Letter from Africa: Nigeria's bad luck party?

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C) and Vice President Namadi Sambo (R) wave the People's Democratic Party (PDP) flag on the podium at the start of Goodluck Jonathan's presidential campaign at the Lafia Township Stadium in the north central town of Lafia, Nasarawa state on 7 February 2011

In our series of letters from African journalists, Sola Odunfa in Lagos looks at how Nigeria's political elite already have their gaze firmly fixed on 2015.

Being the incumbent should, ordinarily, stand President Goodluck Jonathan in good stead in the run-up to next year's presidential election but at the moment he is not even sure of having a strong, united party behind him.

At the president's inauguration three years ago, the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP), which he heads, had a comfortable majority in both chambers of the National Assembly.

He could have any bill passed into law, notwithstanding opposition parties' views. That is no longer the situation.

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It seems the president has dumped Mr Tukur in the hope this can save the party”

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Floor-crossing by its legislators has wiped out the PDP's majority in one chamber - the House of Representatives.

Although the party retains its dominance in the other chamber - the Senate - the president cannot pass any bill into law without co-operation by opposition party members.

This is one reason why this year's federal budget is sitting unattended in the assembly.

This time last year the ruling party had 19 of the 36 state governors.

By the end of the year, five of them had formally defected to the main opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), and more may be waiting to do so.

This means that, because the governors control their legislatures, President Jonathan cannot get through any amendments to the constitution - under Nigeria's federal system, two-thirds of state parliaments must approve any such changes.

It also mean the president will have to work harder for votes in those states next year, should he run for president.

Political bombshell

This leads on to why the ruling party is now in a crisis situation.

The major cause is the president's undeclared intention to run for another term in office next year.

This is why the tenure of the party's national chairman, Bamanga Tukur, became a problem for many party leaders, who accused him of arrogance and failure to consult.

Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo reads the programme during the People's Democratic Party (PDP) party convention in Abuja on 24 March 2012 Former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not hold back in his criticism of Goodluck Jonathan last month

He has now resigned after months of pressure; his opponents, angered by his perceived support for President Jonathan's re-nomination, had been demanding his removal.

While the storm within the party was gaining momentum, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, political benefactor of Mr Jonathan and a strong influence within the party, wrote a damning letter last month cataloguing alleged personal shortcomings of the president and his style of governance.

The letter was more devastating than if it had been written by the leader of the main opposition party.

President Jonathan replied, denying all the allegations.

He said that the former president had done him "grave injustice" with the public letter.

He accused Mr Obasanjo of trying to incite the populace against him.

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It is not only raining over President Jonathan, it is like a deluge falling on him”

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His supporters within the PDP leadership and his political aides fired a barrage of denunciations against Mr Obasanjo but the resultant controversy has not helped the president.

Yet another political bombshell was delivered by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He alleged that nearly $50bn (£30bn) was unaccounted for from crude oil receipts taken by the national petroleum corporation.

Official denials followed shortly afterwards but in the end it was admitted that about $10bn was yet to be accounted for.

There was a report last week that the president directed the central bank governor to resign because his letter had been leaked, but that the governor refused, apparently calculating that it would be difficult for the president to muster the two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to sack him.

It seems the president has dumped Mr Tukur in the hope this can save the party, which has won every election since the end of military rule in 1999.

His own political future remains uncertain.

It is not only raining over President Jonathan, it is like a deluge falling on him.

He may have to draw on all the luck of his first name to sail through.

If you would like to comment on Sola Odunfa's column, please do so below.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Goodluck Jonathan should change his name to Badluck Jonathan because Boko Haram terrorist attacks have increased under his watch. Nigeria still suffer power outage. Sadly,there will be no Rain or Harmattan Uprising anytime soon by Nigerians demanding better governance, and better management of the country's resources, like the Spring Uprising the world saw in North Africa a couple years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Nigeria needs a transformational leader, someone of the mold of Jerry Rawlins. The governance may be undemocratic to start with, but should be patriotic and people oriented. Not possible to have a new beginning with the rich and corrupt leaders so well entrenched and with so much power and influence amongst a mostly illiterate, ill-exposed, ethnically divided and poor citizenry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    $50bn oil money unaccounted for; PDP, EFCC, ICPC should be scrapped. What a blessed country with world class corrupt rulers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The British has done wrong to allow this country called Nigeria to gain. Independence so early. I believed the politicians who want that independence were doing so because of their personal selfish interest. It is an evidence, after independence no value has been added to the life an average Nigerian. What a shame!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Jonathan and PDP are just loads of gangs of corrupt, selfish, greed politician. Jonathan and PDP has failed Nigerian by not tackling corruption among govt officials and politicians. Since 1999 PDP has been ruling Nigeria and the dividend of democracy has not been felt in any part of the country. The only thing they add to the life of Nigerian is poverty. Enough is enough!

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    GEJ, by his greed and weakness of character, is destroying the criminal cartel that is wrecking Nigeria. This would have been such sweet music to our ears if only the imminent demise of PDP (People Deceiving People) would produce better results in the form of better organised, ideologically sound parties. The current list of opposition parties (ex-PDP rejects) are as bereft and woeful as PDP!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    As far as I can see the only things Nigeria has ever given the world is amount of control population growth and fraud. It is astonishing how such large country adds nothing whatsoever of value to mankind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Truth logic @ 8
    "The only thing Nigeria & Africa needs is education"

    There's a flip side to that.

    Many internet scams are now coming from 'educated' Africans, particularly Nigerians.

    They are very street-wise when it comes to high-tech financial transactions.

    There are other traits that lead to unpredictable actions, and these could take many generations to eliminate.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    When a country is governed by the least intelligent, the most incompetent, and the most greedy of its people, and the citizenry swim in ignorance, that country is bound to sink. The potentials for Nigeria to be the wealthiest nation in Africa, and in fact in the world, are enormous. The above stated factors have ruined the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.


    Ye ha.

    You have won the Nigerian Lottery, prize of £10,000,000.00, please send me your bank details & £500 to enable release of your prize money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Until everyone involved deals with corruption relating to Africa's minerals and resources, most countries wont take African leaders seriously enough to consider them equals on the international political stage.

    Western countries really need to force their multinational companies to treat Africa the same as the rest of the world.

    All resources should have the same value regardless of the source.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Sola has allowed himself to be drawn into the season's rash of "letter-writing". There are clear hints that he is one more of those driven by parochial demagoguery to act his part of the script written by the out-of-favor former president. the former President opened a can of worms about to consume him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    '$10bn was yet to be accounted for'. Say what you like about Nigeria, but when it comes to corruption they really are world class.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    This can only be good for Nigerian democracy in the long run. Still it's embarrassing to read

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Oh look BBC tumbleweeds


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