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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid