News / Africa

    Challenges Ahead for Nigeria's New Acting President

    Goodluck Jonathan says his primary focus is driving down double-digit inflation, boosting electricity supplies, and getting the 2010 budget through parliament.

    Nigeria's new acting president and commander in chief Goodluck Jonathan is pictured as he takes office in Abuja, 10 Feb 2010
    Nigeria's new acting president and commander in chief Goodluck Jonathan is pictured as he takes office in Abuja, 10 Feb 2010

    Multimedia

    Audio

    After more than two months of political uncertainty over the absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua, Nigeria's new acting president Goodluck Jonathan takes power facing a host of economic and security issues.

    Mr. Jonathan's most immediate impact has clearly been economic.

    The acting president freed up more than $2 billion from Nigeria's excess crude oil account to help fund state governments. He says his primary focus is driving down double-digit inflation, boosting electricity supplies, and getting the 2010 budget through parliament.

    "We see a need to prioritize on a few of the most critical areas which continue  to plague our efforts at engendering meaningful economic growth and development. Some of these critical sectors include power, infrastructure, security, generation of employment, and business opportunities for our teeming young men and women," he said.

    For Africa's top oil producer, focusing on the economy means ensuring the free flow of crude. Four years of sabotage and killing in the Niger Delta cut oil production by more than one-quarter. But that is now slowly returning to normal since thousands of fighters accepted President Yar'Adua's amnesty offer five months ago.

    Opeyemi Agbaje is with the Lagos corporate consulting group Resource and Trust Company.

    Challenges Ahead for Nigeria's New Acting President
    Challenges Ahead for Nigeria's New Acting President

    "The amnesty in the Niger Delta, which has allowed oil production to begin to rise up again which has restored some peace in the region, is threatened. There is fear that that could unravel if the situation is not quickly managed," said Agbaje.

    Acting President Jonathan vows to consolidate the gains of the amnesty and is appealing for patience.  He says there will be no meaningful development without peace and security.

    Some fighters who did not take part in that amnesty say they have broken the ceasefire and are again attacking oil pipelines. But the main rebel group says it will cooperate with Mr. Jonathan if he agrees to their demands for local control of the region's vast energy resources.

    Abdulwaheed Omar is President of Nigeria's National Labor Congress.

    "It is our hope that he will focus attention on the Niger Delta issue with a view to fulfilling all the promises and agreements reached with the military representatives of the militants," he said.

    Battling that rebellion and ultimately securing an amnesty consumed much of President Yar'Adua's first term. Former Information Minister Jerry Gana says Acting President Jonathan must move quickly to secure those gains so he can move on to other challenges.

    "Without peace and security, there can not be development and progress in the nation, to ensure that criminals are detected and punished effectively with the issue of restoring fairness, justice, equity," he said.

    Gana says the acting president has the power to end Nigeria's collective uncertainty.

    "Political will should be demonstrated, decisive action should be taken and give the nation a new lease on life," Gana added.

    Mr. Jonathan is moving ahead with preparations for presidential and legislative elections next year. Labor leader Omar says the acting president must make changes before that vote.

    "The acting president should ensure that the electoral reforms that every man and woman in Nigeria has canvassed for will see the light of day," he said.

    President Yar'Adua's absence has meant delay outside Nigeria as well. The annual summit of the Economic Community of West African States was twice postponed because Mr. Yar'Adua was not present to fulfill his duties as chairman of the regional alliance.

    With Mr. Jonathan at the helm, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs Mahamane Toure says that summit will go ahead on Tuesday.

    "We are really pleased with the new development. We have been following with concern what has been happening in Nigeria because Nigeria is the chair of ECOWAS. So we are very pleased with the new development which allows Nigeria to take its full leadership," said Toure.

    While his is a temporary appointment, the acting president has moved quickly to make clear that this is now his government to run. In his first day in office, Mr. Jonathan sacked the justice minister without notifying the ruling party.

    "These are presidential powers. He has the power to move any of us," comments Information Minister Dora Akunyili

    Nigeeria's new acting president and commander in chief Goodluck Jonathan is pictured as he takes office in Abuja, 10 Feb 2010
    Nigeeria's new acting president and commander in chief Goodluck Jonathan is pictured as he takes office in Abuja, 10 Feb 2010

    Mr. Jonathan's assumption of power has some northern leaders concerned that this southern acting president will disrupt the country's political balance by replacing a northern president when the country's informal power sharing arrangement allows the north another four-year term.

    Senate President David Mark says Mr. Jonathan is only the acting president. No one has replaced President Yar'Adua.

    "That is not the thing. We don't want people to spread that rumor. He remains the president. But since he is not here, there is somebody who is officially designated to act for him. I know that this type of rumor gains ground easily," said Mark.

    Mr. Jonathan says he wants to avoid further division and hopes the president recovers.

    "In all this, there are no winners and no losers because, by the grace of God, we have once again succeeded in moving our country forward. We have all shown that our unity as a people, our love for this country, and our hope for its great future can not be shaken," said the acting president.  "It is now time for us to move on in a more determined manner to tackle the various challenges which we face as a nation," he urged.

    Anything Mr. Jonathan does may be open to legal challenge. Nigeria's constitution specifies that lawmakers may promote the vice president to acting president based on written communication from the president.  But Mr. Jonathan's appointment was based on a radio interview in which President Yar'Adua confirmed he is in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.

    Former Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Farouk Aliyu, has brought suit asking the Federal High Court to issue an injunction invalidating Mr. Jonathan's appointment.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.