year now.   Its vast oil riches support its base and analysts say it is bolstered by strong agriculture, information and communications technology.

But the chasm between the haves and the have-nots is evident the moment you arrive.  Tin-topped shanty neighborhoods mushroom under the shade of sprawling gold-encrusted McMansions.  Customized Range Rovers share the road with dilapidated, exhaust- spewing  yellow “danfo” vans dangerously filled with poor commuters.

Corruption.  Everybody knows it goes on.  And everybody has a story.  Like last September when I was  touring the country on a training circuit and kept  reading headlines about the private plane that left the capital city of Abuja for South Africa.  When it landed, officials discovered it was carrying 10 MILLION dollars in cash.  There was plenty of speculation about who had chartered the plane and what the money was planned for but I never heard any real answers.

One step toward righting this ongoing wrong would be for peace and fairness to be found at all Nigeria’s polls tomorrow.  In 2007, antics during the elections prompted the US State Department to describe them as “Flawed.” There was substantial improvement in 2011’s election, but observers still claimed there was widespread fraud and voter rigging.

A smooth and peaceful election this weekend could  set a standard and example for other developing democracies across the globe.  Both candidates publically signed an agreement this week promising to respect the election’s outcome and urging their supporters to refrain from violence.

Boko Haram.  This month’s announced alliance between Boko Haram and ISIS dramatically illustrates that  rooting out terrorism is the world’s problem, not simply the country in which the terrorists are residing and fighting.

Whoever wins Nigeria’s election must seek out and forge strong alliances with partner countries to put an end to the madness – for everyone.

As I discussed with the other panelists on Radio Continental,  journalists have a responsibility to accurately – and independently –  cover and report tomorrow’s elections.  Together, Nigerian journalists and its government can work together to build a better nation – and a better world.

I’ll be back on Radio Continental on Monday and I hope we’ll be talking how it was an unprecedented peaceful weekend of hope and fulfilled promises by both political parties.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 



The Optimism of Daffodils

As it is Daffodil Day here in Ireland, a day to donate, volunteer and wear a daffodil in support of finding a cure for cancer, I am reminding us all of the grand optimism that resides in these buttery bright flowers! 

Amid lingering piles of snow, battering gusts of wind or, like here in Ireland, drenching torrents of rain, it may not yet feel like spring is at hand.  But some diligent stalwarts are already foretelling the new season’s arrival.

Like many of us, they have spent the winter  in dark solitude.  Unseen, they may have been largely forgotten. But they did not need to be recognized or rewarded or encouraged.  They are self-motivators, working steadily throughout the cold months driven by determination.

And now in our parks and along the green, grassy medians of our roadways, the rewarding results of their tireless  labors are emerging.

An old man in worn and shabby clothing meanders among the rows of bright yellow and looks out upon them.  An overly critical eye might predispose one to assume he should be given a wide berth; he is very likely a person not worth engaging.  But one would be wrong indeed.

This unassuming gentleman spoke and perfectly summed up the sentiment that rings through these dependable heralds with faces stretching upward toward an inconsistent sun:

Ah, the optimism of daffodils.”


How many times are we burdened by work or family or life and forget that a little dogged determination, or focused optimism – viewed as an action-word – not a simple state of being or emotion – will get us through?

Take a tip from the daffodils. The sun will come out again. Maybe not tomorrow. But it will.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

Tree Therapy. It’s not just for the Birds.

It’s national “Tree Week” here in Ireland.  Although  some of you may still be looking out on expanses of that cold wet white stuff called snow, the sun here in Cork is bright – and considering it is now March, one might safely say the air is spring-like.

Spring time in Cork, Ireland
Spring time in Cork, Ireland

So, it’s timely that the Irish Independent newspaper published an article today touting the healthy benefits of exposing yourself to trees.   Well, not exposing yourself in that sense.  Shame on you.  But the article sites research – conducted in Europe, Asia and Australia – that demonstrates

walking in a forest or going to a park can measurably reduce stress, boost immunity and calm aggression.

Specifically in Britain, a study found recovery rates improved faster if the patients could simply see trees from their hospital window.


Recently, I have been racked by the flu and a throat-splitting cough that has left me with laryngitis.  The doctor says it’s a virus that’s going around. Only time, rest, plus perhaps warm water with lemon and honey (and a dash of Irish whiskey) will help.   I usually conquer the flu in a couple of days, but this bout is moving into two weeks!

Eager and impatient to improve, I also sought out a salt-therapy clinic upon the advice of a well-meaning friend.  However, 175 Euro and five hour-long sessions later, I cannot concretely say I feel a direct improvement from sitting in that darkened room with its sodium-filled trough around its perimeter breathing in the salty-air.  And as my symptoms persist, my good humor and regular upbeat outlook seem to be disappearing like my voice.

So, maybe it’s not time, rest, lemon-honey-water plus salt-therapy that will do the trick.   Instead I am moved by this week’s reminder and supportive research reports that the great outdoors are exactly that. Great.


I am well enough to get out of the house, not only to drive to the pharmacy for another bottle of cough expectorant, but why not also to take a walk?

  1. Get out of the office.
  2. Drive past the shopping centers and cinemas.
  3. Go to a forest.

Memories of growing up in rural Indiana where our spring-time weekend family outings often meant hunting for morel mushrooms together in the woods come flooding to my mind.  I always feel better physically and emotionally after a walk among the trees.

It just so happens we live thirty minutes away from one of the world’s rare alluvial forests, The Gearagh.  Like a trip to the salt-clinic, a walk in the forest will surely not directly impact my sore vocal chords. But now, with or without my restored voice, I feel my sagging spirits lift as I prepare to trek among the ancient oaks and search for exotic birds and plants.  Plus, since The Gearagh is an Irish Nature Preserve, this therapy will be free.


That’s a therapy few of us can afford not to take.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.