Nigeria president declares election bid on Facebook

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday declared his intention to run in January elections on social networking site Facebook, in an apparent bid to divert attention from a rally being held by a key rival.

A statement appeared on Jonathan’s Facebook page announcing his intention to run as thousands of people convened in a square in the capital, Abuja, for the campaign launch of his rival, former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida.

“Today I confirm that after wide and thorough consultations … I Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the grace of God hereby offer myself and my services to the Nigerian people as a candidate for the office of President in the forthcoming 2011 elections,” the statement on Jonathan’s Facebook page said.

It said he would make a formal declaration in the capital, Abuja, on Saturday on his intention to run for the leadership of Africa’s most populous nation.

Presidency officials could not be reached for comment.


Jonathan’s election bid is controversial because of an agreement in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that power should rotate between the mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

Jonathan, who is from the Niger Delta in the south, inherited the presidency when late northern president, Umaru Yar’Adua, died earlier this year during his first term, and some powerbrokers within the PDP say the next leader must be a northerner.

The Facebook statement said Jonathan had decided to run after consultations with the country’s six geo-political zones, the ruling party, the opposition, civil society, labour unions and religious leaders.

Criticism
Buba Galadima, an aide to former military ruler and potential opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, criticised Jonathan’s plans to contest.

“It is an act of bad faith, the articles in the PDP constitution clearly stipulated zoning for political positions. For the president to have jettisoned that is an act of bad faith, which means as a leader he cannot be trusted,” he said.

Jonathan also faces competition from within the PDP.

Both Babangida and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar have said they will run against him for the PDP nomination and other northerners, including Kwara state governor Bukola Saraki and national security adviser Aliyu Gusau, are also expected to seek the party’s ticket.

Jonathan and his office have been officially coy on whether or not he will stand, but a recent reshuffle of the military top brass and policy announcements akin to campaign promises — from privatising the power sector to setting up a sovereign wealth fund — left few Nigerians in much doubt over his plans.

His choice of Facebook to announce his intentions was a surprise. The majority of Nigeria’s 150-million people live on $2 a day or less and have limited access to clean water and electricity, let alone the internet.

But the country has nonetheless overtaken South Africa as the continent’s top cellphone market and is estimated to have the largest online audience in Africa.

Enough Is Enough, a civil society group hoping to encourage young people to take an active role in Nigeria’s elections, estimates there are more than 1,6-million Facebook users in Nigeria. — Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Elnathan John: Our merciful Nigerian father

“They say people disappear, young men with dreadlocked hair, with tattoos, or even just carrying a laptop in a backpack,” writes Elnathan John in a reflective essay about Nigeria.

Book review: The girl with the louding voice by Abi Daré

Abi Daré’s debut novel has been described as a celebration of girls who dare to dream

‘We don’t want to be shot to death’

Nigerian protesters have taken to the streets to protest the police’s brutal special anti-robbery unit, which they say profiles tech-savvy youths

We honour the teachers who saw the potential in us

On Monday, 5 October — World Teachers Day — we recalled the teachers who helped us become the people we are today

Eastern Cape MEC sues activist for defamation

“The province’s member of the executive council for transport Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe is suing a United Front activist for Facebook posts he made that she says paint her as corrupt.”

Slam-dunk apps for basketball in Nigeria

Would-be professionals have taken to technology into their own hands to arrange fixtures and tournaments for their favourite sport
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Finance probe into the Ingonyama Trust Board goes ahead

The threat of legal action from ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya fails to halt forensic audit ordered by the land reform minister

Ailing Far East Rand hospital purchases ‘vanity’ furniture

Dr Zacharia Mathaba, who purchased the furniture, is a suspected overtime fraudster and was appointed as Gauteng hospital chief executive despite facing serious disciplinary charges

Eusebius McKaiser: Reject the dichotomy of political horrors

Senekal shows us that we must make a stand against the loud voice of the populist EFF and racist rightwingers

Seals abort pups in mass die-off

There are a number of factors — a pollutant, virus or bacteria or malnutrition — may have caused the 12 000 deaths on Namibia’s coast
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday