News / Africa

New Nigerian President Vows Electoral Reform Before Next Year's Vote

TEXT SIZE - +

Nigeria's new president says he will make sweeping electoral reforms before next year's nationwide vote. He has laid out an aggressive agenda to complete the term of former President Umaru Yar'Adua, who died late Wednesday.

In their time of mourning, President Goodluck Jonathan says Nigerians must aspire to uphold the values that Mr. Yar'Adua represented.

"We must, in the midst of such great adversity, continue to garner our collective efforts towards upholding the values which our departed leader represented," said President Jonathan. "In this regard, our total commitment to good governance, electoral reform, and the fight against corruption will be pursued with greater vigor."

President Yar'Adua and then-vice-president Jonathan came to power in a 2007 election that was widely criticized by political opponents for voter intimidation and ballot-box stuffing. Mr. Yar'Adua recognized the flawed nature of that vote and set out to make Nigerian elections more transparent.

President Jonathan says that mission must now be completed before local government, legislative, and presidential elections scheduled for next year.

"We must enshrine the best standards in our democratic practice," he said. "One of the true tests will be  to ensure that all votes count and are counted in the upcoming general elections."

U.S. President Barack Obama says Mr. Yar'Adua was committed to creating lasting peace in Nigeria and continuing that work is an important part of honoring his legacy.

U.S. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley:

"President Yar'Adua was working towards building strong democratic institutions based on constitutional processes, and we know that he would want Nigeria to continue on this civilian democratic path," said P.J. Crowley. "We urge all Nigerians to place their faith and support firmly behind orderly, democratic, and constitutional mechanisms."

The change of leadership is not so dramatic for Nigeria as President Jonathan has been running the country for the last several months because of Mr. Yar'Adua's prolonged medical absence. He had already appointed a new Cabinet and started leading efforts to boost electricity supplies.

"I want to reassure Nigerians that the pledges which we have made to improve the socio-economic situation which we face through improved access to electricity, water, education, health facilities, and other social amenities will continue to be given the needed emphasis," said Goodluck Jonathan.

Improving the economy in Africa's largest oil producer means preventing a resurgence of violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

"The efforts at ensuring the sustenance of peace and development in the Niger Delta as well as the security of life and property around the entire country will be a top most priority in the remaining period of this administration," he said.

President Yar'Adua secured an amnesty deal with Niger Delta militants last year. But the plan to supply job training and a monthly stipend to former rebels lost momentum because of his health problems. Nigerian security forces now say former gunmen frustrated with the pace of the amnesty plan are once again stealing oil.

Akwa Ibom Senator Effiong Bob says it is up to President Jonathan and the National Assembly to follow through with Mr. Yar'Adua's strong start in the Niger Delta.

"Militancy has drastically reduced because of his action," said Effiong Bob. "What we need now is the continuation and completion of the policy initiated by him."

At the most, President Jonathan has just one year to accomplish these goals before voters go to the polls to choose a new leader.

Under an unofficial power-sharing agreement between northern and southern Nigeria, the ruling party would name a northern politician to run for what would have been President Yar'Adua's second term.

President Jonathan is from the south so would not be a candidate under that arrangement. But there is no constitutional provision stopping him from running for his own mandate, and he has not ruled out doing so.

How much he can get done in the next year may well determine whether President Jonathan challenges the ruling party's regional apportionment or decides to run as an independent.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid