Newscast Media LAGOS—Since seven functionaries of the governing People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stormed out of a party convention at the end of August and set up their own party, politics in Nigeria have been in disarray.
The PDP has been in power continuously since the end of the military dictatorship in 1998. Now it appears to be falling apart and the influence of President Goodluck Jonathan is dwindling. The reason is the upcoming presidential elections in the oil-rich West African nation, due in 2015, for which major players are moving into position.
The seven rebels are, with one exception, governors of federal states in the predominantly Muslim north. Together they represent just over 20 percent of the Nigerian electorate and are, therefore, an important electoral factor for President Jonathan.
The rebels accuse the president of not sticking to the rules. Under an unwritten law, top political positions alternate every other legislature period between the mainly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south. Jonathan comes from the south. He became president in 2010 after the unexpected death of President Umar Yar’Adua, a northerner. One year later an election confirmed Jonathan in office. That means he is coming to the end of his second term, say his opponents.
But the president seems to have every intention of running again in 2015. The rebel governors want to bring pressure to bear on him to respect the traditional way of doing things, says political scientist and analyst Garba Umar Kari from the University of Abuja in the Nigerian capital.
Up to now, with more than 60 percent, Jonathan’s PDP had a comfortable majority in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. Now it has the backing of less than half of the 36 governors. This is not the first time there has been a power struggle within the PDP. But never before has one wing come out so strongly against the head of state and Jonathan’s hold on power could now be seriously at risk.
Jonathan’s critics also say he has done nothing to reduce poverty in Nigeria.
Jonathan has not yet made an official statement on whether he plans to run for a further term in office. However, observers say he is bringing his followers, most prominently party chairman Tukur, into position. This is seen as a clear indication that he does intend to make a renewed bid for the presidency.
For the time being, reconciliation does not seem a likely prospect. However, much can happen between now and the elections in 2015.
Source: Deutsche Welle