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Former dictator seeks to contest in Nigerian election

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

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

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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