News / Africa

Nigeria's Ruling Party Faces Political Challenges in 2014

 Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria (center), in Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 12, 2013.
Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria (center), in Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 12, 2013.
Anne Look
Nigeria saw a major political shake-up in 2013 with the opposition coming together and governors and parliament members defecting in droves from the ruling party.  Analysts see serious challenges ahead for President Goodluck Jonathan and his party this year as the country gears up for presidential elections in 2015.

2013 saw a new opposition emerge in Nigeria -- one that is more united and more defiant than anything the country has seen since military rule ended in 1999.

This mega-party is called the All Progressive's Congress, or APC.  Key figures from both the opposition and the ruling PDP party have flocked to its ranks since July.

APC politicians, like Hajiya Hafsat Mohammed Baba in Kaduna, said people wanted change.

"And that change, the way we see it, is inevitable.  It is coming and it will come very soon…. Politics is a game of numbers and we are increasing by the day," he said.

Five of Nigeria's powerful state governors recently defected to the APC from the ruling party, including those from voter-heavy states like Kano and Rivers.

Also, 37 members of the lower house of the National Assembly have switched from the PDP to APC, taking away the PDP's majority.

APC politicians and analysts said that they expected to see as many as seven more governors, as well as members of the National Assembly's upper house, the Senate, defect to the APC in early 2014.

"Definitely, People's Democratic Party has never had it so bad because to be elected president of this country even if you have the majority of the votes, the law says that you must have 24 states out of 36, two-thirds of them," said Political commentator Abubakar Sufiyan Osa Idu Al Siddiq.

But he and other analysts said that this rapid influx of members to the APC could be a double-edged sword.

"It was supposed to be a new platform that would bring hope to Nigeria by challenging all that we say was wrong with the PDP.  Yet this same party is extending its hand of fellowship, moving from one part of the country to the next, bringing these same bad guys, these same discredited politicians, these same thieves, whatever title you want to use for them, [they] are the same persons they are bringing into the APC…. These are the same old stock who will never change," said head of the political science department at the Delta State College of Education, Isitoah Ozoemene.

Members of the ruling party, like Saidu Usman Gombe of the Northern Youth Awareness Forum, said the newly-expanded APC would implode.

"This opposition party, they are deceiving themselves, even in the party, that opposition party, there is a lot of clash.  They will crack.  They will break down completely before [the end of] 2014," he said.

The People's Democratic Party, or PDP, has run Nigeria since 1999.  It has been the only party to have a national presence from the highest posts in the country down to the country's 774 local governments.

Dissatisfaction with President Goodluck Jonathan - especially with his efforts fighting corruption and his violation of an unwritten PDP rule to trade off the presidency between northerners and southerners - has been a key driver of the defections.

Analysts said President Jonathan was more isolated than ever.

Some speculate that he could face an impeachment attempt in 2014 as the opposition gains ground in the National Assembly.

2013 didn't exactly end on a high note.  In December, his political godfather, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, denounced him publicly in an 18-page open letter that ripped apart Jonathan's performance in office and told him not to run in 2015.

The presidency hit back saying that letter was irresponsible, untrue and aimed at fueling defections to the opposition. 

It is impossible to say whether it's too late for the PDP to turn things around and reconcile with its prodigal members before 2015, but analysts say elections up ahead are going to be interesting and could transform Nigeria's political landscape. 

Ardo Hazzad contributed reporting from Bauchi, Ibrahima Yakubu from Kaduna, and Hilary Uguru from Warri, Nigeria.

You May Like

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid