Sunday, May 22, 2011

NIGERIA - Goodluck Jonathan at the trial by fire

We, Nigerians have reached a welcome step, though few are noticing. We held four elections on a regular basis and transmitted power at three different presidents without any military pressure. We still can not count our votes correctly, but nobody is perfect. If our democracy is still shaky and our ruling elites unable to differentiate between public and private objectives, we consider these first steps as a sign that we will eventually get there.

Goodluck Jonathan, who has collected nearly 60% of the vote, convinced at least a majority of the population and foreign observers that his victory was legitimate. It is however faced with a problem: the lack of support from the north. Solving this problem will determine the ability of Nigeria to become the political and economic heart of Africa, as its size and resources suggest.

Goodluck Jonathan's victory relies almost entirely on the support of the South, mostly Christian and economically dominant. Voters in North, mostly Muslim, poor and increasingly isolated, have mostly supported Muhammadu Buhari, his opponent, former military junta leader, a leader taciturn and somewhat ascetic.

Management implied power conferred by its share of votes will be as important as tact with Goodluck Jonathan will have to demonstrate to defuse an explosive situation. He can not govern effectively against the active opposition of Muhammadu Buhari and movement of talakawa [ordinary people].

On 18 April, shortly after the official announcement of the victory of Goodluck, crowds made up mostly of young and unemployed people are engaging in violence in northern Uganda. The rioters attacked the symbols of authority, community leaders, religious leaders and traditional. Their fury was also hit those who are considered "non-native," Christians and people from the South and other regions.

The uprising, crushed by the army, made over a hundred dead. A climate of fear has descended on the region. In several cities, now placed under curfew, residents cowering in their homes in fear. The very future of the country - Nigeria will remain there or unified fracture revealed elections worsen she? - Depend on the talents of leadership which will show Goodluck Jonathan in the days and weeks to come.

The first president of Nigeria does not belong to one of three major ethnic groups in the country - it is an Ijaw from the Niger Delta - is perhaps the right man to face future challenges. However, it is surrounded by a small team and is accountable to those who supported his campaign financially, notoriously expensive.

Goodluck Jonathan will be responsible for immediate, with the help of Washington and London scenes, to find a way to calm Buhari. He will then, what will be more difficult to redefine the economic underpinnings of the country to better redistribute wealth in many poor. Nigeria has natural resources to enable it to secure its future.

Remains whether the President Goodluck has the courage, cunning and clarity of mind to use them. These qualities will be needed to reduce the serious inequalities that guarantee a small elite controlling most of the country's wealth.

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