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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid