House Has Enough Votes to Pass Budget Easing $63 Billion in Cuts
Nigerian President Jonathan Extends Election Lead Over Muslim Rival Buhari
President Goodluck Jonathan extended his lead in Nigeria’s presidential vote with about half the results released, having 9.5 million votes compared with 5.3 million for his closest rival, Muhammadu Buhari.
Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party won 11 of 17 states and Abuja, the capital, according to results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission. Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria scored 1.4 million votes, winning only southwestern Osun state.
Africa’s most populous country of more than 140 million people is roughly split between a north made up mainly of Muslims and a largely Christian south. The main challengers to Jonathan, a 53-year-old Christian from the oil-rich southern Niger River delta region, are Buhari, a Muslim 68-year-old former military ruler, and Ribadu, 50, of the Action Congress of Nigeria, the former head of the anti-graft agency.
“The election was not without problems, in particular isolated incidents of intimidation, violence and illegal voting,” Moshood Erubami, chairman of Project Swift Count, a coalition of civic groups monitoring the vote, said in an e- mailed statement today. However, “these incidents didn’t undermine the overall credibility of the process.”
To win the presidency, a candidate has to win a majority of the votes and take 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of the country’s 36 states.
While Jonathan’s party saw its majority in the Senate and House of Representatives reduced in last week’s legislative elections, it still scored well. The PDP took 45 of the 72 Senate seats declared so far and 123 of 234 seats in the lower chamber, according to the website of the electoral commission.
Fifteen of the Senate’s 109 districts and 48 of the House’s 360 constituencies will hold the vote on April 26 because of problems with the ballot papers, INEC said.
Jonathan has pledged to target spending on infrastructure, including power and railways, in a bid to boost employment in a country where more than half of the people live on less than $1 a day, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
Buhari and Ribadu have said that Jonathan has failed to tackle poverty, corruption and violence.
The son of a canoe-maker, zoology graduate Jonathan was relatively unknown until 1999 when he became deputy governor of Bayelsa state. He became governor when his boss, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was impeached by the state assembly after being charged in the U.K. with money laundering. In 2007, he was picked as the running mate on the PDP ticket and in May assumed the presidency when Umaru Yar’Adua died.
Yar’Adua started an amnesty program in the Niger River delta that calmed militant attacks after they cut 28 percent of Nigeria’s oil output between 2006 and 2009. The Hague-based Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX) of San Ramon, California, Total SA (FP) of France and Italy’s Eni SpA (ENI) run joint ventures with the state oil company that pump more than 90 percent of the West African nation’s oil.
Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, which accounts for 80 percent of government revenue, earned $59 billion last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
The competition for the spoils of office spurred a violent electoral campaign with at least 25 people killed during the legislative vote, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman Attahiru Jega said on April 13.
Polling Center Blast
One person died and eight others were injured in a blast at a polling center yesterday in the Kabala district of the northern city of Kaduna, police said.
Authorities in Nigeria’s north have blamed a group known as Boko Haram, which draws inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, for a spate of bomb attacks and killings targeting government officials and the security forces since last year.
There were more than 50 incidents of ballot-box snatching, under-age voting and voter intimidation reported from the country’s 120,000 polling stations, according to a statement from the Abuja-based Nigerian Election Situation Room, a coalition of 22 civic groups monitoring the election.
The electoral commission expressed “regret” over the arrests of some people who were observing the vote, according to an e-mailed statement. “Partisan agents” posing as observers were arrested and some legitimate monitors were rounded up at the same time by mistake, the commission said.