Goodluck Jonathan to Run in Nigeria’s 2011 Elections

The incumbent president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, announced on Wednesday that he will contest the January 2011 elections.

He made the announcement on his Facebook site, saying the decision had been taken “after wide and thorough consultations”.

Mr Jonathan, a southerner, became president in February after the death of Umaru Yar’Adua.

The governing party has previously said its candidate should be a northerner.

The president’s Facebook statement said he would make a formal declaration of his intention to stand for election on Saturday.

[…]

The announcement came as one of Mr Jonathan’s main rivals for the governing People’s Democratic Party’s nomination, former military leader Gen Ibrahim Babangida, launched his campaign.

Thousands of people gathered for his rally in the capital, Abuja.

Some coverage has made ado over the Facebook announcement, saying that Jonathan’s use of the medium “send[s] a message to Nigeria’s media that he will go around them, if he thinks by speaking directly he can get a fairer deal.” I think other readings are possible, including the one that Jonathan wanted to make his move in an attention-grabbing way that would favor no particular news outlet but would attract interest from all of them.

I had expected Jonathan to run, and now I suppose I should say that I expect him to win. I may well be wrong. And I have no firm idea what the repercussions of his victory would/will be, for the PDP, for North-South relations, and for Nigeria. Jonathan has considerable talents as a politician and now has some experience governing the nation under his belt, but his personal abilities matter less, in a sense, than what he and his candidacy represent to different people. A Jonathan win would elate some and crush others, which is true of every politician certainly but may be even more pronounced in this circumstance. Those reactions, for and against, will matter almost as much as the election results.

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