Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nigeria Presidential Election, 2011

OK, so a few hours I put up a post with a quick history of politics in Nigeria. A few words now about the current campaign.

Nigeria's presidential elections are scheduled for April 9, 2011.  I've had several people ask me my opinion about the election, but I hadn't been keeping up, so I did a little research and this is what I came up with:



The frontrunner seems to be Goodluck Jonathan, the current president and PDP candidate.  The PDP has held the presidency since democracy was reintroduced to Nigeria in 1999, although these each of these elections have been marred by violence and fraud. The PDP has a "gentleman's agreement" that the presidency will be rotated between the North and South.  Obasanjo, president for 1999-2007, is Yoruba, from the Southwest part of the country.  Obasanjo's vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, is a northerner (and former supporter of bad guy Sani Abacha, who imprisoned Obasanjo) that planned to succeed Obasanjo, but then clashed with him when Obasanjo tried to change the constitution for a third term.  So Obasanjo handpicked a different northerner to succeed him, and thanks to Obasanjo's support, Yar'Adua won, but then he got sick and died before he finished his term and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan (he of the cool name and cool hat) became acting president in February 2010 (when Yar'Adua was sick) and president when Yar'Adua died in May 2010. Jonathan has a PhD in zoology, entered politics in 1998, and has never been elected to office. His parents chose his name Goodluck well because his rise is due in large part to being in the right place at the right time:
When the Bayelsa state governor was arrested on money-laundering charges in 2005, Mr Jonathan, then deputy governor, found himself at the helm. On February 10th (2010, as acting president while Yar'Adua was sick), chairing his first cabinet meeting, he had the confidence to reshuffle some of the ministers known to be allies of Mr Yar’Adua.
Jonathan is from the Southeast part of the country (and, given the brim on his hat, it goes without saying that he's not Muslim), so a Southerner got to be president before the Northerners got to finish their turn. So there was speculation when he took office that he would just keep the seat warm until the end of the term, and then let a Northerner candidate run for the PDP.  There was speculation that Babangida (IBB), a Northerner, would run on top of the PDP ticket and Jonathan would run as vice president, so that the rotation could be restored to order. Babangida was a military head of state from 1985-1993.  He allowed for democratic elections to take place in 1993, but then didn't allow the winner to take office.  In response to massive strikes and protests as a result, he then gave up office to an interim government that was soon after overthrown by bad guy Sani Abacha.

In September 2010, Jonathan announced on Facebook that he would run to be the PDP candidate for president. One of his themes is the promotion of rule of law and rooting out of corruption, but it's not clear how successful he has been in these efforts. "His current campaign is centred on providing good governance, power and energy, food, education, health, land and transport, unemployment, security and the Niger-delta."

In November 2010, Atiku Abubakar was proclaimed the consensus candidate for the North for the PDP ticket (he'd returned to the party after leaving in 2006) and a poll said that he was the frontrunner in the race. Abubakar was vice-president for 8 years under Obasanjo until they had a falling out in part because of Abubakar helped block Obasanjo's attempt to change the constitution so he could run for a third term. But Abubakar was soon accused of forging that poll. 

In January 2011, although Abubakar is the more experienced candidate, Jonathan won the PDP primary with 78% of the vote. Observers attribute this to incumbency advantages, such as the ability to steer a patronage network of gas and oil revenues. Jonathan also likely benefitted from his move "to back PDP state governors seeking a second term in April."

Other candidates
  

General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) (Congress for Progressive Change) A native of Katsina State (in the north), Muslim, born in 1942, Buhari was 7th head of state of Nigeria (1983 – 1985). Buhari was the candidate for another party (ANPP) in 2003 and 2007, but had a falling out with party leaders of that party, and joined the CPC in 2010. Buhari had a fairly successful anti-corruption program while he was head of state.  He and Nelson Mandela were the only private African individuals to be invited by the White House to attend Obama's inauguration. In 2003 he came in 2nd place, with 32% of the vote, and also came in 2nd place in 2007 but with fewer votes. His campaign promises are virtually indistinguishable from Jonathan's: "General Buhari’s current campaign is centred on providing good governance, economic recovery and infrastructure development, power and energy, agriculture, education, health, land and transport, women empowerment, security and the Niger-delta and unemployment." Buhari is probably frontrunner Jonathan's greatest challenge.


Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (Action Congress of Nigeria).  The Action Congress candidate in 2007, Abubakar (see above), came in 3rd place in 2007. Action Congress also came in 3rd in legislative elections (after the PDP and ANPP).  According to some observers, PDP supporters are abandoning the PDP for the ACN because the ACN is the main alternative party. Ribadu is a former anti-corruption official (2003-2007) and has been a senior fellow at Oxford and at the Center for Global Development, which is a very well respected research organization - they are fantastic.  One of the first places I go for studies on aid, international development, etc. So I like this guy based on that association alone. He was very successful in his anti-corruption campaign, although some say it was a tool Obasanjo used against his political enemies.  "His campaign goals include the plan to invest in coal (utilizing existing national coal reserves), wind, solar and biomass as alternative means of power generation, create 30 million jobs, achieve a real GDP annual growth of 8% within 5 years and 10% in 10 years, and reduce fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP. " Similar to his competitors, "Nuhu Ribadu’s political campaign is premised on developing human capital and infrastructure, growing the economy, good governance, youth employment, food and agriculture, foreign policy, security, defence and the Niger Delta."

Chief Dele Momodu (National Conscience Party).  NCP presidential candidates were also-rans in 2003 and 2007.



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