Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
Would you order three new jets just so your successor could use them?
President Goodluck Jonathan is keeping Nigerians guessing as to whether he plans to stand in elections due next January, but suspicions are growing that he will eventually decide to contest.
Plans he has set out range from boosting power supply – perhaps Nigeria’s most critical need – to improving roads. Those are certainly not projects that anyone could complete quickly. On Wednesday, cabinet approved the purchase of three presidential jets at a cost of $150 million – adding to the suspicions he sees himself making use of them.
But there remains the question of Nigeria’s careful ethnic political dance. Jonathan must win over northerners who believe they deserve another turn at the presidency because late President Umaru Yar’Adua, a Muslim northerner, died in office. In another possible sign of Jonathan trying to win favour in the north, he appointed two female opposition members from the region to his cabinet this week.
It can’t be easy for anyone who becomes president to turn down the chance to stay in office – particularly at the urging of supporters constantly assuring you that you can do the job better than anyone else.
Given that the leaders of the world’s most firmly capitalist countries are splashing around unprecedented billions to nationalise banks, prop up industry and try to get economies moving, it might seem churlish for anyone to question South Africa’s ruling ANC for planning to spend a bit more freely.
This weekend, the African National Congress set out its election manifesto priorities of creating jobs and improving education and health – promises interpreted by many as marking a generally leftward shift under the leadership of president in waiting Jacob Zuma.