Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has yet to announce whether or not he intends to run for president come 2011. However, his silence has been shrouded by his initiatives and the results they have produced.
As the debate on whether the incumbent President should run for office in next year’s election continues amongst the political elite, an economic report released by the office of Nigeria’s Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga’s, a former managing editor at Goldman Sachs has given political impetus to President Jonathan.
According to Aganga, Nigeria has enjoyed a more than 7% economic growth in the first half of this year, and an expected double-digit growth by the end of 2011 or early 2012. The economic growth he says is as a result of President Jonathan’s ambitious program to build new infrastructure. And reportedly, investors from all over the world are interested in doing business in Nigeria.
“There’s no week that I don’t see two, three, four major investors from other parts of the world. Brazil, Germany even China, all these other countries. All of them bringing or wanting to come and invest in the country,” Aganga is quoted as saying.
The former Goldman Sachs official believes that President Jonathan’s plan to privatize the power sector would bring economic growth to double digits.
“If the country’s infrastructure and privatization program is successfully implemented, I expect growth of 10% by 2012,” Aganga added.
President Jonathan who worked as an education inspector, lecturer and environmental protection officer before going into politics in 1998 has never been elected to major public office in his own right.
Nonetheless, he has been credited for his negotiations with militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta, who are mostly from his native Ijaw tribe. Many of the major militant groups have laid down their weapons, others have formed uneasy truces with the government.
While many in northern Nigeria believe the unwritten agreement to rotate the office of the presidency between the predominantly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south must be maintained, Aganga’s commendation and prediction, could further create an exception to the rule.
President Jonathan, a Christian southerner, became president after his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, a Muslim northerner died less than half-way through the north’s “turn” of two presidential terms. But, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has said President Jonathan has the right to contest next year’s elections.
PDP chairman Okwesilieze Nwodo told reporters last month that: “The party believes that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as part and parcel of the joint ticket has the right to contest the presidential primaries for the 2010 elections.”
The PDP has ruled Nigeria since its return to democracy in 1999, and the country is still recovering from a history strewn with coups, corruption, ethnic and religious unrest.