Elections Post-mortem: PDP’s Delirium Vs APC’s triumphalism By Segun Tomori
The elections have come and gone but the memories will linger for quite some time. The reason for this is not far-fetched. The ruling party suffered a shellacking unparalleled in Nigeria’s history. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not only swept out of power at the centre by All Progressives Congress (APC)’s rampaging “tsunami”, it was humbled at the National Assembly and State level where it lost its majority status. As if hit by a thunderbolt, the PDP has remained in disarray, mumbling incoherent reasons for its defeat, basking sometimes on inanity rather than deep introspection on what dethroned it from its ruling status to opposition for the first time in 16 years.
The defeat of PDP didn’t happen on March 28 or April 11, those days were just symbolic for its manifestation. They got the red card a long time ago! It is a rather puzzling irony that President Jonathan who rode on the wings of “I have no shoes” mantra and popular goodwill to win a pan-Nigerian mandate in 2011 became the single most potent weapon of mass destruction of his party. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong.
Jonathan reneged on an alleged unwritten one-term pact with the North which he endorsed to get their support in 2011. Ex-President Obasanjo, Jonathan’s estranged god-father testified to this. The President took power and began to, within months, dismantle the structures of real or imaginary opponents within his party. This is the genesis of the loss that PDP suffered. Obasanjo loyalists were weeded out, New PDP faction merged with the APC while earth-shaking defections rocked the PDP such that on the eve of elections it was a party on life support living on the oxygen of Federal power and resources.
If Jonathan had performed and met the expectations of Nigerians, the rumblings in his party wouldn’t have mattered. They would have been compelled by popular clamour to support his candidacy and APC wouldn’t have had the kind of momentum that heralded it’s formation and eventual victory. But Jonathan turned out to be a huge disaster and embarrassment not only to his party but to the vast majority of Nigerians and the international community. His famed innate weakness, lethargy and incompetence became the hallmark of his administration. Not only was President Jonathan lacking in vision and intellect on how to govern the country, he wasn’t gifted in the oratory department to rally citizens behind him. His body language most times gave him away as a non-challant leader who doesn’t seem to know his left from his right.
The lack-lustre fight against the Boko Haram terror group further ostracised him from the people. People were murdered in cold blood, thousands were displaced and territories that analysts compare to the size of Belgium were captured while Jonathan looked on, rehearsing empty rhetoric and virtually surrendering to terrorists! He even took to dancing “azonto” at a PDP event barely 24 hrs after a major terror attack which left scores of citizens massacred. It took his imminent defeat on February 14, the hitherto scheduled date for the elections for Jonathan to rouse himself into action, but it was too late. Nigerians saw through the deceit and rejected him despite the massive gains of the military against terror within the six-week extension corridor.
Corruption which had eaten deep into the very fabric of the Nigerian society became elevated to an “ART of the STATE” under the Jonathan administration. Rather than fight terror and sanction corrupt members of his cabinet, Jonathan rose in their defence and shielded them from scrutiny. Petroleum Minister Diezanni is a vivid example. He accused the House of Representatives probing her of disturbing her job, he alleged on national TV she has been invited over 200 times ! The massive looting continued unabated. Ex-CBN chief, Sanusi Lamido, who became a whistle-blower and alleged $20b was missing from the nation’s oil proceeds was hounded out of office. 400,000 barrels of crude oil are stolen daily with no attempt to block the leakages. Those on corruption charges just need to move over to the President’s camp and the cases against them will be rendered prostrate. International thieves were granted Presidential pardon to the consternation of Nigerians and the international community.
The privatisation of the Nation’s power assets was initially hailed as a step in the right direction, it has however not translated into improved power supply, a year and half after its consummation. If anything, the hitherto epileptic power supply is now barely non-existent with 2 hrs electricity in a day now considered a luxury in most parts of the country. As if that is not enough, the economy caved in late last year largely due to mismanagement of resources and the inability to diversify our economy. These are core issues that decided the elections not the peripheral reasons that Jonathan and PDP continue to delude themselves with.
The APC synced with this issues, latched on to grievances against the Jonathan administration and made it a campaign theme. Its slogan of Change resonated with the people who have become disillusioned with the incompetence of the Jonathan administration. No wonder candidate Buhari, now President-elect made the war against corruption, insecurity and the economy a major plank of his campaign. The people decided on give APC and it’s candidate a chance not because they all believed their message,but would rather vote to oust Jonathan who had lost every inch of goodwill in the run-up to the elections. This fact was buttressed by his loss of all public opinion polls including those conducted by his allies.
In fact, it would have been a fifth wonder of the world if Jonathan had won. The card reader and Permanant Voter’s Card (PVC) innovation introduced by INEC had frustrated rigging plans to a large extent. Nigeria would have descended into civil war if anything untoward was done to forcefully alter the people’s will. One would have expected the PDP to come to terms with this and go back to the drawing board but it has chosen to base it’s post-defeat analysis on wrong conclusions rather than deep reflection. An accurate examination of what led to their defeat will help put their house in order and position the party for its new role as Nigeria’s new opposition party.
While it is commendable that Jonathan conceded defeat even before the announcement of APC’s Muhammadu Buhari as President-elect, it is the right thing to do and cannot be termed extra-ordinary because his hands were tied. The collation of results from polling units done independently across the country had already given it to Buhari making the State by State announcement in Abuja a mere formality. The social media proved effective in making the results go viral such that even the international community knew where the pendulum was swinging. No wonder the US and UK issued a joint statement a day before the results were announced warning against political interference in the collation process. This showed that Jonathan had just two choices, he either go the “Gbagbo” way or concede defeat. Sane reasoning prevailed, he chose the latter! He, by that singular act redeemed himself, he will no longer be remembered as a clueless President but as one who strengthened the nation’s democracy by pioneering the hand-over to an opposition party.
The out-going President soon got irritated by the post-election aura of the APC which has naturally been basking in the euphoria of victory. It condemned what it called the negative triumphalism of the in-coming governing party and reminded it that his concession of defeat should not be seen as an act of cowardice but magnanimity. Arrant nonsense!!
The APC, a party barely 2 years old, which against all odds surmounted every obstacle on its way to clinch the Presidency has won its bragging rights! President-Elect Buhari did not negotiate victory, neither did he go into a run-off, he won fair and square and won handsomely! Apart from winning popular votes, Mr Buhari cornered four out of the nation’s six regions and effectively reduced Jonathan’s votes haul in the remaining 2 regions. Nigerians voted him because of his perceived ability to lead a government unusual. It will be fool-hardy for President Jonathan to think the President-elect’s transition committee will just accept the hand-over notes without asking questions. They must, and that doesn’t translate to forming a parallel government.
It was even speculated that Jonathan has barred Buhari from receiving foreign envoys that have been thronging Defence house to congratulate him. He was said to have asserted he remains President till May 29. While this is true, the visits of the foreign ambassadors does not usurp his authority in anyway. I wonder if he’ll write to foreign missions to give bite to his alleged directive. That will be laughable and portray him by as a man haunted by defeat and overwhelmed by the isolation that comes with it.
Buhari supporters across the country must redefine their role now that their hero has won. The President-elect is human, he is not infallible, and as such must be told the truth always to help him succeed. The now reverted order barring AIT from covering the activities of the President-elect was blindly supported by most of the General’s social media goons. While it is a known fact that AIT threw professionalism to the dogs during the campaigns and carried on as if ethics meant nothing to it, they can only be barred from Buhari through a court order. Buhari by virtue of his position as President-elect is a public figure and the press including AIT is protected by law to cover him. Thank God APC over-ruled the alleged order and the most interesting aspect of the saga was that the President-elect claimed he never gave the order and wasn’t aware of it in the first place!
This shows that what Buhari needs now are supporters that will stand on the side of what is right, tell him when he errs lest he is hijacked by overzealous aides or sycophants that might derail his mission. If the change Nigeria voted for must manifest, we must begin to put national interests first and throw sycophancy over-board. This became the bane of past leaders some of which had good intentions but faltered on the altar of “yes men” that massaged their ego, and told them what they wanted to hear.
The onus falls on PDP to pull itself out of its self-conjured unconsciousness and debilitating trauma to focus on the task of assuming its role as opposition party. The party must get its acts right so as to keep APC on its toes and ensure it delivers on its promises. Nigeria will be better for it.
Winning for the new governing party, the APC is the easy part. It must not give in to complacency but must hit the ground running from May 29. The party must strive to build a cohesive structure and unite its diverse interests, this is crucial for the success of the administration. By now, the President-elect should be putting finishing touches to his cabinet and be resolute in his promise of putting “round pegs in round holes”. The starting point is to run a lean government and plug all leakages. That will free considerable resources to ensure Nigerians begin to see visible changes within 6 months of the administration. For now, we can only wish the In-coming President and his party all the best in the very challenging mission to rescue the sinking ship of the Nigerian State.
Public Affairs Analyst
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