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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
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.

VOA Blogs

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