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Jonathan Cancels US Trip Amid Political and Security Concerns

September 18, 2010

President Goodluck Jonathan has cancelled his planned trip to the United States where he had planned to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

President Goodluck Jonathan has cancelled his planned trip to the United States where he had planned to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

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The cancellation came moments after Mr. Jonathan officially declared that he is in the run for the presidency of the country in elections scheduled for January 2011.

Earlier today, Jonathan had kicked off his campaign at the Eagle Square in Abuja. His official declaration came three days after former dictator Ibrahim Babangida also launched his campaign at the same venue.

Jonathan was initially scheduled to arrive tomorrow in New York, but postponed his trip till next Wednesday. Today, two sources close to him told Saharareporters that Jonathan has discarded the New York trip.

The sources said Jonathan decided to stay back in Nigeria because of the dicey situation of the politics at home as well as security concerns, especially over his sudden removal of top security chiefs last week.

“The president cannot afford to lose momentum to Babangida and other opponents within the PDP,” said one of our sources. He added, “It’s important for him to represent Nigeria at the UN General Assembly, but he considers it more important to stay home and continue to make the case that he’s the PDP’s best choice.”

But another source said that there were genuine concerns that some military officers were unhappy with the removal of the chief of army staff, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau. Danbazzau was fired last week while he attended an official program in New York. “The president has to stay home and make sure that some people don’t resort to acts calculated to undermine the nation’s already fragile security,” the source said.

Despite Jonathan’s absence in New York, Saharareporters learned that Nigeria is again causing a scandal with the number of its public officials who are planning to be in the city for Millennium Development Goals Conference.

“More 300 Nigerian officials, including 46 lawmakers, are coming to the event,” one of our sources disclosed. “They’re arriving in droves into New York City,” she added.

Had Jonathan gone ahead with his plans to attend the UN meeting on Wednesday, he would have added 100 Nigerians to what could have passed as the largest Nigerian delegation to any international event – apart from the Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995.

A diplomat from one of the EU nations, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Saharareporters that Nigeria’s huge delegations to international conferences “sends a wrong message about the country’s priorities.” He added, “Nigeria lags behind many other African countries when it comes to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, but it surpasses almost every country in the number of officials it sends to the meetings.”



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