Abuja: Jonathan Goodluck, the Nigerian leader who succeeded late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua last week, will contest the 2011 election for presidency, his aide has said, amid demands that he face the hustings.
Goodluck will run under the ruling Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) ticket next year, his special assistant on parliamentary relations Cairo Ojougboh said, speaking at the end of a seven-day mourning for the late president.
The statement came amid rising demands in the country that Goodluck contest the elections.
On a recent visit to the US, the President, who was then serving on acting capacity had avoided stating clearly if he would contest or not, saying the Nigerian people would have to assess his performance first.
Goodluck was serving as the acting president in the period when Yar'Adua was out of the country for treatment.
He succeeded Yar'Adua, who was from the Muslim north, after he died last week following a prolonged illness.
"Mr President is a PDP president, and he is a member of the PDP and Mr President will run under the PDP. It will not be the first time issues like this will happen. In America you all recall when Richard Nixon left office, his Vice President took over and he eventually contested," he said.
Ojougboh said his contesting and winning the presidency will deepen the peace in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where militants have been fighting to control the resources and will also serve to deepen the democracy.
"In fact, the Constitution also allows him to contest. In fact, Section 14 of the Constitution also helps him because there must be justice and equity; there is no reason for which you can ask him not to contest," the aide said.
Several posters have surfaced on the streets of the country's capital since Jonathan's assumption of office, calling on him to contest elections.
Former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida was the first to declare his intention to contest for presidency of Africa's most populous nation, but he has come under severe criticism because of his annulment of a presidential election in 1993 which he organised during his tenure.
But the former head of state has continued to build campaign structures all over Nigeria promising a return to put right certain programmes he abandoned half way.
Nigeria's 150 million population is divided evenly between Muslims and Christians and most Muslims live in the North while Christians are mostly found in the South. This necessitated an unwritten agreement between members of the ruling PDP to rotate power between the two regions but the death of Yar'Adua punctured the deal and left many unanswered questions.
These include the constitutionality of such an arrangement and what happens if a deputy from a different zone takes over from a president from another region.
Reports have said that Jonathan may shun a power-rotation agreement between the Muslim north and the Christian south whereby the presidency and other top political offices are revolved between zones.
First Published: Thursday, May 13, 2010, 15:17