For the fourth time since 1999, the Nigerians will have to choose a new president on 9 April 2011. What are the stakes? After the rigged elections of 2007, this is the fate of the stability of a civilian and secular government. These elections are also very much about the status of the whole country in Western Africa. While having the Ivorian situation in mind, the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan is candidate for his own succession.
The character of Goodluck Jonathan encompasses the different themes generally associated with the failure of the postcolonial state. First of all, he was born in 1957 in the Niger Delta Region which became part of the independent Biafra at the end of the 1960s. His belonging to an ethnic minority (Ijaw) stresses the importance of ethnic minorities in the political game of Nigeria, but this is not the main factor of the current Nigerian politics.
Nowadays, his region is at the centre of an economic and environmental disaster. The oil-rich Niger Delta is currently being exploited by companies such as Shell and is in the centre of a violent political turmoil for the control of the oil revenues. As Jonathan comes from this region, he is susceptible to solve the vicious circle of violence in the Niger Delta (an origin which was the main reason for his choice as vice-president in 2007).
In addition, Jonathan became vice-president of Nigeria after the rigged elections of 2007. He was on the winning ticket of Musa Yar’Adua for the People’s Democratic Party. So how did he become president while being elected as vice-president? The explanation is that Yar’Adua died last year and Jonathan became president then. The problem is that an unwritten rule specifies that there should be a Muslim president succeeding a Christian president. This is how Yar’Adua became president; despite of the massive frauds, it was the first time since independence that the power was handed from a civilian to another one. He was a Muslim from the north whereas his predecessor Obasanjo was a Christian from the south. As Jonathan is Christian, he should not be candidate to his own succession. A Muslim from the north should be the next president.
However, Jonathan was not elected president which explains why he is candidate for the next elections of 9 April 2011. He was “chosen” as the candidate by his political party, the People’s Democratic Party. Well, it’s not very hard to imagine how Jonathan convinced the delegates of his political party to endorse him for the next presidential elections. The next president of Nigeria will be called… Goodluck Jonathan.