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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid