Nigeria’s president expected to announce second-term bid

Nigeria goes to the polls on February 14 next year to elect a new president

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Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan was on Tuesday expected to formally declare his bid for re-election, in a widely anticipated announcement that has been trailed by his office for weeks.

The event, in central Abuja, has been billed as “the mother of all rallies” by Jonathan’s own 205-member re-election committee, with roads shut from early morning to the evening, police said.

Jonathan’s supporters took out four-page newspaper advertisements on Monday calling for Nigerians to “be a witness to history” and saying his candidacy was “in response to Nigerians’ demand”.

“Nigerians endorsed Goodluck Jonathan for continuity,” the adverts ran, claiming that more than 17.8 million had so far endorsed his candidacy.

But for the country’s main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), Jonathan’s tenure has been far from a success, particularly on security and his perceived failure to tackle Boko Haram.

The Islamist violence, which began in 2009 a year before Jonathan stepped up from vice-president when President Umara Yar’Adua fell ill and later died, has been a defining feature of his tenure.

The violence has claimed more than 10,000 lives in five years and Jonathan has in recent months seen the apparent loss of more than a dozen towns to the militants in the far northeast.

On Monday, a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber killed at least 47 students in Yobe state, northeast Nigeria, in one of the worst attacks on a school teaching a so-called Western curriculum.

Islamists from Nigeria’s Boko Haram killed at least three civilians over the weekend as they attacked six communities in the remote north of neighbouring Cameroon, a defence ministry source told AFP on Tuesday.

“Six attacks were carried out almost simultaneously on Sunday,” the source said on condition of anonymity, adding that at least three people were reported killed in the attacks.

Jonathan came under fire for his lackluster response to the mass abduction of 276 schoolgirls in April and his decision to be seen partying 24 hours after the kidnapping. Two hundred and nineteen of the girls are still missing.

The president has also faced criticism of his record on tackling corruption as well as poor governance and accountability, which his detractors say have got worse since he won office in 2011.

The 56-year-old has long been expected to run for another four-year term and his announcement on Tuesday will come as no surprise to Nigerians.

State governors from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and its national executive committee in September handed him a free run at the presidential nomination by backing him as the sole candidate.

A high-ranking source close to the president then let slip in October that Jonathan would run, before Jonathan himself announced his plans to collect the $132,000 nomination form.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation, leading economy and oil producer, goes to the polls on February 14 next year to elect a new president.

The PDP has not been out of power since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.

But a wave of defections from the ruling party last year was seen as boosting the APC’s chances.

Rebel governors and lawmakers were unhappy at Jonathan, a southern Christian, seeking re-election in defiance of an unwritten rule to rotate the presidency with the Muslim majority north.

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