News / Africa

Nigerians to Vote in Presidential Polls

A Nigerian man hawks snacks along a street lined with destroyed posters advertising Presidential candidate Jonathan Goodluck at Jos, Apr 15 2011
A Nigerian man hawks snacks along a street lined with destroyed posters advertising Presidential candidate Jonathan Goodluck at Jos, Apr 15 2011

Nigerians are preparing to cast their ballots on Saturday in the country's presidential election, a contest that incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is highly favored to win.

Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Committee, INEC, says it is prepared for presidential balloting after a bumpy start earlier this month.

Saturday's poll is the second in a three-part general election being held in Africa's most populous nation, and is seen as a test of whether Nigeria can hold fair elections after a decade of polls marred by corruption and violence.

Parliamentary elections held last week were postponed twice after ballot distribution problems, but INEC says all 70 million voters should be able to cast their ballots Saturday.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the former vice president, is seeking his first full term after assuming the presidency last year upon the death of his predecessor.

Although Jonathan is favored to win in a crowded field of a dozen other candidates, his two main rivals are 68-year-old former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, and the 50-year-old former anti-corruption head, Nuhu Ribadu.

One voter named Mario Samuel made it very clear who he would vote for.

"General Buhari, because he's the man whom we shall trust over all the other aspirants," Samuel said.

Samuel says he does not trust Jonathan's party, the ruling People's Democratic Party, to tackle the problem of deep-seated corruption.

Another voter, an unemployed university graduate, said he was going to vote for Buhari but changed his mind after President Jonathan promised to help create jobs for Nigeria's large number of unemployed youths.

"I made up my mind that I'm going to vote for him [Jonathan], provided he is able to meet all his political objectives," said the voter.

The PDP has won every presidential poll since the end of military rule in 1999. The party suffered significant losses in last week's polls, losing seats in the southwest and north, but still managed to maintain its majority in the National Assembly.

A fellow at international think tank Chatham House, Sola Tayo, says it's unclear whether the PDP's losses will have a major effect on the presidential poll, but that Jonathan may lose votes for failing to distinguish himself from his opponents on key campaign issues.  

"Obviously the presidentials are based more on personalities. People will vote for the party, but they tend to vote a lot for the personality," said Tayo. "Goodluck Jonathan has seen a slump in popularity recently and Mohammadu Buhari has really, really come up because a lot of people are looking to him because he's a disciplinarian and he's anti-corruption. And they take him a bit more seriously than Goodluck Jonathan, some disillusioned voters."

An Abuja-based political scientist, Ibrahim Jibrin, said regardless if Jonathan wins, the country is likely to end up with a far more dynamic political system than it has seen in more than a decade.

"The political system will have more of an equilibrium. We've had this situation in which one party controls three-quarters of the states in the country and three-quarters of the seats in the National Assembly," said Jibrin. "That created a monolithic system in which one party was dominant and the opposition was extremely weak."

"The new future," added Jibrin, "will be one in which you are going to have three or four major parties sharing seats in the National A ssembly and sharing control of states."

Jibrin says even if the shrunken PDP majority makes it more difficult for Jonathan to govern, it is healthier overall for Nigeria's democracy.

"It is more difficult, but it is also more reflective of the nature of the country. I don't believe that the PDP had the type of support it claimed," Jibrin said. "It was clear to me that a lot of their seats were through electoral fraud. What you have now is a situation in which the representation at the political level will reflect more truly the political composition of the country."

In order to win, Jonathan will not only need a simple majority but at least 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of the country's 36 states. This rule requires candidates to try and gain the support of as many regions as possible. Jonathan's stronghold is in the predominantly Christian south, while Buhari's is in the Muslim north.

Elections monitors will once again be on hand to observe the country's poll. Despite some isolated incidents of violence last week, observers said the parliamentary elections were mostly free and fair. Turnout is expected to be much higher for the presidential poll and state polls slated for next week.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs