News / Africa

Tensions Rise Over Divisions in Nigeria’s Ruling Party

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (file photo).Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (file photo).
x
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (file photo).
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (file photo).
Heather Murdock
Nigeria's ruling party remains deeply divided after splitting in two late last month.  And while some politicians say they can re-unite the two parties, the split is already raising tensions ahead of what could be a violent 2015 presidential contest.

Since Nigeria transitioned from military to civilian rule in 1999, every president, including current President Goodluck Jonathan, has been a member of the People’s Democratic Party, or the PDP.  And even though it is still 2013, Nigeria’s 2015 election season is already in full swing.

Late last month, seven of Nigeria’s governors declared a new PDP leadership, a move the old leadership called “self-seeking and treacherous.”  The party is now split into two groups popularly referred to as the PDP and the "new PDP."

The "new PDP" accuses the government of incompetence, corruption and of failing to stop security crises.  They demand Jonathan cancel his expected - but not announced - 2015 run for reelection. 

Muhammad Lawal Isa, chairman of the "new PDP" in Bauchi in northern Nigeria, says the local chapter was supposed to establish a game plan on Saturday, but when they showed up for the meeting they were dispersed by armed police.

At the inauguration of a new "new PDP" office last month in River State in the south, police declared the meeting criminal and took down the PDP and Nigerian flags outside the building.

Since then, leaders of both parties have been hurling insults at each other in the local press, with both sides claiming the other is trying to weaken the nation.

But some PDP members say the division is temporary and that the two parties will not be competing, but re-merging after negotiations that are set to begin October 7. 

“They have set a committee which will now draw the final agreement and then based on their demands and then the peaceful steps taken by Mr. President so that the entire dissatisfaction will be finally resolved once and for all,” says PDP spokesperson Mohammed Jalo.

Others say reconciliation is impossible because neither side will agree not to field a candidate.  Supporters of opposition parties, which recently merged into one "mega-party," say the split is a good thing, because it will also divide public opinion, giving the opposition a better chance at winning in 2015.

In his office in the Niger Delta, the heart of Jonathan’s support base, Isitoah Ozoemenea, the head of the political science department of the College of Education in Warri, says elections in Nigeria have never been fully contested because of PDP domination.

“So I am one of those persons who wishes that not only the issue will expose the rot within the system but will give the opportunity for the emergence of credible opposition,” says Ozoemenea.

But in Nigeria, elections are not just about gathering votes.  Politicians are known to hire unemployed young men to intimidate opponents, and political loyalties are often based on religion, ethnicity and Nigeria’s invisible north-south divide. 

Yusuf Arrigasiyyu, executive director of Muslim League for Accountability in Kaduna, a city in an area called the "middle belt," where more than 800 people died in post-election violence in 2011, says if the ruling party remains divided, 2015 could be worse.
 
“If they insisted that Jonathan must not contest in the next elections than I’m seeing from the threats from those people from the Niger Delta creating problems.  Therefore the grassroots starts taking sides.  And if they start taking sides I’m afraid Nigeria will be in what we don’t want,” he said.

He says the upcoming election is already mired in confusion and post election violence is expected no matter who contests.  The "new PDP," he says, may be just another divide to fuel the fighting.

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta, Ardo Hazzad from Bauchi, Ibrahima Yakubu from Kaduna, Peter Clottey from Washington, D.C.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs