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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs