Nigeria’s Jonathan says friends abandoned him after defeat

Outgoing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said Sunday that some of his friends deserted him shortly after he conceded defeat to his rival General Muhammadu Buhari in the March election.

Jonathan publicly conceded defeat to Buhari on March 31, a decision which was commended by local and foreign commentators and doused tension in the country.

“Some hard decisions have their own costs. No doubt about that. It is a very costly decision but I must be very ready to pay for it,” Jonathan said during a farewell church service in Abuja.

Jonathan’s public admission of defeat in the nail-biting election came more than six hours after he rang Buhari to concede, earning him widespread praise for statesmanship.

“If you take certain decisions, you should know that people close to you will even abandon you at some point. I tell people that more of my so-called friends will disappear.”

Many party faithful and erstwhile loyalists of Jonathan have either crossed over to Buhari’s All Progressives Congress or made harsh statements against Jonathan’s party or its leaders.

Jonathan said he was not surprised by the desertions or statements by his former loyalists, adding that former South African president Frederik de Klerk faced a similar situation when he decided to abolish minority rule in that country.

Jonathan said that de Klerk’s marriage to his wife, Marike, broke down after he took that decision.

“But that is the only decision that made South Africa to still be a global player. If by this time we still have minority rule in South africa, nobody would have been talking about South Africa in the present generation,” he said.

He said that ministers who served under him should brace themselves for “persecution” following his loss and his decision to concede defeat.

Buhari, a former military leader, is scheduled to be sworn into office on May 29.

Photo Credits : AFP

Nigeria may push back deadline for voter ID handout: INEC

Nigeria’s election body said Wednesday that it may push back the deadline for distributing voter identity cards but denied media reports that the vote itself could be postponed.

The spokesman for Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Kayode Idowu, told AFP that the body may allow voter ID cards to be handed out after the current February 8 deadline.

However he described media reports about a possible election postponement as “completely false”.

The prospect of an election delay was first raised last month by National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki, who said that INEC should look at delaying the polls because of problems in distributing voter cards.

Over the last two weeks, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has repeatedly accused the ruling party of orchestrating a campaign to delay the vote because of fears that President Goodluck Jonathan was facing defeat against rival Muhammadu Buhari.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday maintained that it was not trying to influence INEC on a postponement decision.

“The decisions to postpone or delay the elections ‎are firmly within the purview of INEC,” PDP spokesman Femi Fani Kayode said.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP or anybody else. We have said all along that we believe that it is important that every Nigerian has the voter card.

“The only thing that we can say is to urge the INEC to ensure that (distribution) is done as quickly as possible,” he told reporters.

Several state governors have declared public holidays this week, allowing people to miss work and visit local election offices to collect their cards.

INEC has registered 68.8 million voters but logistical problems have plagued distribution in several areas.

In the northeast, hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the Boko Haram conflict are facing disenfranchisement.

There are currently no plans that would allow displaced people to vote outside their home district and INEC has not yet made clear which parts of the northeast are safe enough to host polling stations.

Meanwhile, fighting in the northeast, an opposition stronghold, is raging at a relentless pace, with troops from Chad crossing onto Nigerian soil to battle the Boko Haram Islamists following a deal between the two governments.

Photo Credits : AFP