By Ifeanyi OttahAs the 2015 Political campaign gathers momentum, especially as the February 14th Presidential election dominates discussions at virtually every gathering, there is every reason to believe that President Goodluck Jonathan may lose to former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari.
There is no doubt that President Jonathan and Gen. Buhari among other candidates are two most powerful Presidential contenders. While Jonathan can boast of a formidable support base in the south south geopolitical zone, where he hails from, and the parts of the south east, Buhari enjoys a huge followership in the North. To win the race, it would require the two combatants to win majority of the votes in the south-west zone which is generally seen as the main battle ground for the presidential election.
While the South-West All Progressive Congress (APC) is vigorously campaigning for its Presidential Candidate Gen. Buhari, the self styled largest Political Party in Africa, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the zone is not leaving anything to chance in campaigning for the incumbent President Jonathan.
The APC remains very strong and the Party in the zone has seriously gained grounds in the last four years.
The defection of many PDP Chieftains to the APC after the Party Primaries has also added to its strength.
From indications, Gen. Buhari clearly has an edge over President Jonathan following the Popularity and performance of the governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun States who incidentally must work hard to deliver Buhari in their States.
President Jonathan will likely carry the day in Ekiti State given the fact that Governor Ayodele Fayose is very popularity in the State.
Since Buhari and Jonathan kicked off their campaigns in Port Harcourt and Lagos respectively, residents of the States they have visited have been responding to their campaign.
Many among the residents of Lagos and Enugu frowned at President Jonathan’s mode of Campaign, which they said was more of attack on the opposition candidate than about telling the people of his achievements in office and how he intends to improve on them.
Dr. Obiora Nnamani, a Staff of Parklane Teaching Hospital Enugu who spoke to AMEN Super News said President Jonathan instead of telling the people what he wants to do for the country in the next four years if he is voted in again went as far as attacking his opponent.
He said; “What I expected from President Jonathan is to say what he intends to achieve for Nigerians in the next four years; issue based Campaign and not an attack on his predecessors.
“Nigeria is sinking. Even if he doesn’t have any new programme for the next four years, he needs to improve on his achievements. The insecurity challenges, unemployment and corruption needs to be tackled seriously.
“We want a President that will discuss issues. What has he in store for Nigerians to arrest the situation we found our economy in? This idea of strike action by workers especially doctors should stop. I pray that Nigeria will remain a united entity even after this election”.
Yet far from being dismissed as one of the old guards, Buhari’s methods are seen by some as the only way to help Africa’s troubled giant change course.
The APC points to his record of tackling corruption, while even former President Olusegun Obsanjo, has been quoted as saying that Buhari would be better placed to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
Pundits are of the view that when Buhari over threw civilian President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983 the changes he brought about in a country blighted by years of graft and inefficiency are still on record. Meanwhile, for the fourth time, Buhari will contest the Presidential election as a civilian. He was Military Head of State between December 1983 and August 1985. Buhari contested against Jonathan in 2011, and in that election President Jonathan carried the day. In this February encounter it is expected that the election would be free and fair and most importantly conform to the international standard.
Gen. Buhari then contested on the platform of the newly created congress for progressive change, CPC, registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) barely a year before the 2011 general elections. The Party was based mainly in the Northern part of the country. The result of that elections according to political observers reflected the strengths of the parties and not the candidates. It could be recalled that while Buhari and his Party CPC managed to campaign in northern part of the country leaving the whole of the Southern Nigeria, President Jonathan and his Party the PDP campaigned in every State of the Federation. As he did not campaign at all in the South, Buhari did not secure the required 25% of the votes in Southern Nigerian states, yet he won all the states in the north and secured 31.9% of the total votes.
