Magazine article New African

Is Jonathan's Good Luck about to Run Out?

Magazine article New African

Is Jonathan's Good Luck about to Run Out?

Article excerpt

Goodluck Jonathan's quiet public persona masks a political cunning. This skill can, at times, be the president's shortcoming. As James Schneider explains, these qualities could make him Nigeria's longest-serving civilian president, or the first to lose power at the ballot box.

For most of his life, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (pictured left) has indeed lived up to his name. First, he became governor of his home state, Bayelsa, without needing to stand directly for election, and then in 2010, he repeated the trick as he ascended from the vice-presidency to the presidency after his predecessor, Umaru Yar'Adua, died midway through his term. Jonathan has been blessed with good luck. But now, after five years as president of Nigeria--one finishing Yar'Adua's term, four under his own mandate--this luck may have run out.

Goodluck Jonathan's presidency is historic. He is the first Ijaw to hold his office and his rise to the presidency after Yar'Adua's death marked a positive step in the institutionalisation of the constitution. Unfortunately for Jonathan, his method of coming to power has haunted his administration.

The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) had a gentleman's agreement that the presidency would rotate between the "North" and "South" every eight years. Olusegun Obasanjo, from the South, served two terms (1999-2007) and was followed by Yar'Adua from the North. When Yar'Adua died, he had only served three years, but in accordance with the constitution, the presidency passed to his Southern vice-president, Jonathan.

Many still thought it was the North's turn, so Jonathan's decision to run for the PDP ticket for the 2011 elections angered several northern politicians. They put forward former vice-president Atiku Abubakar to challenge him in the primaries but following their defeat fell in line for the election.

However, Jonathan never won his critics around permanently and further antagonised them by consolidating his control over the PDP and his intention to run again in 2015. Several of the northern PDP figures who opposed Jonathan's candidature in 2011 crossed the floor to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013. …

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