A Purported Offer of Dialogue from Boko Haram, and the Reactions of Nigeria’s Political Class

On November 1, a man calling himself Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz and claiming to speak for the Nigerian rebel sect Boko Haram held a teleconference with journalists. He stated that representatives from the group would be willing to negotiate a cease-fire with the Federal Government of Nigeria provided that certain conditions were met. The fullest version of the stated conditions that I have seen is here (h/t Carmen McCain):

[Abdulaziz] said: “To bring an end to these attacks, bombings, killings and arrests of our members in Nigeria, we have been mandated by our leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau, to appoint high members, elders and others from the North-East sub-region to dialogue with the Borno State and Federal Governments of Nigeria in a neutral state of Saudi Arabia.”

He said five members of the group  were mandated to liaise with a five-member committee of Borno elders to dialogue with the Federal Government.

The Nigerian mediators, according to him, include Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno, Buhari, Sen. Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Amb. Gaji Galtimari and Aisha Wakil and her husband.

On a neutral centre for the dialogue, Abdulaziz said: “We insist on having the dialogue in Saudi Arabia, because the Federal Government has betrayed us on two different occasions… The committee members for dialogue comprise my humble self, Abu Mohammed Abdulaziz, Shiek Abu Abass, Shiek Ibrahim Yusuf, Shiek Sani Kontagora and Mamman Nur.”

The announcement has occasioned a lot of important commentary. I refer you to Amb. John Campbell‘s piece on the subject, to the quoted remarks from Mallam Shehu Sani of the Northern Civil Society Coalition, and to AFP‘s overview. For some observers, the November 2 assassination of retired General Muhammadu Shuwa in Maiduguri, an act attributed to Boko Haram but denied by the group, has cast strong doubt on the seriousness of the peace offer. At the moment I would place myself, along with Sani and others, in the skeptical camp, though matters with Boko Haram have been so fluid that it’s difficult to be certain of much.

I have three points to make about the political class’ reaction to the announcement. First, as AFP notes, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is willing to talk to the group should the offer prove genuine. Yet this willingness to negotiate does not entail wholesale acceptance of the stated terms. The Nation reports that the administration would accept Saudi Arabia as a location, but is still mulling over the other conditions and the choice of interlocutors. It also seems the administration will not release any prisoners as a precondition of talks.

Second, we find prominent political voices both supporting and opposing the idea of talks; there is no consensus. Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal, for example, favors dialogue, while Chief Solomon Lar, a former National Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, opposes the idea. If plans for dialogue did become more concrete, the debate would undoubtedly intensify.

Finally, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the party of Gen. Buhari, opposes the idea of the General’s participation in talks (h/t Chike Chukudebelu).

According to the CPC, this move is the “latest gambit in the desire of this organically corrupt PDP-led Federal Government in diverting the attention of the unsuspecting Nigerian public from the on-going massive looting of their common patrimony”, as it heaps the blame for the insurgency on the ruling party.

“The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), as a corporate entity, is the harbinger of the insecurity travails of the Nigerian People for the sole reason of ensuring perpetuity in governance” the statement alleged.

The opposition party claimed that there are three variants of Boko-Haram adding that the PDP federal government is a “political Boko Haram”.

“The original Boko-Haram that is at daggers drawn with the Nigerian authority for the extra-judicial killing of their leader; the criminal Boko-haram that is involved in all criminality for economic reasons and of course, the most lethal of all, the Political Boko-Haram-which this PDP-led Federal government represents.”

I agree with Chike’s analysis when he writes, “Buhari and CPC were wise to reject the offer, because it would ‘associate them with Boko Haram.’ At least this is the interpretation that the Christian community in the North and Southerners will buy. It would have been exploited by ambitious politicians to scuttle Buhari’s chances come 2015.” Buhari has stated that he will not run in 2015, but the chances are decent that he will change his mind about running. This editorial (leaving aside some of the author’s bold claims about Boko Haram that would be difficult, if not impossible, to verify) features some interesting reasoning about the difficult choices Buhari faces as a potential mediator, and the danger for him to be seen as power-hungry whether he accepts or refuses.

