Embattled Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan faced another setback on Thursday when his close political ally, Bamanga Tukur, stepped aside. Nigerians are divided over the implications.
Bamanga Tukur resigned as chairman of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday. His departure was a key demand by President Goodluck Jonathan's opponents inside the party.
The crisis facing Jonathan revolves around his assumed intention to run for another term in the 2015 election. Five governors and several lawmakers have defected to the opposition in protest at his anticipated ambitions.
Jonathan is accused, among other things, of ignoring an unwritten rule that presidential candidates rotate between Nigeria's mainly Muslim north and the majority Christian south. Jonathan, the incumbent president, comes from the south.
Tukur was seen by many as a divisive figure, an undemocratically appointed place man for Jonathan within the party. His departure could help ease opposition to Jonathan, especially if he can pick a replacement who is loyal to him.
DW's correspondent in Abuja, Ben Shemang said Tukur was being used as "a sacrificial lamb" to quell unrest within the PDP.
Replacement to be named
Jonathan said the replacement chairman would come from the northeast region, as Tukur does, and would be announced on Monday.
"We have some internal problems that have been agitating the mind of the people. For us to make sure that we rest these issues, the party chairman agreed to step aside," Jonathan said in his speech.
"Members of this party are still faithful to the party. Of course we have few defections, which to me is normal," he said. "I don't think it's something we should worry ourselves about too much." he added.
Bayo Okunade, a professor of political science at the University of Ibadan, said Tukur's resignation was inevitable to avoid the destruction of the PDP.
"It is a good thing for democracy. It is a triumph for democracy that the party was able to force him out," he told the news agency AFP.
But he warned that trouble may still loom for Jonathan depending on the reaction of Tukur's supporters and whether his replacement enjoyed broad support in the party.
Defections, confusion or win-win
Nigerians DW spoke to were divided over what Tukur's resignation would mean for their country.
Philipp Jakpor told DW's Sam Olukoya in Lagos it was a welcome development for those who are in that party and those who are outside it. "Bamanga Tukur's tenure has been characterized by a lot of defections, a lot of confusion in the party. He has led the PDP to near ruin and it will take a lot to get that party back on track," he said.
Wale Fatade told DW: "It is win-win for the President. It's just part of the tradition of the norm – no chairman has ever completed his tenure," he said.
Another Lagos resident, Betty Abah, told DW "things are falling apart. We should really be worried – if a party cannot hold together how are they to be expected to control the rest of Nigeria."