Former dictator seeks to contest in Nigerian election
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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 18:08
Abuja: Former Nigerian military dictator General Ibrahim Babangida has decided to run in the Presidential election due next year, nearly two decades after he controversially overturned a ballot widely regarded as fair.

Babangida, a Muslim from the north who held power for eight years, announced his intention to seek the ruling party's nomination for the president's post.

"Given my wealth of experience and decades of leadership study, plus the urgent need to confront the challenges of our national lives, I believe the time is ripe for me to serve our people as a civilian president," he said in a statement which analyst believe is alluding to the president's relative inexperience in leadership.

Babangida, 68, becomes the second Muslim from the country's north to seek the ruling party's nomination for the election, which could occur as early as January, though a date has not yet been set.

Yesterday, former vice president Atiku Abubakar also said he will seek the nomination of the People's Democratic Party.

The two want to vie under the platform of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) despite speculation that President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south may soon signify his intention to join the race.

The move may complicate attempts by Jonathan to extend his term, having taken over as acting president in February during the illness of the then president, Umaru Yar'Adua, who died in May.

According to an unwritten understanding within ruling PDP, power should rotate between Nigeria's Christian south and Muslim north every two terms. Yar'Adua, a northerner, died during his first term, so the next term should be reserved for a northerner.

Now the party has been divided over whether to abandon incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-rich Niger Delta in the south, in favour of a northerner.

Babangida ruled Nigeria from 1985 to 1993 and survived two attempts to overthrow his government through coups.

He later organised an election for transition to civil rule but annulled it.

In the statement, he sought for forgiveness for the annulment and denied killing a popular journalist ele Giwa who was assassinated with a letter bomb during his tenure.

He was also accused of embezzling an oil windfall of USD 12 billion which Nigeria got from sales during the Gulf war. He denied any corruption allegation in his statement.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, returned to democracy in 1999 after several years of military rule and has been trying to maintain a steady government since then.


First Published: Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 18:08

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