If this attempt at dialogue fails it will be, by my count, the third such failure (at least): see here and here. The idea of dialogue surfaces regularly, which makes sense given that crackdowns against Boko Haram have not so far stopped the group’s violence. But the repeated failures of dialogue point to the same structural problems that have come into play this time: a lack of trust between the government and the sect, a lack of willing mediators, and a lack of clarity regarding who really speaks for Boko Haram.

Africa News Roundup: Alleged Boko Haram Peace Talks Offer, Kismayo, Uganda and Somalia, Flooding in Niger, and More

A spokesman claiming to represent Nigeria’s Boko Haram sect has outlined conditions for peace talks with the federal government. Demands include holding the talks in Saudi Arabia and having former military ruler and presidential aspirant General Muhammadu Buhari as a mediator. Coverage from the Guardian, This Day,  Business Week, and News 24.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International released a new report, “Nigeria: Trapped in the Cycle of Violence,” on November 1, writing, “The brutal actions of Nigeria’s security forces in response to Boko Haram’s campaign of terror are making an already desperate situation even worse.”

Nigerian security forces reportedly killed thirty people in Maiduguri on Friday.

AP writes, “Weary from years of kidnappings, the inhabitants of Algeria’s rugged Kayblie mountains are finally turning against the al-Qaida fighters in their midst and helping security forces hunt them down. And that turnaround is giving Algeria its best chance yet to drive the terror network from its last Algerian stronghold.”

The BBC:

Nearly 400 people have been arrested in a major security operation in the Somali port city of Kismayo, officials there have told the BBC.

African Union troops, the Somali army and a pro-government militia gained control of the strategic port last month from al-Qaeda-aligned militants.

A militia spokesman told the BBC those arrested were believed to be supporters of the Islamist al-Shabab group.

Since al-Shabab’s withdrawal there have been frequent bombings in the city.

VOA: “Uganda is threatening to pull its troops from African peacekeeping missions, including the one in Somalia, because of a U.N. report that accuses Kampala of supporting Congolese rebels.”

IRIN on internally displaced people in Mogadishu.

Gambia has appointed its first female foreign minister, Susan Wafa-Ogoo.

Ethiopian Muslims continue their weekly Friday protests against alleged government interference in Muslim affairs.

IRIN writes that more flooding may occur in Niger.

What else is going on?

Nigeria: A Statement by General Buhari on Boko Haram, and Its Aftermath

Speaking to supporters on May 14 in Kaduna, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) made several incendiary statements, calling the Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria “the biggest Boko Haram” and saying that presidential elections of 2015 must be free and fair, warning (as the press has translated it), “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.” These statements have caused considerable uproar in the Nigerian press and major controversy among the political class. (Some say that Buhari, who spoke in Hausa, was misquoted and misinterpreted; see here for an interesting discussion of the Hausa proverb “kare jini biri jini.”)

Buhari, who was military head of state in Nigeria from 1983 to 1985, was runner-up in the last three Nigerian presidential elections. Buhari challenged the results in each case; since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has won all four presidential elections the country has held. Boko Haram, of course, is the violent movement based in Northeastern Nigeria that has carried out numerous attacks over the past two years on government and Christian targets, mostly in the Northeast but also in Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, and elsewhere.

The significance of Buhari’s statements is, for me, two-fold.

2015

First, Buhari’s remarks show that politicians are already looking to the next presidential elections in 2015. On one level, Buhari’s rhetoric is aggressive campaign rhetoric. In his remarks, he stated that he does believe there is a real movement called Boko Haram, as well as associated patterns of criminality. He implied that the FG is incapable of dealing with the insecurity, partly because in his view Federal leaders do not listen to Northerners. The idea that President Goodluck Jonathan is incompetent on security issues is an extension of Buhari’s campaign rhetoric from 2011.

Calling the FG itself “the biggest Boko Haram,” meanwhile, is a provocative political move, one that aims to redirect attention from the violence in the North to the violence and theft allegedly perpetrated by the FG. This accusation plays directly into Buhari’s image, among his primarily Northern supporters (see a map of the 2011 election results here),  as a tough leader who would end legal and financial abuses within the FG.

