By Paul Ndiho
May 26, 2010
The race for president of Nigeria is generating a lot coverage in the media. With his new team in place, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is facing the challenges of electoral reforms and economic development in the West African nation. At least six politicians have expressed an interest in running for president, but analysts say Mr. Jonathan could prove a favorite in the 2011 elections. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has not officially declared he will be a candidate for president in 2011, but some prominent people say he will run. Under an unwritten agreement within the ruling People’s Democratic Party, Jonathan, cannot run for the top office because he is a southerner, and the late President Yar’Adua, a northerner, did not complete his eight-year rotation. Under the agreement, Jonathan’s deputy would become the PDP presidential candidate next year. But there is fierce infighting within the party, according to Abubakar Momoh, a professor at the Lagos University.
“The sad event of the demise of the former President, nobody can help it, it is natural process, but the question is the aftermath, what happens next after him? And that is what lots of factions and tendencies in the PDP have not agreed upon. For them some are saying that the PDP in principle has zoned this post to the north for the next eight years, and therefore the next incumbent must be somebody from the north and now the situation is there are all kinds of things.”
Several seasoned politicians, including former Military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, Donald Duke, a two-term State governor for Cross River State, have joined the race for president. Analysts say that as governor, Donald Duke excelled at improving basic services, tourism, information technology, and agriculture. Recently at fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Mr. Duke said that he wanted take his abilities to the national stage.
“We’re trying to get people involved in the process now; for too long we’ve been complacent, we’ve been ambivalent to our politics; let’s get involved and change our country.”
Voice of America reporter Chinedu Offor covers Nigeria and observes that Mr. Duke achieved quite a lot through his tourism initiative and today his state is the number one holiday destination in Nigeria.
“He has done so much in turning his state into a tourist attraction. This state that had little or no oil and this is a story he told because he came in and there was no resources and said well the best thing to do is to create a place where people can come and spend money and turned his state into a destination sport where Nigerians and foreigners would come and enjoy their money and has made a success of it.
“We have perhaps one of the best landscapes anywhere in the country; we have historical sites, we have geological sites, we have great people and beauty and tremendous cultural values. So what we’ve tried to do in our state is put all of these together our sites, our culture, our history, make it a place people want to go to.”
The Governor says that during his early years in office, a large consignment of pineapple suckers was imported and given to farmers; today pineapple is harvested in commercial quantities in this state and has become an affordable fruit in virtually every home. Chinedu Offor says that looking at what he has done for his state; it’s possible for him to give President Goodluck Jonathan a run for his money.
“If he can replicate a little bit of what he has done for his state on a broader level I think that’s a good way to start in a since that you have supporting infrastructure like roads because Nigeria of course needs it, you have supporting infrastructure like power, electricity Nigeria needs it, you have supporting facilities like water people need it.
Some political analysts say that although Nigeria’s principle of rotating power is based on the PDP constitution, it is not written into Nigerian law. That means there is nothing to stop Goodluck Jonathan from running for the presidency next year, despite being a southerner.