Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A stealth campaign

President Goodluck Jonathan has not announced his candidacy, but there are people campaigning for him.

Election pressure mounts for quiet leader
While Nigeria's president remains silent on whether he'll seek the oil-rich nation's highest office in upcoming elections, the campaign has all but begun on the Internet.

A new website once linked from a Nigerian government page purportedly advertises President Goodluck Jonathan's 2011 election bid, complete with a biography and a campaign platform. [The link to "Rethink Nigeria" was removed late Friday night from the government website without explanation.] A Facebook page for the leader has more than 168,000 fans and there's a nascent Twitter feed in his name.

Even though an unofficial choreographed campaign has begun in Africa's most populous nation, Jonathan -- a Christian from Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta -- still must win the support of the nation's northern Muslim elite before he officially declares his candidacy…

Meanwhile, shadowy support groups have plastered posters supporting a Jonathan presidential run in the nation's capital of Abuja and around the commercial megacity of Lagos. A Facebook page purportedly bearing daily messages from the president draws thousands of comments…

Former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, both Muslims, have already said they will run in the primary for the ruling People's Democratic Party.

An unwritten party agreement calls for the presidency to alternate between the predominantly Muslim north and Christian south -- a balancing act aimed at placating the two dominant religions in the country of 150 million people. Party leaders anticipated Yar'Adua, a Muslim, holding office for two four-year terms just like his Christian predecessor, but his death after being in office for less than one term complicates that agreement.

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