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Nigeria: Candidate Selection Process Not Good for Democracy, Professor Says


In Nigeria, the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari holds its convention Monday to choose its candidate for the April 2007 presidential elections. Sunday, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) picked 55 year-old Umaru Yar'Adua of the northern Muslim state of Katsina as its candidate.

Abubakar Siddique Mohammed is professor of political science at Ahmadu Bello University. He said the PDP candidate selection process was flawed.

“You are in the United States. You know that the primaries are conducted in a transparent manner. Members of the party come out to choose their own candidate. But in virtually all the states of the federation, candidates were imposed by the governors. In some states, in fact delegates were not even allowed to vote. The cards were seized from them and given to chairmen of the party to do the actual voting. And so many people were actually eliminated by these panels even before they contested. And this is not good for democracy in this country,” he said.

Mohammed also took issue with the way the various governors running president handled themselves.

“There is nothing wrong with a governor wanting to contest the presidential election next year. But what is ridiculous about the whole process was that you saw governors visiting each other seeking for support. The governor of say Cross Rivers State who is interested in the presidency would visit the governor of Kaduna State who has also declared his interest in the presidency. So they were just circulating among themselves. They didn’t come out to seek support from the people,” Mohammed said.

He said he understood the selection of Bayelsa State Governor Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner, as the vice presidential choice for the ruling PDP Party.

“I can see why the vice president may have to come either from the Southeast or the South-South given the fact that in the last eight years, President Obasanjo from the southwest has been the president of the country,” he said.

But Mohammed wondered why the governors from the South-South within the PDP would renege on their previous position that they would settle for nothing except the presidency. But he said understands that in politics anything is possible.

Embattled Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who has been shunned by his own party, is likely to seek the endorsement of the Action Congress Party, which has reportedly entered into a working agreement for an alliance with the All Nigeria Peoples Party. Mohammed said any such alliance would present a challenge to the ruling PDP.

“It would certainly be formidable. In fact, the problem is that if the PDP does not put its house in order, there would be implosion. Those who have left the PDP and now moved to other parties were in government before. They are also rich like the PDP, and so they are really going to give PDP a big fight. And that is my fear of the country. Because of the desperation of the PDP, they are likely to go out the way they did during the last election to rig the election in a manner which is far blatant and open. And if they do that this time, it would certainly affect the stability of the country because the stakes are so high,” Mohammed said.

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