News / Africa

Nigerian Acting President Promises Better Elections

Nico Colombant

Nigeria's acting President Goodluck Jonathan has assured American officials in Washington he is working quickly to improve often chaotic elections in Africa's most populous nation.  He also downplayed concerns Nigeria could become an international terrorist threat.  

Three years ago, when he was sworn in as Nigeria's vice president, Goodluck Jonathan was a politician from the oil-rich Niger Delta known for little more than his interesting name.

He became acting president two months ago, after a prolonged absence of the controversially-elected President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua due to illness.  Last month, Mr. Jonathan dismissed the previous Cabinet and named a new one.

Monday, Mr. Jonathan was in Washington at the Council on Foreign Relations, explaining he intends to work quickly, especially on improving elections.

"There are certain things that we can achieve even in the next six months, certain things that are quite disturbing to the country, especially the issues of conducting elections that are always questionable," said Goodluck Jonathan. "These are human issues you do not need more than a year to solve it.  So I promise Nigerians and the rest of the world that the 2011 elections in Nigeria will be credible."

Mr. Jonathan also dismissed characterizations of Nigeria as a terrorist threat, following the arrest last year of a young Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to blow up a U.S.-bound plane.

"Nigeria as a nation believes in global peace," said Mr. Jonathan. "Internationally that is our strongest focus.  People in the world must live in peace.  We do not believe that one individual or a group of individuals should be a terror to the rest of human society."

Mr. Jonathan will be in Washington several more days meeting with other U.S. officials, lawmakers and the local Nigerian community.

Sunday, Mr. Jonathan and several Nigerian officials paid a courtesy visit to President Obama.  The leaders discussed efforts to combat corruption, terrorism, deadly sectarian violence and improving elections.

The visit took place as dozens of leaders from around the world came to Washington to attend a Nuclear Security Summit and as U.S. officials showed increased interest in helping Nigeria.

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the signing of an agreement to set up a U.S.-Nigerian bi-national commission.  She said the first goal would be to improve elections.

"The commission will focus on electoral reform and election preparations in order to achieve free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria in 2011 and beyond," said Hillary Clinton.

An expert in U.S.-Nigerian relations, retired professor Ignatius Ukpabi, is not surprised by this flurry of bilateral activity.  He says Nigeria's high oil output makes it an important U.S. partner.  He also dismissed concerns about terrorism coming from Nigeria, and welcomed U.S. help for better elections.

"They want Nigeria to be a democratic country, that other countries should actually emulate," said  Ignatius Ukpabi. "I think elections in Nigeria should be something that when somebody is elected in Nigeria, we should know that whomever has won the election is actually the person who won the election, not by any other means."

U.S. officials have also called for changing top Nigerian election officials.  The last vote in 2007 was marred by voter intimidation, widespread violence during campaigning and voting, as well as accusations by the opposition of fraud during vote counting.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid