Riot in North Over Jonathan’s win

Backlash over Nigerian leader’s presidential run By Aminu Abubakar (AFP) – 5 hours ago KANO, Nigeria — Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’ s primary victory has led to protests and anger in parts of the country’s mainly Muslim north, the first signs of a backlash to his controversial nomination. Jonathan, a southern Christian, easily won the Peoples Democratic Party primary vote last week, but his candidacy remains controversial because some argue a northern candidate should have been given the nomination. Hundreds of Muslim youths poured into the streets of the northern cities of Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina and Hadejia at the weekend in protest, burning PDP flags and membership cards, witnesses told AFP. On Sunday, the PDP campaign headquarters in the northern city of Sokoto burned, but the cause was unclear, local radio reported. In Katsina, the home state of Jonathan?s predecessor, the late Umaru Yar?Adua, fiery sermons were delivered in mosques during Friday prayers urging Muslims not to vote for PDP candidates, local media reported. Mass text messages on mobile phones have also been sent condemning northern state governors as “the enemies of the north and Islam” for supporting Jonathan instead of Atiku Abubakar, who challenged the president for the nomination. The controversy stems from an arrangement within the PDP that says its candidates should be rotated between the mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south every eight years — called “zoning.” Jonathan became president in May after the death of Yar’Adua, who had not finished his first term, leading some to argue another northerner should take his place. The party has won every presidential vote since Africa’ s most populous nation returned to civilian rule in 1999 , making the PDP nominee the obvious favourite in the April 9 election. “We have resolved to renounce our membership of the PDP for the injustice meted on the north over the zoning arrangement and have started consultation on which of the northern candidates to vote for in the presidential election,” said Ahmad Yazid Rafindadi, who led the protest in Katsina. All three major opposition parties have nominated northern Muslim candidates. Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, running under the Congress for Progressive Change banner, is particularly seen as a potential threat to Jonathan if he forms an alliance with another influential party. But despite the bluster, the extent of northern discontent with Jonathan remains difficult to gauge. It was unclear whether the protests resulted from politicians co-opting youth gangs and sending them into the streets, as has been done in the past. “There is strong public anger against northern PDP governors for going against the popular will of their people in supporting Jonathan in the primaries,” said Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed, a political science professor at the northern Ahmadu Bello University. “Certain political forces are no doubt exploiting this public disenchantment, especially the religious aspect of it.” Some had also predicted that Jonathan’s primary run would result in violence and that Abubakar, an ex-vice president, would be a strong challenger. In the end, Jonathan handily defeated Abubakar. There has been an upsurge in violence in recent weeks, including bomb attacks in the capital Abuja and the central city of Jos, but it is unclear whether it is directly linked to Jonathan’s run. “The whipping of religious sentiment in the north against ,  President Goodluck Jonathan is a dangerous development to the sustenance of democracy and national peace and stability,” said Shehu Sani of the northern Civil Rights Congress organisation. “It is equally true that politicians and Christian clerics in the south are also using religion to promote and rally support for Jonathan against northern candidates.” The Northern Elders Assembly, which challenged Jonathan’s candidacy in court, blames northern PDP delegates who supported the president. “The delegates should have thought that the choice of President Jonathan would provoke religious sentiment, which is very dangerous,” Tanko Yakasai, a spokesman for the group, told AFP. Source: article/ALeqM5giPnIT3W2sDLKNMnwV2FkLaWUPlw? docId=CNG.3979b9cd43236654729450c12c6fab04.2f1

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Samuel Adeniyi

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