See also:
» 24.02.2011 - Finally credible elections for Nigeria?
» 26.02.2010 - No more sick presidents – New bill proposes
» 09.02.2010 - Senators vote to empower VP
» 29.01.2010 - Court overturns calls for Yar'Adua's sacking
» 16.12.2009 - Yar’Adua fit to run office from hospital bed – minister
» 09.12.2009 - Nigerian police responsible for hundreds of unlawful killings
» 02.12.2009 - Nigerian elites call for resignation of President
» 27.11.2009 - Yar’Adua hospitalised for heart problem

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Politics | Society

Nigeria presidential campaign kicks off

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

© Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo/afrol News
afrol News, 7 February
- Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan today is kicking off his campaign for the 9 April presidential elections. Southerner Jonathan is challenged by three popular politicians from the Muslim north.

President Jonathan is the president that should not have been. The southerner was never elected to more than Vice-President, coming to power after President Umaru Yar'Adua died in May last year.

Therefore, he should never have been the ruling People's Democratic Party of Nigeria (PDP) candidate for the 2011 elections. It should have been a re-election campaign for President Yar'Adua; or at least another Muslim northerner, according to a north-south rotation agreement within the PDP.

Not surprisingly, the PDP was split and several Muslim northerners stood forward as the party's presidential candidate. On 13 January, President Jonathan nevertheless managed to get elected as the ruling party's candidate at a convention in Abuja.

President Jonathan had promised he would not seek re-election for a third - or was it second? - term in 2015. This assurance was the basis of compromise, assuring the party's "continued goodwill" as the President pointed out in his acceptance speech.

Already after taking office in May 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan pledged his priorities would be to fight corruption and assure a thorough electoral reform so that Nigeria finally would be able to organise credible elections. The last polls, in 2007, were marred by poor organisation, intimidation and fraud.

In his acceptance speech, President Jonathan rather emphasised on the need of the economy "to be strengthened" and security "to be improved." With th

President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience registering for the 2011 elections

© Kola Osiyemi/State House/afrol News
e emphasis of conserving earlier gains, he concluded that "Nigerians want peace and security and we are determined to provide it." Regarding corruption, the President only spoke of a "strong momentum," and electoral reforms were not mentioned.

Today is the day when President Jonathan for the first time meets Nigerian voters with his political programme for the presidency. The official kick-off of his electoral campaign is in the central Nigerian city of Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa state and close to Abuja.

There, it has been indicated, President Jonathan will emphasise on economic development and peace and security issues, assuring that the PDP would be the best ticket to create stability. The security question is pressing, as central Nigeria has seen a growth in ethnic and religious violence.

President Jonathan today is the first to start campaigning for the 9 April presidential elections. He will meet many opposing candidates, but there are three northerners crystallising as the President's main challengers.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and he is widely popular in Nigeria for his tough efforts to fight corruption during his former leadership of the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. But Nr Ribadu is also said to lack political experience and is therefore treated as an outsider.

Another major contester is Muhammadu Buharu, a former military ruler standing ca

Attahiru Jega, chairman of Nigeria's independent electoral commission

© INEC/afrol News
ndidate for the important Congress for Progress Change (CPC) party. Major-General Buhari is widely known and has a certain credibility when it comes to security issues but is also remembered as for a repressive government style.

The candidate believed to become Mr Jonathan's main challenge is Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, a former governor of Kano state, representing the old All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Twenty minor opposition parties have rallied behind Mr Shekarau's bid for the presidency.

Analysts see President Jonathan as the clear favourite in the April poll, having in mind that an incumbent President never has lost an election in Nigeria. The north-south controversy about Mr Jonathan's presidential bid however could affect this analysis, as many northerner followers of the ruling PDP could be disloyal to the candidate that should not have been a candidate.

Also, there are signs that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) this year may be preparing fairer and freer elections than is so far has done. Voter registration seems to be more thorough this year, with the INEC on Saturday announcing it was extending its period of registration to make sure nobody was lost out.

The chairman of the electoral commission, Attahiru Jega, says the INEC is making extensive preparations to assure this year's elections are going neatly. But it will be up to the ruling party whether it will repeat the voter intimidation of 2007.

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