Nigeria ruling party wants northern president next

Nigeria’s ruling party wants the next president to be a northerner in line with a principle that power rotates around the country, effectively ruling Acting President Goodluck Jonathan out of elections due next year.

"The south had the presidency for eight years and it is proper to allow the north to have the presidency for eight years,"said PDP National Chairman

Although not formally set in writing, there is an agreement among senior members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that the presidency should alternate between north and south after every two presidential terms.

But Jonathan, a southerner, took over as Acting President last month while President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northerner, remains too sick to govern and Jonathan’s assertive grip on power has led some to suggest he could win support for the presidency.

Elections are due by April next year and, if the principle of rotation is maintained, the presidency should go to the north as Yar’Adua is still in his first 4-year term.

“The south had the presidency for eight years and it is proper to allow the north to have the presidency for eight years,” PDP National Chairman Vincent Ogbulafor said after a meeting with top party officials late on Tuesday.

“(Yar’Adua) is still the President, Goodluck Jonathan is still the Acting President. What we discussed has to do with 2011,” he said.

Any shift in the balance of power is deeply sensitive in Nigeria, a country of 140 million split between the Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, scores of ethnic groups and myriad other factions seeking a share of state resources.

An electoral reform bill before parliament could bring the polls forward to as soon as November, meaning the PDP will need to move fast to agree on a northern presidential candidate.

Potential northern candidates named by analysts include former National Security Adviser Aliyu Gusau, state governors including Kwara state’s Bukola Saraki and Bauchi state’s Isa Yuguda, and secretary to the government Mahmud Yayale Ahmed.

But the race is wide open.



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