Buhari said after 2011 that he wouldn’t run again, but now it seems he may be changing his mind; some observers expect Jonathan not to run, but he may do so as well. If the 2015 election is a rematch between Jonathan and Buhari, then it looks like Buhari may already be firing the opening shots.

The administration has already fired back. Playing into Buhari’s image among many of his opponents as a partisan of Northern Muslims, an administration spokesman decried the General’s comments:

We find it very sad that an elder statesman who once presided over the entirety of Nigeria can reduce himself to a regional leader who speaks for only a part of Nigeria. We now understand what his protégé and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Nasir El’Rufai, meant when he wrote in a public letter in October of 2010, telling Nigerians that Buhari remains “perpetually unelectable” and that Buhari’s  ”insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are already well-known.”

The president and Buhari are not the only politicians participating in the debate, of course. Some Northern heavyweights have defended Buhari, either by supporting him, by saying that he was misquoted, or by using the remarks to call for electoral reform. Other Northern groups, though, have condemned the remarks.

What do we make of Buhari’s invocation of violence? 2011 has the image, internationally, of having been Nigeria’s “cleanest” election since 1999, but according to Human Rights Watch it was also “among the bloodiest”: over 800 dead, and some 65,000 displaced. Much of the violence occurred in Northern states, when protests by Buhari’s supporters “degenerated into violent riots or sectarian killings.” In this context, Buhari’s suggestion that 2015 could be violent has ominous overtones.

Inter-Communal Tensions

Second, Buhari’s statements have significance in that they contribute to ongoing interreligious, inter-regional, and inter-ethnic tensions in Nigeria. Boko Haram’s uprising, and particularly the sect’s violence against Christians, has intersected with long-standing inter-communal tensions in different parts of the country such as Jos and Kaduna. As Boko Haram’s violence continues, some Christian leaders have taken tough rhetorical stances, warning of Christian “self-defense” in ways that imply the possibility of Christian reprisals against Muslims. Buhari’s statement has produced concern in places like Jos, while the Niger Delta Youth Leaders Forum has raised the issue of reprisal violence, implying that if Buhari’s words incite Northern youth to attack Southerners in the North, they will respond in kind. Several Nigerian press articles say that Buhari’s statements are “overheating” Nigeria, a powerful image. Buhari has raised the temperature further by daring Jonathan to arrest him.

As a coda, I should say that Buhari does not speak for all Northern leaders. His statements on Boko Haram exist as part of a continuum of Northern leaders’ responses to the problem, which have ranged from proposing dialogue to condemning the FG’s approach to, if some allegations are to be believed, actively supporting the movement. Looking more closely at this continuum would be worth a separate post; I will tackle that in June if the news cycle allows.

Dr. Attahiru Jega, the Symbolic Face of Nigeria’s Elections

Dr. Attahiru Jega, chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was born in 1957 in Kebbi State. In 1984 he obtained a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University, and afterwards occupied a variety of academic positions in Nigeria, most recently the vice-chancellorship at Bayero University Kano. Jega stepped into his current role with INEC last spring, and has become the main symbol of Nigeria’s elections. As with any symbol, people struggle to define what the symbol means.

In the context of Nigeria’s delayed elections, blaming or defending Jega has become a symbolic contest over the integrity of the elections themselves. For example, Northern Muslim elites I spoke with in Kano last summer frequently told me that Jega was their bellwhether for the legitimacy of the vote: if Jega resigned, they would know the elections were flawed; if he stayed, they would know the process was clean. Jega has also served to personify the work of Nigerian electoral reform for onlookers overseas: US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson recently called Jega “a person of integrity,” linking Jega’s personal reputation with the outcome of the entire electoral process.

Attaching such expectations and meanings to Jega’s actions magnifies the pressure he is under as an individual. Maggie Fick summarizes Jega’s predicament following the electoral delay:

Jega now finds himself between a rock and a hard place — if he resigns in the coming weeks (as was suggested by the Nigerian Human Rights Commission), he would be making a statement about the attempts of the political elite to discreetly undermine him, but he would forfeit the chance to attempt broader reforms within the electoral commission after the vote. Either way, the elections are coming, and it is clear that the consequences of the 2011 vote will not be inconsequential. Nigeria is a giant on the African continent: It is a diplomatic leader in regional crises from Libya to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, most recently, the Ivory Coast. And, as Africa’s largest oil and gas producer, it’s the undeniable economic motor of the region. The outcome of these elections will set the tone for a whopping 27 votes set to take place on the continent this year. No wonder the International Crisis Group recently warned that if Nigeria’s elections do not “reverse the degeneration of the franchise since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999,” the impact ill be felt locally and internationally.

There is a lot riding on these elections.

Pressure on Jega has increased – and the contest over his symbolic meaning has intensified – with recent calls from civil society groups and some opposition parties for his resignation. As rumors multiply, allegations are circulating that “powerful Nigerians” such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo have been maneuvering behind the scenes to oust Jega. Reports say that Jega nearly resigned during a “tempestuous meeting” on Saturday that pitted the INEC chairman against security officials who supposedly demanded – and were denied – a greater role in managing the elections.

Whatever the truth of such rumors, and whatever the content of Saturday’s meeting, the stories about Jega emphasize how he has become the focal point of competing claims about what is going on with the elections. The dominant view seems to portray Jega as the champion of the people against the machinations of elites, but counter-narratives are working to discredit Jega as weak, incompetent, or partisan.

The rumors and accusations have prompted public commentary by leaders from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), including President Goodluck Jonathan. Former military leader and current presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari‘s spokesman has charged that Jonathan, the PDP, and pro-PDP agents within INEC “deliberately engineered the delay and non availability of the critical materials as an act of sabotage to discredit Jega,” and alleged that Jonathan was pressuring Jega to resign. In response, Jonathan has publicly proclaimed continued support for Jega. I would guess that Jonathan understands well that if Jega leaves now, it will not only damage the credibility of the elections, but also Jonathan’s reputation.

Nigerians will return to the polls Saturday. The world will be watching. And many people, inside and outside Nigeria, will be watching Jega – pinning hopes on him, scrutinizing his words and deeds, and pointing to him as a symbol of what is right or wrong with the elections, and with Nigeria. I do not envy him that position. Whatever happens now, I compliment him for having shown considerable grace under considerable pressure.

Quick Guide to Nigeria’s Elections

Starting tomorrow, Nigeria will hold a series of three votes to choose members of the National Assembly (April 2), the president (April 9), and state governors and members of state assemblies (April 16). For Nigeria’s domestic politics and for the country’s international reputation, the integrity of the electoral process will be almost as important as the outcome itself. This post gives some basic information that will help non-specialists understand what they are seeing. For the history of elections in postcolonial Nigeria, see this timeline by Reuters.

Nigeria is home to over sixty political parties, but most commentary has focused on four parties: the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). While the PDP dominates nationally, the other three have pronounced regional bases: the ACN in the South West, the ANPP in Kano State and the North East, and the CPC in the North West and parts of the North East.

Parliamentary elections tomorrow will select members of the Senate (109 seats, three for each of Nigeria’s 36 states and one for the Federal Capital Territory) and the House of Representatives (360 seats, apportioned in the states based on population). Senators and Representatives serve four-year terms, with Representatives limited to two terms (Senators may serve more). The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) currently has a majority in both houses. The National Assembly’s website is here. I do not have a prediction, but some analysts forecast that the PDP will lose seats: Business Day examines the political map and comes to that conclusion in this article.

Presidential elections on April 9 will pit incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan against three main challengers: former anti-corruption official Nuhu Ribadu (ACN; home state: Adamawa), former military ruler General Muhammadu Buhari (CPC; home state: Kastina), and outgoing Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP; home state: Kano). If no candidate secures the requisite majority on April 9 (a majority of the votes in addition to at least one-quarter of the vote in at least two-thirds of the states), then the elections will go to a run-off. Polling, for what it is worth, has shown a lead for Jonathan. PDP leaders have expressed optimism that Jonathan will win the first round. Opposition candidates, however, hope to make major inroads into Jonathan’s share of the vote and potentially force a run-off. Here are profiles for Jonathan, Ribadu, Buhari, and Shekarau.

