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Nigeria’s Interim President Declares Candidacy on Facebook

Goodluck Jonathan took over the presidency of Nigeria at the beginning of the year when the last president, Umuru Yar’Adua fell ill, then died. He had served as Vice President on the People’s Democratic Party ticket. Now, Jonathan has, after months of speculation, declared his candidacy for President. On Facebook.

Jonathan has been a consistent user of Facebook. His account, “liked” by almost 240,000 people, is robust and updated frequently, sometimes several times a day. But given the relative lack of connectivity in that nation, some have theorized that using Facebook to declare was a way to attract substantial media attention in his candidacy.

Today, I confirm that after wide and thorough consultations spanning the six geo-political zones that make up Nigeria, with members of my family, my party, the opposition, civil society, the Private Sector, members of the Labour Unions, religious leaders, youths and student groups and our revered traditional institutions, I Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the grace of God hereby offer myself and my services to the Nigerian people as a candidate for the office of President in the forth coming 2011 elections.

Cameroonian blogger Zuzeeko Abeng noted that Jonathan started his Facebook page in June of this year “in fulfillment of a promise made to students at the University of Port Harcourt.”

“Pundits would term the creation of a Facebook page a ‘tactic’ and an attempt to score political points, but without going into politics, permit me to reiterate that by creating a Facebook page, Goodluck Jonathan has demonstrated skills of good governance, leadership, transparency and accountability.”

In the first 48 hours Jonathan’s page got liked by 7,000 new users. In the last hour, it has grown by over 150. His declaration has gotten over 5,000 likes and 6,500 comments.

Jonathan’s major opponent is former strongman and military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, who made his announcement in a traditional fashion, at a rally on Wednesday.

Babangida was instrumental in nullfying the 1993 elections, which were a bright spot in an electoral landscape characterized primarily by fraud and corruption. Nigeria is an oil-rich country and member of OPEC, with as many difficulties as resources. The Niger Delta is severely compromised, both ecologically and socially.

Elections are likely to take place in January of 2011.

As far as we can tell, President Goodluck Jonathan is the first candidate for the presidency of a nation to declare that presidency on Facebook. In fact, we can’t find any candidate that has declared first on any social media. If you know of any, correct our misapprehensions in the comments. And if you’re Nigerian, how did you feel about this act? Was it a stunt or a candidate keeping up with the times?

Abjua photo from Wikimedia Commons

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