Monday, 20 September 2010

General Babangida President Jonathan's biggest rival for PDP nomination

President Goodluck Jonathan formally declared his intention to stand for the presidency in 2011 at a rally in Abuja on 18th September amid indications that he is ahead of rivals in the delegate count for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) convention. His biggest challenger for the PDP nomination will be the former military head of state, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB).

Jonathan made his first public declaration of his intention to contest the 2011 Presidential elections through social networking site, Facebook. He made the announcement on

Wednesday 15th September in what appeared to be an attempt to divert attention from the Babangida's formal declaration on the same day in Abuja.

Informal polling in Nigeria suggests that Jonathan is likely to secure twice as many delegates to the PDP convention as IBB. The other likely PDP challengers who have declared – former vice president Atiku Abubakar and Kwarra State governor Bukola Saraki - are expected to collect a much smaller numbers of delegates, mostly from their home areas

To secure the PDP nomination, the winning candidate must secure 51per cent of the 3483 delegates at the convention. Jonathan's main stronghold is in a broad area of the south, while Babangida's support in concentrated in the north-west.

There is now the prospect of four northerners seeking the PDP nomination – Babangida, Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki and the now former National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Lt-Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau. With no unified candidate from the northern region to oppose him President Jonathan therefore enjoys a considerable advantage.

Concern that divisions will cost 'the North' the presidency has prompted the establishment of a Northern Presidential Aspirants Committee to find a single northern candidate at October's PDP convention. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable is for the presidential election to take place on 22nd January while the gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections will be on 29th January. The PDP presidential primaries are scheduled to take place in late October.

However, a number of official sources said holding the elections in January, as initially planned, might prove difficult due to the fact that election officials are looking for ways to delay the poll so they could work on a credible voters' roll.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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