News / Africa

Nigeria’s Presidential Candidates Include Charismatic Incumbent, Anti-Corruption Reformers

Over the next two weeks, Nigerians elected politicians will cope with several issues affecting the country, including corruption, joblessness and poor social services.

Multimedia

Audio
William Eagle

There are nearly two dozen presidential candidates for Nigeria’s highest office, the presidency in elections to be held Saturday. But opinion polls indicate that four of them have the greatest chance of winning. They are incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who is from Nigeria’s southern Delta region, and three from the north: former general Muhammadu Buhari, Kano State governor Ibrahim Shekarau, and well-known anti-corruption activist, Nuhu Ribadu. Voters will determine which of the four they think can best handle the country’s problems, which include corruption, unemployment and erratic energy supplies.

President Goodluck Jonathan is popular in many parts of the country. In 2007, Jonathan, the former governor of Bayelsa state, ran as the vice presidential candidate on the ticket of the ruling People’s Democratic Party. He and presidential candidate Umaru Yar’Adua won, and Jonathan took power nine months ago after the president died.

Jonathan has promised that as head of state, he will end discrimination against minorities in government. He’s also introduced ambitious programs to develop the country’s gas reserves and privatize the long-stagnant state-run energy company. According to Reuters, he says that effort will help strengthen Nigeria’s petrochemical and fertilizer industry and will also create up to half a million jobs.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan

Abimbola Olakunle, a political analyst and columnist for The Nation newspaper in Lagos, offers his view of the president.

"Jonathan is first presidential candidate in Nigeria to have a PhD," says Olakunle, "but for a PhD holder,  he seems to lack clinical appraisal of policy, leaving many to think that he lacks rigor in thinking and proper analysis and grasp of issues. He just might be swayed by emotions and passions. But he doesn’t have the arrogance of those who have come before him."

Empowering the powerless

Emmanuel Iffer, a former news editor with the Leadership newspaper, says others, especially from Nigeria’s smaller ethnic groups, feel empowered by Jonathan, who comes from a family of canoe makers from the minority Ijaw group in the country's Niger Delta region.

"[For] the vast majority of minorities in the south or the north central part of the country," says Iffer, "the Jonathan presidency gives hope to every Nigerian no matter [how small the ethnic group}. Some people are saying ‘if this man is from this area and becomes president, it helps me. It gives me hope I or my child could also tomorrow be anything in the country.’"

Anti-corruption credentials

Close behind Jonathan in opinion polls is retired general Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change. Buhari briefly led Nigeria as a military ruler in the early 1980’s.

Iffer says many remember him for his strong stand against corruption and for his other experience on the national level.

Muhammadu Buhari, former military ruler and Presidential candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), enjoys strong anti-corruption credentials.
Muhammadu Buhari, former military ruler and Presidential candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), enjoys strong anti-corruption credentials.

"He’s been governor (of North-Eastern State), a minister for petroleum, a head of state, and also the chair of the (development agency) The Petroleum Trust Fund," says Iffer. "A lot of Nigerians believe he has credibility. This is his strength. His weakness is the perception that he is pro-Islam and anti-Christian."

Many say Buhari has effectively dealt with the issue. He’s one of several presidential candidates who are working to attract more voters – by choosing running mates from different geographical areas or with different religious backgrounds.

Balancing the tickets

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani is the executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center in Abuja.

"One of the smartest [things] Buhari has done," says Rafsanjani, "was to get a [Christian televangelist] pastor [Tunde Bakare] to be his running mate. Before Buhari chose his vice president, it had been a campaign issue for the ruling party to [portray] him as a religious person [and an extremist], but by picking the pastor, he neutralized the issue. Most people now are not voting on basis of Muslim-Christian, but are looking into other variables."

Tough on graft

Sometimes compared to General Buhari is anti-corruption activist Nuhu Ribadu. As the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and former policeman, Ribadu took action against powerful governors suspected of graft and other forms of malfeasance.

Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim of the Center for Democracy and Development in Abuja says although Ribadu has never run for elected office, he nevertheless remains influential as a candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, or CAN.

People wait to be registered at a polling station at Oyeleye in Ibadan, Nigeria.
People wait to be registered at a polling station at Oyeleye in Ibadan, Nigeria.

"His advantage," explains Ibrahim,"is he is contesting for a party that has done quite well in the (recent legislative elections). The assumption is he’ll be able to gather the ACN votes which cover the southwest zone. (where the ACN routed the PDP incumbents). But in terms of numbers, he will not be able to get as many votes as Buhari would."

Eloquent speaker, able administrator

Rounding out the top four candidates is Ibrahim Shekarau, a two-term governor of Kano State and candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. Nigeria’s Leadership newspaper says “many consider his tenure as one of the longest periods of (inter-ethnic) peace in the state.” He is also credited with improving the state infrastructure, including the building of new roads and water treatment plants.

Democracy activist Jibrin Ibrahim says many viewers were impressed during televised debates between Shekarau, Buhari and Ribadu in mid-March.

"He was able to do a good critique of the inadequacies of the [ruling] PDP administration," says Ibrahim. "He was also quite eloquent and able to put his arguments together in a way that people found convincing. [However], I don’t think he stands much of a chance because in his own geopolitical zone [the north] he is overshadowed by Buhari, who is more popular and charismatic."

Unless any of these candidates drop out of the race this week, they are expected to be on next Saturday’s ballot.

The winner must have a majority of the popular vote, including in 24 of the country’s 36 states, plus the Federal Capital Territory, the city of Abuja.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid