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The Beginning Of Biggest, Witty Presidential Battle (Analysis)

Jonathan and Buhari

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau – Nigeria is really on course to yet another Republic. Now, that the much awaited and biggest National Conventions of the two largest Nigerian political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which featured their Presidential Primaries were over, the stage is now set for the real, rigorous and witty battle between the two frontline and contending parties.

Buhari pledges new Nigeria

Buhari pledges new Nigeria

As for the two – APC and PDP conventions, there are some exciting developments to share. The two-day National meetings of the ruling PDP with over 3,000 delegates drawn from the 36 States of the Federation and held at the famous Eagles Square FCT, Abuja was expectedly flamboyant, with the party stalwarts in ‘Aso Ebi’ like and branded apparels with green ‘Awoist’ cap to march. Well, you can’t beat political parties to that anyway.

PDP Convention, aside ratifying some of its National Working Committee (NWC) officers, which included the National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu; National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo and National Treasurer, Adewale Adeyanju and ultimately formally endorsing the candidature of the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in line with the country’s Electoral Act, the meeting could easily go for another reunion forum for the party members across the country.

The Lagos Convention of the opposition APC although was very engaging, but it eventually turned out to be more very interesting – carnival like and on a serious note, was democratic in all senses.

The Convention was almost initially going the similar direction like its ruling PDP counterpart, as at the eve and on its first day, the rumours was making the round on the possibility of two candidates stepping down for the eventual winner. Indeed, it was a big issue as the lobbying, persuasions and many politicking transpired among the aspirants and their supporters for hours, but to no avail, hence the conclusion that all the contestants should file up and prove their mettle. It was all of these that occasioned a long delay to the formal start of the meeting and voting.

PDP Presidential Primary Election In Abuja On Wednesday, 12/10/2014

PDP Presidential Primary Election In Abuja On Wednesday, 12/10/2014

Of course, the APC aspirants’ refusal to back out of the race later became a strong factor and statement by the party, as the defeated four, except Sam Nda – Isiah who did not show up at the declaration, while giving their post – declaration remarks hailed the exercise and gladly accepted defeat as well as pledged to support their co – contestant and the winner, Major General Muhammadu Buhari. The Former Head of State scored total of 3, 430 votes out 5, 992 total valid votes cast at the third National Convention of the party.

What now follows is electioneering campaigns and reach out to the Nigerian populace by both parties and their candidates – Gen. Buhari and President Jonathan of the APC and PDP respectively.

For a political party and its candidate to win general elections, in any part of the world, effectively, some credentials must be available and to fall back, so as to appeal; woo and convince the electorates that both the parties and their candidate are up to the task to deliver. There we go to the Unique Selling Propositions (USP) of the two leading and perhaps ‘only visible’ Presidential candidates for the 2015 Nigerian general elections.

Beginning from General Buhari. The Katsina – born retired Military General was once a Minister (Federal Commissioner for Petroleum) under the Military junta of (rtd) General Olusegun Obasanjo which lasted between 1976 and 1979. Earlier, Buhari was appointed under late General Muritala Mohammed military regime, as a Military Governor of the old North Eastern States of Nigeria. He was again appointed in 1977 by Gen. Obasanjo Military administration, the Head of the country oil empire – the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); assumed as the Military Head of State on December 31, 1983, while the regime was toppled in 1985. During the black days of late General Sanni Abacha’s Military junta, Gen Buhari was again appointed, the Executive Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF).

So far and from all the appointments within and outside his 23 years Military career, Buhari’s undisputable hallmarks are: honesty, discipline and diligence. And one of the legacies – War Against Indiscipline (WAI) of his Military regime till the moment remains a reference point and still in full practice across the country. In addition, was his regime no holds bares and landmark wars against drug trafficking and armed robbery. Expectedly, Buhari and his campaign’s train as well as party will hammer on these pedigrees as they begin to hit the cities and towns; nooks and crannies of Nigeria to canvass for votes in the Presidential election and others.

On the part of the incumbent President Jonathan, the Zoology (Bsc) graduate, University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) historically is a humble and diligent public servant and up till 1998, was an Education Inspector, a Lecturer, and Environmental-Protection Officer. He was elected alongside his former boss and one time Governor of his State – Bayelsa, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, as the Deputy Governor; elected Vice President to late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua; elevated as an Acting President and later confirmed as the number one man in the country after demise of his boss – Yar’adua.

Jonathan, before his election as President in 2011 was generally perceived to be a committed and core loyalists of his superiors. Some sections of public consider him to be gentle and a calculative politician. No doubt at all, his political strategists will never leave out these credentials. But most importantly, President Jonathan will unarguably harp so much on his (administration) ‘self – acclaimed’ economic fortunes since he assumed power almost four years ago.

Still, the President and his team need to arm themselves with convincing defences and explanations relating to the bloated corruption profile and consistent poor (international) rating linked to his government as well as security challenges, in particular, the failed efforts to curb and confront deadly Boko Haram insurgents offensives, who had held sway in his (President Jonathan) over six years administration (as an acting and substantive President) of Nigeria.

The political parties spread. As we speak, the opposition APC is in control of about 14 States while the ruling PDP takes charge of about 21, aside the FCT Abuja – the land for all in terms of voting culture, perhaps. As they stand, PDP ordinarily stands a better chance of victory of block votes from its largest strongholds and with paltry 25 per cent from other States.

