President's annoucement comes a week after the Independent National Electoral Commission set election date [EPA]

The Nigerian president has declared his intention to run in the upcoming presidential elections on his Facebook webpage, despite disagreement within his ruling party over his candidacy.

"Today I confirm that after wide and thorough consultations... 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 forthcoming 2011 elections," Jonathan said in a statement on his page on the social networking site on Wednesday.

The statement said Jonathan would make a formal declaration in the capital Abuja on Saturday on his intention to run for the leadership of Africa's most populous nation.

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 predominantly Christian south every two terms, meaning a northerner should be the next leader.

Jonathan is from the southern Niger delta.

He said his decision to stand came after consultations with leaders of the country's six geo-political zones, the ruling party, the opposition, civil society, labour unions and religious establishment.

Last week, The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that the election will be held on January 22, despite concerns that it does not give the nation enough time to hold a credible election.

Ever since the oil-rich country embraced democracy in 1999, its elections have been marred by vote-rigging and violence.

The accelerated timetable leaves INEC little time to forge ahead with a badly needed overhaul of the electoral register, a reform seen as vital if the country is to avoid a repeat of its last chaotic polls three and half years ago.
 
Nigerian lawmakers last month approved a planned bond issue to fund a $585 million budget for the electoral commission to overhaul voter lists and buy additional ballot boxes ahead of the polls.

Source: Agencies