Gubernatorial and state elections on April 16 will determine which parties control Nigeria’s 36 states. Currently, according to what I can determine, the PDP has 26 governorships, the ACN 4, the ANPP 3, and other parties 3. The CPC, formed after the 2007 elections, does not hold state or local seats now, but the balance in the states could shift toward the opposition parties, including the CPC. That picture would accord with analysts’ predictions that Jonathan will win the presidential election but that the PDP will lose some seats nationally and in the states.

As I wrote above, the integrity of the elections will matter a great deal. The last elections, held in 2007, provoked worldwide outcry due to violence and allegations of massive fraud (more here and here). This time, world leaders, including the Obama administration, have placed pressure on Nigeria to ensure a safe and credible vote. Jonathan has entreated the entire nation to help keep the elections peaceful, and has paid special visits to religious leaders to enlist their aid in this effort. Nigerian troops are deploying to supervise the voting, a move that has been read on different sides of the political divide as either a positive measure or as a form of intimidation by the regime. Accusations of rigging are already sounding out, both from opposition parties and from the PDP. Still, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has won many voters’ trust and some international respect over the last year, and may play a strong part in minimizing problems.

I will be following the elections here and on Twitter, and there are a number of other sources you may find useful: Reuters Africa, BBC Africa, VOA Africa, 234 Next, Vanguard, and Amb. John Campbell’s blog. Let us know in the comments if you have questions, comments, predictions, or recommendations for sources.

Nigeria: Goodluck Jonathan’s Northern Campaign Concludes

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, campaigning for re-election, has stopped in each of the country’s 36 states. This national tour has included heavy emphasis on Northern Nigeria, where many elites and voters believe the presidency should return to their region as part of an informal national power rotation. For Jonathan, a Southerner, to win the April election, he will need some Northern support. That’s why he has devoted time to the “Middle Belt” or North Central Zone, emphasized themes of shared national prosperity and unity, and sought endorsements from Northern statesmen. And that’s why two of his last campaign stops were Katsina and Kano, strongholds of the Core North.

In Kano, with tight security, Jonathan addressed thousands of supporters from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Reuters analyzes the electoral calculus at work:

Securing support in this ancient Islamic city, Nigeria’s second most populous after the southern commercial hub of Lagos, will be key if Jonathan, who is from the southern Niger Delta, is to clinch victory in the first round of the April polls.

As the incumbent, Jonathan is considered the front-runner, but his main rival, Muslim ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, has strong grass roots support in many parts of the north and the opposition is hoping to force a run-off.

[…]

Much is at stake in Kano and Nigeria’s other northern cities. Jonathan must win at least 25 percent of the vote in two thirds of the states to clinch victory. The core north, along with opposition strongholds in the southwest, are seen as the most likely regions to prevent him succeeding.

In addition to boosting his own support, Jonathan’s last stops in the North seem calculated to show that Jonathan is willing to take on Buhari on the latter’s own turf.

On Tuesday Jonathan attended a rally in neighbouring Katsina, Buhari’s home state, where he was treated to a rousing welcome at the city’s main stadium.

Before that he had flown to Daura, Buhari’s hometown, where he visited the traditional chief in what is considered the oldest chiefdom in northern Nigeria and the heartland of the Hausa, the largest ethnic group in the north.

Jonathan’s “Northern outreach” is not over – around three week remain in the campaign. In his states’ tour, though, Jonathan has already systematically courted the North, from the Hausa Muslim areas of Kano and Katsina to the mixed areas in the Middle Belt. I do not expect Jonathan or the PDP to win opposition strongholds like Kano. But if Jonathan outperforms expectations in the North, he may return to office with ease, and with what the PDP will call a decisive mandate to continue in power.

