News / Africa

    Threats, Violence Compound Nigeria's Leadership Crisis

    Since his election, Umaru Yar'Adua's presidency has been marked by his long absences due to poor health
    Since his election, Umaru Yar'Adua's presidency has been marked by his long absences due to poor health
    Nico Colombant

    Pressure is mounting on ailing Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua to hand over power or quickly return to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia, where he has been getting medical care for more than two months.  The uncertainty about Nigeria's leadership comes as violence has reignited in the oil-rich south, and as the leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb offered training and weapons to Nigerian Muslims. 

    J. Peter Pham,  the director of the Africa project at the U.S. based National Committee on American Foreign Policy, recently wrote an online article called "The Sick Man of Africa."

    Writing in the "National Interest," Pham says Nigeria's leadership vacuum comes at the wrong time, especially in the wake of the failed December 25th U.S. airline bombing for which a young Nigerian was charged.

    "If Nigeria is going to be a partner with the United States and other countries in fighting extremism and these types of things, it needs leadership at the top and whenever there is not firm direction all sorts of interests creep out," said Pham.

    Monday, compounding these concerns, the leader of al-Qaida's North Africa branch posted a statement on the Internet saying he was ready to help Muslims in central Nigeria.  The statement comes amid renewed sectarian and religious violence which has left hundreds of people dead in recent weeks.

    Meanwhile, in the oil-rich south, there was a sabotage attack Saturday against oil pipelines.  The attack follows months of relative calm.  Militants recently called off a unilateral ceasefire with government forces, saying Mr. Yar'Adua's administration is not honoring promises to help local communities.

    President Yar'Adua went to a hospital in Saudi Arabia in late November, with reported heart and kidney problems, and has not been seen in public since. In mid-January, the 58-year-old Yar'Adua, who was previously a discreet governor from the northern Katsina state, said he was doing better.

    The ruling party said in late January he had been released from a hospital in Saudi Arabia, but he has yet to return to Nigeria.

    J. Peter Pham says he is very concerned about the potential for more instability in the oil-rich south during his continued absence.

    "Certainly, renewed violence in the Niger Delta would cut Nigeria's oil production which affects the global economy at a time when we do not need any further shocks in the global economy.," he said. "[Nigeria's] production has been cut by as much as a third during periods of peak violence."

    Pham also says with Mr. Yar'Adua failing to delegate power to someone else while outside Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation has been missed as a regional heavyweight.

    "We have increasing piracy underreported in the Gulf of Guinea that requires serious committed action, but Nigeria which is the regional power is not able to act because there is no political leadership at the top," said Pham.

    Pham also says Nigeria has not been able to help much with the instability in Guinea, following an attack on the military ruler there.

    There have been several attempts through Nigeria's judicial system to make Mr. Yar'Adua give up power, but Nigerian courts have repeatedly ruled he does not need to formally transfer power to his Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan.  More appeals are being considered.

    There have also been protests for Mr. Yar'Adua to step down, as well as a letter from a group calling itself the Eminent Elders which asked the vice president to be named acting president.

    Political science professor at the City University of New York, Nigerian-American Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, has been encouraged by attempts to make the leadership issue more transparent, and in line with Nigeria's constitution.

    "I do not think Nigeria is leaderless," said Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome. "I think there is a constitutional issue and I am glad that people are trying to pursue this in the constitutional manner. In terms of the practice of democracy, I think it will be advised for Nigerian politicians to be more attentive to the provisions of the constitution and to also demonstrate through their actions that they are committed to democracy and the proper practice of it."

    One concern has been the assumed traditional rotation between northerners and southerners in Nigeria's highest office since the return to civilian rule in the 1990s.  The vice-president is a southerner, but Pham does not see this an obstacle.  He says he could appoint a northerner as vice president until general elections are held, scheduled for 2011, which he says are also of concern.

    "We need to be supportive and reaffirm Nigeria's need to get on with its business and the fact that it is missed on the international stage and that Nigeria needs to seriously work, beginning now on the election,' he said. "Last time, I think everyone acknowledges that President Yar'Adua was elected in elections which fraudulent probably does not begin to describe the level of voter intimidation, corruption and other things that occurred during that election."

    Goodluck Jonathan who was the ruling party's surprise selection as Mr. Yar'Adua's running mate in the 2007 vote, said last week his boss would soon return to Nigeria.  But he did not give a date.
     

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora