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New Nigerian President Must Tackle Energy, Jobs, says Analyst

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Joe DeCapua

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan faces pressing domestic issues, says an analyst, including unreliable electricity and high unemployment among young people.

President Jonathan
President Jonathan

Jonathan took the oath of office Thursday, following the death Wednesday night of President Yar’Adua, who had been ill and incommunicado for some time.

Chuks Osuji, executive director of Opinion Research and Communication Consultants in Oweri in Imo State, says the mood of the country is very sad following Yar’Adua’s death.

“Everybody,” he says, “is very, very sorry for the departure of our highly, most cherished and focused president.  He was very popular, not as a very good president, but as a very good leader.”

Still upset

Osuji says Nigerians are still upset over being denied information about Yar’Adua’s poor health while he was in a Saudi Arabian hospital for months, a situation that continued when he recently returned home.  Even high ranking Nigerian officials were unable to see him.

“That is the saddest aspect of his presidency.  His handlers did not package that issue very well and that tended to make the people disapprove of his handlers.  People did not take it out on the president because people already knew that he did not know what he was doing,” he says.

Osuji says Yar’Adua was being “manipulated by a group we describe as a cabal, who wanted to remain in power, who wanted to maintain the status quo irrespective of the constitutionality of whatever they were doing.”

Lessons learned

The analyst views this as a challenge to Nigerian democracy.

“In the first place, the people of Nigeria have come to appreciate the fact that constitutional provisions must be maintained, respected,” he says, “when it comes to issues such as this.”

He praises the military for upholding democracy and not attempting to stage a coup during Yar’Adua’s illness.

“The Nigerian military has become sane and very respectful of the provisions of the law.  Otherwise, the military…had all the…opportunities to make a resurgence,” he says.

He adds, “Nigerians have learned the military is no longer interested because coup d’état has become absolutely an aberration.”

What’s more, Osuji says it’s become clear that the National Assembly “is really where the power of democracy lies.”

What lies ahead for Yar’Adua

“Goodluck Jonathan,” he says, “will have to plan ahead. Be sure that he implements most of the programs of Yar’Adua because he was part of the inseparable ticket.”

Osuji sees two major and persisting problems confronting the new president – an unreliable supply of electricity in a major fuel producing nation and a very high unemployment rate among Nigerian youth.

“He has made it absolutely clear to the people of Nigeria, to the people of the world, that the election of 2011will not be flawed like that of the one that brought him and Yar’Adua to power,” he says.

Osuji does not expect any controversy over Yar’Adua’s pick for vice-president, predicting the candidate will come from northern Nigeria.

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