News / Africa

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan Succeeds Umaru Yar’Adua in Nigeria

Multimedia

Audio

For many Nigerians, Thursday’s swearing-in ceremonies for President Goodluck Jonathan restored some normalcy to what has been a highly erratic chapter in their struggle to perpetuate democratic rule.  From the capital Abuja, human rights attorney Emmanuel Ogebe says Mr. Jonathan must overcome serious hurdles to secure his own candidacy for next year’s Nigeria presidential campaign.

President Yar'Adua (C), flanked by then-Vice President Goodluck Jonathan (R), shakes hands with Government Ekpemupolo (L), commander of rebel group MEND, during their meeting in Abuja on 09 October 2009.
President Yar'Adua (C), flanked by then-Vice President Goodluck Jonathan (R), shakes hands with Government Ekpemupolo (L), commander of rebel group MEND, during their meeting in Abuja on 09 October 2009.

“The first clear problem is who will be his vice president, and the constitution requires that he nominate a candidate who will be confirmed by the Senate – the National Assembly.  The problem is like his cabinet, he might be held hostage by the governors, by the ruling party, or many other interests because he has to balance to pick a Muslim from the north,” said Ogebe.

President Umaru Yar’Adua’s lengthy medical decline may have helped prepare the nation for a relatively smooth transition without any street violence during yesterday’s funeral and inaugural ceremonies.  But, it is not clear how long Mr. Jonathan, a southerner from the Niger Delta, will be able to assert party discipline within the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Traditionally, the PDP has run on a consensus allowing power to alternate between northern leaders for two eight-year terms and then southern leaders.  A Goodluck Jonathan second-term presidency would break that pattern, much to the disappointment of several northern PDP stalwarts who had backed President Yar’Adua, a former northern governor of Nigeria’s Katsina state.  Emmanuel Ogebe says Mr. Jonathan has a 10 month timetable to line up his supporters and find a suitable second-in-command who will not undercut his own candidacy.

“He needs somebody who he can work with.  Now if you foist someone on him that will have conflicts with him, then you are going to have a real succession problem, especially if the new vice president is interested in running (for president) in 11 months’ time,” he pointed out.

In President Jonathan’s favor, a recent visit to the United States allowed him to conclude an important binational treaty with the Obama administration and, upon his return home, he secured the ouster of Independent Electoral Commission Chairman Maurice Iwu, another move toward democratization that was recommended by officials in Washington.

In addition, Ogebe says Nigerians have finally found relief after being frustrated during the past few months by Mr. Yar’Adua’s closest advisers and family members, who they felt were not sharing their concerns about the President’s incapacitation to serve.

“I think that the arrowhead for the cabal who were playing the game of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and cat-and-mouse with the Nigerian people has been dislodged.  There were some members of that gang who were in the cabinet and who were kicked out.  But, there were some who were not in the cabinet and who still continue to hold influence within the villa.  I think those people will have to pack their bags and leave, and I think that the president [Mr. Jonathan] will actually have a lot more breathing space to clean house and move forward,” he said.

58-year-old Umaru Yar’Adua is not the first Nigerian leader to die in office, but he is the first democratically elected president whose term was cut short by death.  Earlier departures included head of state General Murtala Mohammed, who enjoyed widespread popularity, but was assassinated in 1976, and military ruler General Sani Abacha, who died in office, reportedly of a heart attack at the age of 54 in 1998.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More