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Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan receives important northern endorsement

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Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

(Read caption) A man walks past an election banner for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo before the start of a campaign rally in Lagos on March 1, 2011. Africa's most populous nation is due to hold presidential, parliamentary and state elections in April.

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Nigeria’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 Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” and has promised economic development in the “Core North.” 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 Jonathan’s campaign, but Shagari’s backing lends the gravitas of an older Northern statesman to the younger Southerner’s presidential bid:

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