John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Campaign Posters for Nigeria’s President Jonathan

by John Campbell
January 7, 2013

An armed police officer in riot gear stands guard in front of a poster of Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in Otuoke 16/04/2011. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) An armed police officer in riot gear stands guard in front of a poster of Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in Otuoke 16/04/2011. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigeria’s presidential elections are over two years away. Elite politics are already focusing in on them, however.  Opposition parties are negotiating a possible united front against President Goodluck Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while the president’s intentions remain the stuff of political gossip.  Up to now, Jonathan has refused to say whether he will run in 2015.

On New Year’s Day 2013, however, campaign posters supporting a second term for Jonathan mysteriously appeared in many prominent places around Abuja. The president has denied any knowledge of them and reiterated his refusal to declare whether he will run again. His spokesmen are saying the posters are the work of those who want to embarrass the president. The Nigerian newspaper Leadership “gathered that the president is seriously upset with the development because he felt it was a ploy by mischief makers to make it look as if it was another shocker from the presidency, just the way the fuel subsidy episode emerged in January 2012.”

Opposition figures, however, are saying that the posters are designed to “draft” the president into running. Some of them are taking the poster episode as a hook to criticize the president.

Jonathan supporters are calling on the security services to launch an investigation.

Two, contrary hypotheses suggested themselves. One is that Jonathan’s supporters were, indeed, trying to press the president to run and building support for him. Another is that it was a deliberate effort to embarrass the president.  Jonathan’s opponents appear to support the first, while his allies support the second.

Nigerians are politically outspoken and freedom of speech is usually respected.  So why is this a tempest in a teapot? At least part of the answer may be the power any incumbent president has to shape the Nigerian political agenda, and the virtual certainty that he will be re-elected if he chooses to run again. But, Jonathan is widely unpopular in many circles, and may wish to announce his candidacy (which as of now I think is virtually assured) at an optimal time of his own choosing.

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  • Posted by Justice Meshach

    There goes Mr. Jonathan and his handlers with their trickery and sneaking around again.
    The same story in 2010, when he played the cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game to his advantage, playing the reluctant hero, the martyr-messiah!
    With aforeknowledge of his original intentions (to be Mr. President for as long as he can) he deliberately kept everyone guessing, allowing himself to be ‘begged’, ‘cajolled’, ‘threatened’, ‘pressurised’ into doing what he wanted to do all along! What a snake!
    We are onto you, Mr. President, so whether you declare your intentions now or at the eleventh hour, Nigerians are ready and poised to not let themselves be led on another aimless, rudderless trip down no-where in particular!

  • Posted by Moses Nnaji

    President Jonathan has the inalienable right to offer himself for re-election to the office of the president of Nigeria in 2015.But I plead with him not to use this right. Though majority of Nigerians as of today are dissatisfied with his performance in office so far, I however want to encourage him to brace up and give us purposeful leadership. He can do it, and all he needs to do it are at his beck and call. I advise him to channel all the enormous powers of his office to fight corruption and insecurity, and once he succeeds in these two battles, every other things will fall in line. I also advise him not to dialogue with boko haram as being canvassed by some people. The militants in the Niger Delta fought for justice; but what kind of justice are members of boko haram fighting for by killing innocent people in the churches, streets, markets, etc? To negotiate with boko haram means that the government should also be ready to negotiate with armed robbers and kidnappers.

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