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.

Start Quote

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

End Quote

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.

Start Quote

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

End Quote

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.


More on This Story

Letter from Africa

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • 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 1.

    Oh look BBC tumbleweeds

  • 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 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.


Comments 5 of 16


More Africa stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • TravelAround the world

    BBC Travel takes a look at the most striking images from the past seven days


  • A bicycle with a Copenhagen WheelClick Watch

    The wheel giving push bikes an extra boost by turning them into smart electric hybrids

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.