News / Africa

Nigerian President Vows to Strengthen Democratic Rule

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, center, inspects a guard of honor during his inauguration ceremony at the main parade ground in Nigeria's capital of Abuja. Jonathan was sworn in Sunday for a full four-year term as president of Nigeria, May 29, 2011
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, center, inspects a guard of honor during his inauguration ceremony at the main parade ground in Nigeria's capital of Abuja. Jonathan was sworn in Sunday for a full four-year term as president of Nigeria, May 29, 2011

The inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria Sunday marks the country's third civilian government since the end of military rule in 1999.

President Jonathan first came to power following the death last year of leader Umaru Musa Yar'adua. Ascending from the vice presidency, Jonathan vowed to continue the Yar'adua administration's commitment to electoral reform.

So having won his own four-year mandate in elections last month, President Jonathan says he understands well what that vote means for Nigerian democracy.

“Over 72 million eligible Nigerians endured all manner of inconveniences just to secure their voters' cards in order to exercise their right to choose those who will govern them. At the polls, we saw the most dramatic expression of the hunger for democracy, stories of courage and patriotism,” said Jonathan.

In his inaugural address, President Jonathan vowed to work with the legislative and judicial branches of government to strengthen the electoral process.

The executive director of Nigeria's Center for Democracy and Development, Jibo Ibrahim, says the three branches have had their difficulties since 1999 but have all risen to the occasion at critical times, especially the judiciary.

“They have made considerable contributions toward sustaining the political order in a context where elections have been very problematic, unstable, and characterized by fraud. So the judiciary has been able to step in to at least sustain some level of electoral justice,” said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim says lawmakers have worked hard to keep their distance from the presidency. “That is very important in a functional democracy. So I think the institutions all have their problems, but they have been able to sustain their roles over the last 12 years,” he added.

Hussein Abdu, Nigeria's country director for the anti-poverty group Action Aid, says President Jonathan must strengthen the institutions of democracy. He says much of the credit for April's vote went to electoral commissioner Attahiru Jega, not the institution of the commission itself.

“Yes, we did better than where we were coming from in these last elections. That is quite good. It is quite commendable. But what I hear people saying is about the role of the chair of the electoral commission, the person of Attahiru Jega and the role that he played," said Adu. "So we don't actually want individual-driven institutions. We want institutions that are strong enough that even if you bring the worst person, the institution will discipline that person to do the right thing.”

Yobe State Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan says the experience of last month's nationwide vote should improve the next election.

“I think we can build on a fairly solid and sound foundation the way of electing our leaders and representatives. In 2015, by the grace of God, from our experience of 2011 elections we should be able to conduct even better and more transparent and credible elections than 2011. And everybody will have known by then - politicians, electors, and everyone - that you need to perform in office before you are returned,” he stated.

Electoral observers from the group of Commonwealth nations recommend that the electoral commission improve communications with poll workers. In their final report on the vote, the Commonwealth observers are calling for timely prosecution to end the culture of impunity for those who commit electoral offenses.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs