Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shoring up support

Nigerian courts have given him the okay to run for reelection, and President Jonathan may be taking early steps to organize support for his campaign. He is also motivating his opposition.

The first report is from Premium Times (Abuja), the second one is from the BBC.

Nigerians Condemn Pardon for Alamieyesegha, Bulama
Nigerians have reacted angrily to the state pardon granted some convicted corrupt public officers yesterday by the National Council of State, NCS.

Those who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in separate telephone interviews said by granting them pardon, the country will never get it right in its fight against corruption.

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
Among the beneficiaries of the pardon are former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha under whom President Goodluck Jonathan served as deputy governor; former Managing director of the Bank of the North, Mohammed Bulama; former Chief of General staff, Oladipo Diya and; former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, late Shehu Musa Yar'Adua who died in prison in 1997.

Mike Ahamba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) described the pardon as "ridiculous", adding that the crusade against corruption has once again been dampened…

President of Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, Shehu Sani… faulted the NCS for extending the pardon to Mr. Alamieyeseigha and other public officers who were found to have corruptly enriched themselves while in office…

Nigeria pardons Goodluck Jonathan ally, Alamieyeseigha
Nigeria's government has pardoned a key ally of President Goodluck Jonathan who was convicted [the ally, not the president] of stealing millions of dollars.

Ex-Bayelsa state Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha had been pardoned because he had been "remorseful", presidential adviser Doyin Okupe said.

Opposition activists said the decision is a major blow to efforts to curb corruption in Nigeria…

He was first arrested in the UK in 2005 on money-laundering charges, but jumped bail.

Officials said Mr Alamieyeseigha fled the UK disguised in women's clothing, a claim he has consistently denied.

He was later arrested in Nigeria and became the first ex-governor to be convicted of corruption.

Under Nigeria's federal system, governors wield huge powers and control budgets larger than those of many neighbouring countries.

Mr Okupe told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the Council of States, a group headed by Mr Jonathan, had pardoned Mr Alamieyeseigha.

"He was tried, jailed and dispossessed of his property. He has been remorseful," Mr Okupe said.

"There's no law against the granting of pardons to any criminal."

BBC Nigeria analyst Fidelis Mbah says Mr Alamieyeseigha is now free to run for political office again, and could bolster Mr Jonathan's chances of winning another term in elections due in 2015.

Mr Alamieyeseigha remains influential in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where many people believe his trial was political, he says.

The ex-governor will be expected to rally support for Mr Jonathan in the region, where the president's support has fallen, he adds.

When Mr Alamieyeseigha was the governor of Bayelsa, Mr Jonathan was his deputy…

Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria's former anti-corruption chief and leader of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) party, said the pardon was the "the final nail" in the coffin for fighting corruption in the country, Associated Press news agency reports.

Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer, but critics say widespread corruption has meant that its wealth has not been used to improve living standards in a country where most people are poor.

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