Monday, April 18, 2011

Jonathan Poised for Victory Over Buhari in Nigerian Presidential Election

By Dulue Mbachu and Elisha Bala-Gbogbo

Incumbent Goodluck Jonathan may be formally declared the winner of Nigeria’s presidential election after winning almost twice as many votes as his closet rival in Africa’s top oil-producing nation.

With results for all 36 states released, Jonathan won 22.5 million votes and won in 21 states, compared with 12.2 million for his closest rival, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who won 12 states, the electoral commission said. Opposition supporters burned down a police station and a church in the northern town of Kaduna, Shehu Sani, the head of the Civil Rights Congress, said today by phone from the city.

Jonathan, 53, has promised to target spending on infrastructure, including power and railways, in an effort to boost employment in a country where the United Nations Development Programme says more than half of the people live on less than $1 a day.

“The continuity of having Jonathan as president will be good for investors,” said Dianna Games, vice president for Africa at the Global Pacific & Partners energy consulting firm in Johannesburg. “The hope is that Jonathan does pursue reforms in key areas, especially in the power sector and the petroleum industry, which is key for the economy.”

Bonds Rise
Nigeria’s $500 million of Eurobonds due 2021 rose 0.3 percent to 103.017 cents on the dollar at 11:30 a.m. in London, the highest level since the debt was issued in January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield fell 4 basis points to 6.33 percent.

Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-rich Niger River delta region, swept most of the states in southern Nigeria, while Buhari, a 68-year-old northern Muslim, won most of his votes in the north. Africa’s most populous country, with more than 140 million people, is roughly split between a north of mostly Muslims and a largely Christian south.

Jonathan needed to win a quarter of the votes in two-thirds of the states for an outright victory. The Independent National Electoral Commission is due to make a formal declaration later today.

While there may be possible irregularities in the vote, including underage voting in the north and allegations of suspicious turnout figures in the south, “the anomalies are not sufficient to affect the results,” Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, which is monitoring the election, said by phone from Abuja yesterday.

Buhari said that Jonathan has failed to tackle poverty, corruption and violence.

Jonathan, the son of a canoe maker, earned a degree in zoology and was relatively unknown until 1999, when he became deputy governor of Bayelsa state. He assumed the office of governor when his boss, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was impeached by the state assembly after being charged in the U.K. with money laundering. In 2007, Jonathan was picked as the running mate on the People’s Democratic Party 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; Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp.; Chevron Corp. of San Ramon, California; Total SA of France; and Italy’s Eni SpA run joint ventures with the state oil company that pump more than 90 percent of the West African nation’s oil.

Oil Industry
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, INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega said on April 13.

Violence that erupted yesterday in the northern city of Gombe, where supporters for the Congress for Progressive Change protested against the outcome of the vote count in the area, led to the deaths of two people and the imposition of a night curfew, police spokesman Lawal Abdullahi said. One person died and eight were injured in an explosion at a polling center on election day 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.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dulue Mbachu in Abuja at; Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at; Andrew J. Barden at

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