Nigeria’s Presidential Candidates

After a spate of party primaries last week, Nigeria is moving into its general election. Registration has begun (accompanied by some problems), and presidential candidates are starting their campaigns in earnest. Here’s a look at some key figures:

President Goodluck Jonathan (People’s Democratic Party)

The PDP has won all three of Nigeria’s elections since the country’s 1999 democratic transition, and many observers (including me) expect Jonathan to win this year’s contest. The 53-year-old former governor of Bayelsa State, who holds a Ph.D in Zoology, was elected vice president in 2007. Following the illness and death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, who headed the ticket in 2007, Jonathan became president (acting from February-May 2010, official from May 2010-present). Jonathan did not immediately proclaim his electoral intentions upon assuming office, waiting until September to declare his candidacy. By running for re-election, Jonathan has disrupted an unofficial agreement about North-South power-sharing in Nigeria: he faces opposition within the PDP from members who believe he should withdraw in order to let a Northerner run for the second term that death denied to Yar’Adua (a Northerner). Nevertheless, Jonathan handily won the PDP primary.

General Muhammadu Buhari (Congress for Progressive Change)

Buhari, who finished second in the 2003 and 2007 elections as a candidate for the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), left the ANPP in 2010 to form his own party, the CPC. Buhari, 68, led a bloodless coup against President Shehu Shagari in 1983, and ruled Nigeria until 1985, when General Ibrahim Babangida displaced him in another palace coup. Today, Buhari enjoys substantial popularity in Northern Nigeria, but potentially lacks a national base. Having mounted legal challenges after his losses in 2003 and 2007, Buhari and many of his supporters view the electoral process with distrust. I have analyzed Buhari’s campaign rhetoric here; briefly, he has focused on themes of corruption and security. Many observers expect Buhari to be Jonathan’s strongest opposition.

Governor Ibrahim Shekarau (All Nigeria People’s Party)

The ANPP holds several governorships in Northern Nigeria, and Kano (the North’s largest city) is one of its strongholds. With Buhari’s departure, Shekarau, the governor of Kano State, has emerged as the ANPP’s candidate for 2011. Shekarau, 55, won the primary decisively, indicating he has strength within the ANPP. He served two terms as governor (and is term-limited from running again), and still commands real support in Kano. But last summer some people I spoke with said his popularity was slipping. My sense is that Buhari has stronger support across the North. The danger for Buhari and Shekarau is that they will compete for the same (Northern) votes, weakening each other without seriously threatening Jonathan.

Nuhu Ribadu (Action Congress of Nigeria)

Ribadu, 50, served from 2003 to 2007 as Executive Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and established a reputation as an anti-corruption stalwart. After his removal from office, he lived abroad and worked as a fellow at the Center for Global Development. Some expected Ribadu to return to Nigeria and work with Jonathan, but he has decided to run as the ACN’s candidate. The ACN (known as the Action Congress or AC at the time) scored around 8% of the official vote in 2007, and ran former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its candidate. Despite Ribadu’s name recognition, it does not seem that he will be a serious threat to Jonathan, and as a Northerner he could split the Northern vote further. His presence in the race may increase the significance of corruption as an issue.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Former President Ibrahim Babangida

Two other Nigerian political heavyweights are not official presidential candidates at the moment. Abubakar, 64, was President Olusegun Obasanjo’s running mate in 1999 and 2003. He challenged Yar’Adua for the presidency in 2007 and challenged Jonathan for the PDP nomination last week, but was unsuccessful in both efforts. Some speculate that following his primary loss he will mount an independent challenge for the presidency, but so far his intentions are unknown. Similarly, former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, 69, has indicated that he may leave the PDP and run for president. Nevertheless, he congratulated Jonathan for his primary victory, speaking of “our great party” and indicating that he will not depart from the party. Still, Babangida has kept observers guessing. A run by either Babangida or Abubakar could change the dynamics of the race, though probably not tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Many of Jonathan’s major challengers are Northerners, and there is a real possibility that these politicians, by competing for the same votes, will only weaken each other. Still, it’s a relatively long time until April, time enough for the upredictability and dynamism of Nigerian politics to show itself once again.

Have I missed anyone? What do you think of each candidate’s chances?