Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another experienced candidate

Another of the old guard of Nigerian politics has thrown his hat in the ring. Can another former military ruler become president?

Nigeria's former military leader launches challenge for presidency
Nigeria's former military leader Ibrahim Babangida has formally announced his intention to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan for the presidential nomination of the ruling party in next year's election.

Babangida, 68, first seized power in 1985 in a bloodless coup. He was forced to step down eight years later after annulling an election widely regarded as fair…

The move may complicate attempts by Jonathan to extend his term, having taken over as acting president in February during the illness of the then president, Umaru Yar'Adua, who died in May.

The presidential nomination by the ruling People's Democratic party (PDP) already promised to be controversial owing to an unwritten understanding that power should rotate between Nigeria's Christian south and Muslim north every two terms. Yar'Adua, a northerner, died during his first term, so the next term should be reserved for a northerner.

Babangida qualifies, as does the former Nigerian vice-president Atiku Abubakar, who has also declared his candidacy. Their roots could be the deciding factor for some party traditionalists…

Babangida, or IBB as he is widely known, describes himself on his campaign website as a leader whose "charisma and love of country endeared him to millions" and "a father figure for modern Nigeria". Most Nigerians have a different, less flattering, memory of his rule, however, and the first anti-IBB websites have already sprung up…

Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, a political scientist who heads the Centre for Democracy and Development, in Abuja, said… "He is associated with so many negative things, including the destruction of democracy, that he has no chance in the election… I see this as an attempt to create the conditions where he can negotiate deals to avoid being tried for corruption and other crimes."

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