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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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