This calculation will however not hold water, given the fact that voting dimension from one election to another not only in Nigeria is always differs. Therefore, the PDP must still stress itself over the possibility of ‘parallel’ votes even in a State it governs. This shocker is mostly possible in the Northern region of the country. The point here is that the trusted personality will appeal mostly to many core Northerners than other ‘outsider’. The earlier Jonathan campaign’s team is faced and admitted this fact, the better for the candidate and his party.

Besides, the untoward impacts of internal wrangling confronting some chapters of the ruling PDP is another big issue before it. On the list are: Adamawa; Ebonyi; Enugu and Lagos (not really); Ogun; Rivers and lately Plateau States. The dust raised by the alleged misgivings allegedly instigated by the party leaders in the just concluded primaries are yet to subside, instead, situation appears getting worst by the day. But if the differences are resolved “amicably” as promised by Mr. President in his acceptance speech Thursday, better for him and his party.

Running Mate debate. Well, President Jonathan seemed read very well and correctly the handwriting on the wall here. Against the speculations of dumping his Vice, Namadi Sambo, Jonathan refused to bulge and finally resolved to carry on with his current political ‘soul – mate’. That to me was the easiest and most wise way to go, given again the lingering aversions among the PDP family members. APC has before it here, a hectic task.

From the grapevine, the take is that a National leader of the party and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has been pushing and still, for his former Commissioner for Justice, Professor Yemi Osibajo to run with Gen Buhari. And within its Governors’ circle, Babatunde Fashola (Lagos); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) are being touted as likely running mate to the retired General. While a version of rumour says Buhari himself is lately rooting for the Lagos political ‘octopus’ (Tinubu), another is confirming that one of the late very influential force collaborating for the Party’s victory is gunning for the sacked Osun State Governor and ex – National Scribe of the PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola to peer with the APC’s Presidential candidate.

Whichever of the version is correct, the APC must consider this topic as a big burden as well as very sensitive issue, which personal interest must give way. But if the party leaders fail to manage this matter objectively and very well, it might in the long run, hamper whatever chances they think they stand, to win the ‘big’ election next year. A food for thought to all that matters in the opposition circle!

Money. Democracy is very expensive all over the world. Question; can the APC empire compete conveniently with the ruling party with respect to campaign budgets? Answer to this, I feel is not debatable, but some may differ. However, the truth is that the incumbent candidate and the ruling party have edge over others. Yet, the ruling party may not rejoice over this, as spending on whatever and   however, may not sway people. PDP should realize that there are: goodwill, trust, confidence, and dignity question, pedigree/past factors which will strongly and eventually play out in final voting decision. Recall Ekiti and Osun recent governorship elections.

Now, where do common Nigerians stand in the big battle between the leading Presidential candidates? Certainly, they are awaiting their reach out; articulations and persuasions to sell themselves and their parties assess and consider them for final decision. Unfortunately, there are some voting public who consider the emerging season as rainy days. This category whether we like it or not is one of the effects of raging poverty in the Nigerian societies. This is another big assignment for the successive administrations in the country.

And this takes us to the focus of the electioneering campaigns of the candidates of the two parties – APC and PDP to be majorly issues focus – featuring debates with interest on economy; security; education; health; agriculture; power; corruption; national orientation agenda and other key issues by the parties. The campaign organizations of the candidates should think seriously towards this, while other relevant local stakeholders, such as mass media; civil societies; labour unions; professional bodies; academic communities and youths should collaborate majorly to engage the candidates and their parties as the campaigns take proper and bigger shapes.

Finally, 16 years of successive democracy should and must advance beyond experimentation level. Instead, the Nigerian democratic process should by now maintain a progressive and steady movement and acceleration. This is an untiring effort; so let all hands be on deck to grow and develop the country’s democracy. No one should miss out in the emerging big and historic, assignment, struggles and battle.

Lagos PDP Guber Primary: Koro’s Allegation and Agbaje’s Counter   

The Lagos State ruling PDP governorship primary going by allegation of one of the aspirants, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro was fraught with certain irregularities. Koro alleged difference between the total votes (867) announced by the primary returning officer and total delegates (806) accredited. The aggrieved aspirant recorded a total of 343 votes as against 432 polled by the winner, Jimi Agbaje.

Jimi Agbaje

Jimi Agbaje

However Agabje countered that the total of 58 (61) really by the allegation, omitted delegates was made up of Ikeja Ad Hoc Delegates -30; Ikeja Statutory Delegates -7; Ojo Statutory Delegates -7; Mushin Statutory Delegates -7; Alimosho Statutory Delegates -7. He claimed that Koro and other aspirants as well as their agents were privy to this. Senator Obanikoro through his allegation has gained public sympathy before Agbaje and the party’s counter came.

The situation as it were now looks very interesting, especially as Koro has vowed to challenge the (fraud?) in court. His resolve is the best thing to happen. And for Agbaje and State’s PDP to come out further clean in defending the allegation will do the public a lot of favour. Those who are clamouring, for the last to be heard on the matter are not keen about Koro’s interest as he is reputed for the same foul play. But two wrongs can never be right, so it is said, rather, it is for justice to be served and advance the Nigerian democracy.

However, if by remote exchanges, Koro backs out of his threat and issue buried, it means the PDP indeed, is a rigging machine as repeatedly alleged by the opposition. Yet, if the case is pursued, and the public discovers the rabble – rouser politician is again showing his usual self; simply no surprise. But for now, the issue remains an allegation and the existing system should allow Koro to get to the root and let the public get its fact.

E – Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Twitter: @tajudeenbalogun





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