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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid