Nigerian presidential aspirants kicks off political campaigns

19:27, September 19, 2010      

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The Nigerian presidential campaigns are in full swing with the candidates across the country launching bids to contest with their election manifesto to attract voters.

Two of those believed to be major contenders in the 2011 presidential race, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and General Ibrahim Babangida, announced their plans on Wednesday.

Both the candidates lunched their campaigns at the Eagle Square, Abuja.

The Nigerian leader has opted for the social networking site, Facebook, to tell Nigerians that he has decided to run, about four months after he succeeded late President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Both men are seeking the endorsement of leaders and members of their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Their party has fixed its national convention for Oct. 23 during which a presidential candidate for the party would be selected.

According to the timetable, presidential aspirants will be screened on Oct. 14 while different appeals from aspirants will be considered on Oct. 17.

Presidential primaries are expected to be held in the six geo- political zones between Oct. 18 and Oct. 20 to elect delegates for the Oct. 23 convention.

The declarations by the two men are the two major events since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the all-important 2011 general elections.

The country is waiting with bated breath for others who have subtly or directly indicted their interest in the contest.

Those still campaigning underground or making efforts to put their campaign structure together in the PDP include national Security Adviser General Mohammed Aliyu Gusau, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki and Gombe State Governor Danjuma Goje.

Also running is female politician Sarah Jibril, who has been aspiring to rule the country since 1992.

In the other political parties, there are indications that former head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu could be the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), the country's main opposition party.

Muhammadu Buhari is seeking the office through the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) where he is the sole aspirant.

Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau and Alhaji Bashir Tofa are contenders for the All Nigeria Peoples Party's ticket. The Labor Party (LP) has selected Dele Momodu as its sole aspirant so far.

Others in the race include Pastor Kris Okotie of the Fresh Democratic Party, National Transformation Party's John Dara and Pat Utomi of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP).

President Jonathan and General Babangida, both from the ruling party, have led the way.

Factors that will determine the direction to which the wind will blow include the generation question.

Many of the contestants are old and, as Babangida has pointed out, offered themselves on the ground of age and experience.

The younger elements said the recycled leaders had failed Nigeria. They have continued to argue that, had the older generation succeeded, Nigeria would have emerged a true giant of Africa. President Jonathan hinged his bid on performance since he assumed office as president.

The incumbent leader said he has achieved more than he promised on assumption of office.

On his part, Babaginda told his supporters that he is better prepared to engage the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead of the country.

He said the rational for his involvement in politics is to lead a team of dedicated Nigerians who together could provide the courage, the focus as well as the wisdom and sacrifice to engage the necessary changes that would inspire and deliver economic prosperity.

He promised to tackle the problem of unemployment and under- employment, education, organized crime, epileptic electricity supply and collapsed infrastructure if elected.

Other sectors he promised to consolidate the agriculture, oil and gas, health, housing and transport sectors.

He said two major objectives of his economic transformation would be massive job creation that would eliminate the current level of unemployment and the provision of affordable houses for Nigerians that would liberate them from unaffordable rents.

Meanwhile, Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) has promised to ensure a level playing field for all political parties in the conduct of the 2011 general elections.

Chairman of the commission Attahiru Jega recently made the promise at a one-day consultative meeting with political party leaders.

The electoral chief said every party would be given equal opportunity to compete for support from the electorate during the polls.

According to him, there would be no big or small parties, and added that the parties did not need to express any fears because none of them would be favored.

Jega urged the 62 registered political parties to deepen their internal democracy, saying such a measure is an essential aspect of the democratic process.

Source: Xinhua


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