The Many Neutral Perspectives to 2015 (Part 2); By Umar Mukhtar
Continued from Part 1>>>>>>>>>The Many Neutral Perspectives to 2015: Part 1; BY Umar Mukhtar
In the first part of this article, I discussed Nigeria’s leading political parties, their histories and perceived strengths. I will continue in this second part to dissect the 2 parties and their apparent strategies in the upcoming 2015 polls from a supposedly neutral perspective.
The PDP, as expected is likely to field Dr Goodluck Jonathan as its Presidential Candidate for the 2015 general elections. Already, numerous groups calling for Jonathan’s candidature have sprung up running adverts and holding mass rallies in the call for him to continue in office beyond 2015; the most hilarious being the ones who threatened him with arrest in the event he decided not to run for re-election. The PDP is one party which has had visible presence in about 95%-97% of Nigeria, angling in each of those areas to hold influential political offices.
There have been certain misgivings regarding the eligibility or otherwise of the President to run for office and have an oath administered upon him a third time as well as spending a cumulative 10 years in office in a democratic set-up. Some believe that the delay in the President’s declaration of intent in the race stems from the legal implications that may follow as well as an impending constitutional furore in 2017, when he would have been in office for 8 years (if he contest and wins the 2015 elections). It is believed that 8 years and two oaths are the maximum for a democrativally elected executive in Nigeria; however, the constitutionality or otherwise of same is yet to be tested as a similar case hovers over the horizon in Yobe, Kaduna and most recently Adamawa states.
In the event of President Jonathan’s eventual declaration and contest, whoever contests against President Jonathan within the PDP may only be in the race to ensure that the President is challenged, but going by the outcome country’s regional PDP caucuses, it is highly unlikely for the party to go against a Jonathan candidature. Also, it really appears that Nigeria is not overly fatigued by the growing apprehensions regarding what is mostly termed as “PDP’s misrule” for 15 years and “Jonathan’s perceived incompetence” for 5 years. This is further affirmed by the actions and body language of the voting population to suggest that the “APC does not appear to be any better” or “they are all the same” referring to the unavailability of credible leadership options. This posturing which is mainly from covertly politically naïve or chauvinistic prisms, in addition to the continued docility of the middle class in terms of political participation may make continuation in power for the PDP a reality in 2015.
There is indeed greater interest in the persona to fly the APC flag in 2015. In the early days of the merger, there were basically 2 sides to the emergence of a candidate; the 1st being that General Buhari (who came to office as Nigeria’s Head of State and left both via Coup D’état about 30 years ago) would simply lead the opposition in his fourth consecutive contest since 2003. The 2nd was that the personalities who led the incubation of the merger (General Buhari and Tinubu) have composed a political platform for a new Nigeria within which they would both serve as fathers and trustees, not as contestants for offices.
However, as the party took shape, the songs of General Buhari’s possible contest began to manifest yet again. Also, the party’s component of decampees has likely contenders in Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Kwankwaso of Kano State, Senator Bukola Saraki and Governor Okorocha of Imo State. As such the battle for APC’s ticket is most likely to be one between the party’s perceived original promoters and the decampees; pushing the “legacy parties” against those referred to as “new entrants”; but who account for the opposition party’s greater national spread.
In Buhari, the APC has in the Northern part of Nigeria a face synonymous with struggles for emancipation of the commoners and one that is seen to advocate entrenchment of discipline and ensuring a cohesive administration of the country’s common wealth. In the Southern part of Nigeria however, he is portrayed as a face that is intolerant and largely despising of any group other than the core Muslim north. He is also generally seen these days as “too old” to lead Nigeria given the country’s myriads of problems.
General Buhari’s consistent appearance as the leading opposition party candidate on 3 consecutive occasions gives off the impression of him believing to hold a monopoly of ideas towards leading Nigeria’s rescue mission; various comments by his promoters have suggested same. For a political strategist, since none of General Buhari’s contests has led to a run-off election, neither has it delivered the Governorship of his home state, it is certain that PDP has decoded the almighty formula of decimating his massive core Northern appeal by making salient in-roads in the core North (his stronghold) and ensuring that the minority portions of the North as well as the entire southern part of the country has remained near-impregnable for him.
Thus, in General Buhari’s avowed stronghold (Kano) in 2011, he polled 1.6 million votes while Jonathan polled 440,000; however, in Jonathan’s avowed stronghold (Rivers) Buhari polled 13,000 votes while Jonathan polled 1.8 million, in terms of net polling across opposition and ruling party strongholds, Jonathan netted 2.24 million votes (Kano + Rivers), while Buhari netted 1.6 million (Kano+Rivers); both of them came 1st and 3rd in each other’s strongholds. Also, in Buhari’s home state (Katsina) Jonathan polled 26% of the votes while in Jonathan’s home state (Bayelsa), Buhari polled 0.14%.
Most vehement opposition party supporters have alluded such wild gaps as products of systemic rigging, which however have been resisted in places where the opposition controlled robust structures (Adamawa 37%, Bauchi 81%, Borno 77%, Gombe 60%, Jigawa 58%, FCT 33%, Kano 60%, Kaduna 51%, Katsina 70%, Kebbi 54%, Nassarawa 40%, Niger 64%, Plateau 25%, Sokoto 60%, Taraba 35%, Yobe 35%, Zamfara 66%). In areas where the opposition lacked visible presence, the percentage of votes went as low as 0.14% with the PDP’s least being 16%; while voter turn-out totalled 52%.
Part 3 of this article will follow soonest.
Umar Y. Mukhtar (UMY)
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