News / Africa

    Jonathan Frontrunner for Next Year's Vote in Nigeria

    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan delivers a speech in Port Harcourt on 14 May 2010
    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan delivers a speech in Port Harcourt on 14 May 2010

    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has less than a year to finish out the term of the country's late president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. But he is already the frontrunner for next year's election and will be hard to beat if he improves electricity and enacts electoral reforms.  Mr. Jonathan's candidacy would challenge an informal regional power sharing agreement.

    After months of uncertainty as Nigeria's president, Mr. Jonathan has moved quickly to show that this is now his government following President Yar'Adua's death.

    With a new cabinet and new vice president, Mr. Jonathan has set ambitious goals to boost electricity production, secure the gains of an amnesty for Niger Delta militants, and enact electoral reforms before next year's vote.

    If he succeeds, University of Lagos political science professor Abubakar Momoh says President Jonathan will be hard to beat in the race for the nomination of the ruling People's Democratic Party.

    "There are no people outside of this network of government patronage as such in the PDP that are able, beyond their politicking and sloganeering, who are able to have the kind of economy to be able to sustain the incumbency patronage that Goodluck is able to doll out in the context of the configuration that we now have," Momoh said. "And note that they have only seven months to sort themselves out and that gives an advantage to Goodluck, because they did not expect this scenario."

    Momoh says the president is well positioned to take advantage of divisions within the party over an informal power sharing agreement that rotates the presidency between north and south. That deal says the next ruling-party candidate should be from the north. President Jonathan is from the south.

    "Goodluck is an incumbent, and now a lot of following is tilting in his direction, the balance of forces are therefore in his favor. He's been able to get some echelons, strong henchmen within the secretariat of the party to go, and more heads will roll," Momoh stated. "And they are bringing in allegations of corruption to undermine them, their moral credibility is totally eroded and that is the weakest link in all these matters."

    One of the biggest obstacles to a Jonathan candidacy was ruling-party chairman Vincent Ogbulafor, who said the regional power sharing deal must be respected. But he is stepping down in the face of federal corruption charges and challenges from within the party about how it selects its candidates.

    Former Minister of State for Justice Musa Elayo Abdullahi is a member of the ruling party's reform forum. "The reform group believes that the delegates that are being made to elect the governors and the president are heavily tainted toward the people who are occupying the office of governors currently. Therefore, if you are standing for election as a member of the house of assembly of a state or the house of representatives or the senate, the governor decides whether you can win that primary or not," he said.

    The ruling party's reform movement wants to weaken the power of state governors to make the selection of candidates more transparent. That could help President Jonathan as many of his challengers are expected to come from Nigeria's 36 statehouses.

    Unreliable electricity is one of the most potent political issues in Africa's largest oil producer. President Jonathan has taken charge of improving power supplies by keeping that portfolio for himself in the new cabinet.

    It is a gamble, especially with so short a time to deliver. But if voters see a real difference, it could be the cornerstone of a campaign that political science professor Momoh believes the president is already planning.

    "Jonathan is going to stand [for] elections. Let's not make any qualms about it, even from what he said at the party executive meeting they had about three weeks ago. If you read within the line, he talks about, to use his phrase, "mosquito networking," Momoh explained. "According to him, he was fair. He was square. It was OK. So he was just trying to advertise to the world that 'well look, this thing is permissible, it is a democracy so, let as many flower and blossom'. So that is the thing he is saying to you guys: I am coming."

    President Jonathan is under no real deadline to formally announce his candidacy. The longer he keeps his political opponents off balance, the less time they will have to mount a campaign against him.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora