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Nigerian President announces election bid via Facebook

Reuters

Lagos, Nigeria

A presidential adviser said the Facebook announcement was an effort to mark a change with the old and energise a new part of the electorate.

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday declared his intention to run in elections next January, using an announcement on the networking site Facebook to steal the thunder from a rival''s campaign launch.

A statement on Jonathan''s Facebook page confirmed his decision to stand as thousands of people convened in the capital Abuja to hear former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida announce his candidacy for the top job.

Jonathan''s election bid is controversial because of an agreement in the ruling People''s Democratic Party (PDP) that power should rotate between the mostly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south every two terms.

Jonathan, who is from the Niger Delta in the south, inherited the presidency when late northern president Umaru Yar''Adua died this year during his first term. Some powerbrokers within the PDP say the next leader must be a northerner.

"In presenting myself for service, I make no pretence that I have a magic wand that will solve all of Nigeria''s problems, or that I am the most intelligent Nigerian," the statement on Jonathan''s Facebook page said.

"What I do promise is this - If I am elected President in 2011, I will make a covenant with you the Nigerian people to always do right by you, to tell you the truth at all times, to carry you along and most importantly to listen to you."

The majority of Nigeria''s 150 million people live on $2 a day or less and have limited access to clean water and electricity, let alone the Internet.

But the country has nonetheless overtaken South Africa as the continent''s top mobile phone market and is estimated to have the largest online audience in Africa.

Enough Is Enough, a civil society group hoping to encourage young people to take an active role in the elections, estimates there are more than 1.6 million Facebook users in Nigeria, and Jonathan''s announcement was a publicity coup.

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