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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 266 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid