Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan receives important northern endorsement(Read article summary)
Nigeria's incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan received an endorsement from a prominent northern politician that could be critical for the southern-born candidate in the April 9 presidential election.
Nigeriaâ€™s presidential elections are less than a month away. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner, continues to pursue outreach toward the north. Jonathan, whose candidacy undermines a north-south power-sharing agreement in the eyes of some northerners, has campaigned heavily in Nigeriaâ€™s â€śMiddle Beltâ€ť and has promised economic development in the â€śCore North.â€ť Now, he has secured the endorsement of a prominent northern politician, former President Shehu Shagari.
Nigeria has a number of living former heads of state, some of whom remain active politicians (Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo) and some of whom do not (Yakubu Gowon, Shehu Shagari). Securing the support of active politicians will be important to Jonathanâ€™s campaign, but Shagariâ€™s backing lends the gravitas of an older Northern statesman to the younger Southernerâ€™s presidential bid:
Mr Shagari, who received Mr Jonathan in his home in Sokoto yesterday, said he was happy that as politicians like him become old, young ones like Mr Jonathan have emerged to take up the task of leading the country. He spoke of the need to allow younger Nigerians like Mr Jonathan to take over the leadership of the country from the older ones.
â€śIâ€™m getting old and I donâ€™t think I can join any political party for active politicking now, but Iâ€™m happy that you (Jonathan) have emerged to undertake the onerous task of leading this country.
I believe you will succeed, having worked so hard,â€ť he said.
The former president said even before the nationâ€™s independence in 1960, when the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) was looking for an alliance with the Southern region, it was the politicians from the Niger Delta that volunteered to form a coalition with the party.
By invoking historical alliances between the Niger Delta (in Nigeriaâ€™s â€śSouth Southâ€ť zone) and the â€śCore North,â€ť Shagari has given northern voters a reason to believe that Jonathan will represent their interests even though he is not a northerner. We will see what effect Shagariâ€™s endorsement has in the remaining weeks of the campaign.