Q+A-Implications of Nigerian president's primaries win
LAGOS Jan 14 (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan clinched victory in the ruling party primaries by a wider margin than many expected on Friday, although he faced resistance from some parts of the mostly Muslim north.
The win makes him the firm favourite for April elections, which could see him become the first elected head of state from the restive Niger Delta, home to Africa's biggest oil and gas industry and the nation's economic powerhouse. [ID:nLDE70D00D]
It also ruptures an agreement in the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) that power should rotate between north and south every two presidential terms, a pact meant to ensure harmony between the country's two main regions.
Following are some questions and answers about the implications of Jonathan's victory:
HOW WILL IT AFFECT THE APRIL POLLS?
Jonathan's candidacy in the primaries was controversial because of the zoning agreement and there was concern it could split the ruling party -- long the dominant force in Nigerian politics -- with northern factions breaking away.
A "northern consensus" of politicians backing his rival former Vice President Atiku Abubakar -- including ex-military ruler Ibrahim Babangida and former national security adviser Aliyu Gusau -- partly held together at Thursday's vote.
Babangida's home state of Niger and Gusau's home state of Zamfara both voted massively against Jonathan.
But another "consensus northerner", Kwara state governor Bukola Saraki, failed to deliver his part of the deal -- Kwara voted strongly for Jonathan. The president also won other key northern states including Kaduna and Katsina.
That suggests it could be difficult for Abubakar, even if he leaves the PDP, to mount a serious challenge in April.
His main rival is more likely to be former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, running on the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) ticket. [ID:nLDE7031OT]
"I would have thought Jonathan emerges from the (primaries) process stronger. He has never stood for election on his own before, and has seen off one of the heaviest hitters in Nigerian politics," said Antony Goldman of London-based PM Consulting.
"A campaign with Jonathan and Buhari as the two likely principals may be less visceral than those that have gone before," he said.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR NATIONAL SECURITY?
There is a perception that Jonathan's victory will be well received in the Niger Delta and badly received in the north.
But the national security equation is not that simple.
He has supporters and enemies in the delta. Car bombs near an Independence Day parade he was attending in Abuja on Oct. 1 were claimed by the region's main militant group. Another bomb went off in Abuja on New Year's Eve, though no group claimed it.
Equally, few analysts expect widespread violent protest in the north if Jonathan goes on to win the April polls.
But there is a risk that if, as many suspect, recent violence including the bombs and ethnic unrest in the central "Middle Belt" is being orchestrated to undermine him, such insecurity may persist ahead of the April vote.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR POLICY AND REFORM?
Jonathan is a known quantity, with a number of policy drives in gestation, and investors are likely to prefer consistency.
His administration has put forward a bill to create a sovereign wealth fund to better manage the country's oil savings, largely squandered in recent years.
Radical reforms to the oil industry, which will change everything from the fiscal terms for new investment to the involvement of local firms, are before parliament. Their progress has been painfully slow, but a change of leadership could delay them even further.
He has also announced a blueprint for the multi-billion dollar privatisation of the domestic power sector, which again could be scrapped or reviewed should Jonathan lose in April.
But his administration has also been criticised for rapidly rising government spending and borrowing, and the depletion of foreign reserves, despite rising oil prices.
"A good election will be critical," said Goldman.
"But in the longer term only the resolution of core governance issues, including the adoption and implementation of reforms in oil, gas and energy will lead to any genuine improvement in the investment climate." (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/ ) (Editing by Giles Elgood)
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