It is gradually becoming clear that President Jonathan may never have a field day in the February 14th Presidential elections. Even if the Party were to win the Presidential election, it would be with a small margin. But there is a fair chance that the APC would be the winner of the election. Nigerians have for a long time not trusted the PDP given the dullness and indecisiveness of President Jonathan. Since some of the leaders of PDP defected to APC, there are a good number of their aggrieved members that preached a different kind of politics, such that it is clear to Nigerians that there is a big difference between the two parties.
Observers posit that President Jonathan’s government is built on corruption. He has severally been accused publicly of presiding over a system of corruption and that he surrounds himself with corrupt people. But Buhari’s name has never been associated with corruption in the Nigerian discourse. Chief Mike Ugwu, a Chieftain of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) said: “Buhari’s government introduced ‘War Against Indiscipline’ and everybody inculcated the culture of orderliness in doing things, without cutting corners.”
“Under him, corruption and impurity were prohibited and anyone found wanting would be sent to prison”.
According to him, “Buhari will defeat Jonathan this time because we’re tired of this government. Buhari is an honest man. He will fight corruption and all those who have stolen Nigeria’s money will be dealt with. He did it before… Nigeria will be great again under Buhari. He will crush Boko Haram and there will be peace everywhere”.
Consequently Buhari is said to be the only person who was President of Nigeria that actually took genuine steps to fight corruption and other social maladies. He is regarded as the only Nigeria former head of State since after the civil war who did not enrich himself while in office.
Buhari is also seen as a decisive leader, and one who would make tough decisions, irrespective of whose ox is gored.
Analysts recall how his government stood up to the international community during his Presidency, refusing to be dictated to by the Britain and the United States. It could be recalled that despite Umaru Diko’s status in Nigerian Politics, the Buhari government crated him to Nigeria from self exile in Britain to face trial for corruption.
However, President Jonathan is seen as a man who cannot stop his wife from undue and rude intrusion into party and national affairs. He is seen also as one who is docile and ineffective Jonathan lacks the kind of leadership qualities the country needs now. Due to his weakness, governors have consistently reduced the office of the President to radicle.
It is no longer news that there is serious crisis in at least 19 States over who should be the governorship or senatorial candidate. In Enugu, Abia, Akwa- Ibom, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Imo, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Benue States there are acute disagreements and agitation about how the governorship and Senatorial primaries have been conducted. The powers that be within the PDP anoint aspirants behind the scenes, and then still pretend that they are conducting primaries. Most governorship aspirants in that last PDP primaries were endorsed by President Jonathan’s wife, and this development had forced some aggrieved members of the Party to defect to APC and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The whole system is riddled with fraud when it should have been very simple to religiously follow the provisions of the Party constitution and the electoral guidelines.
On the other hand, APC publicly conducted a transparent, free and fair delegate elections and governorship primaries. Those who lost out in the Party’s Primaries did not leave the party. But in PDP virtually all the disaffected aspirants and their supporters have defected to APC. Jonathan will certainly lose lots of votes in each of these states to Buhari.
Meanwhile, Buhari campaign organization has said that the February 14 Presidential election would be a referendum of the bad leadership of incumbent President Jonathan saying Nigerians will have an opportunity to decide over the president’s incompetent leadership on that day.
This was disclosed in a statement by the Publicity Director of the APC Presidential campaign organization, Malam Garba Shehu.
The campaign organization expressed disappointment with the President, saying that instead of giving his score card, he ends up offering uninformed commentaries on the country’s problems in his campaigns.
The campaign organization said it would love to remind President Jonathan that no amount of anger and fear of losing office as exhibited by him in his campaign outings so far can reverse the tide of the impending change, whose time has come. It said: “President Jonathan should be reminded that the February 14th Presidential election is a referendum on his legislative leadership.”
The campaign organization said instead of telling Nigerians “What he has achieved and what he intends to do differently, the second term seeking President Jonathan spent valuable time reading copiously excerpts from the maiden speech of General Ibrahim Babangida who overthrew Buhari in 1985”.
The statement added that Nigerians do not expect a political commentary from President Jonathan of a nearly 30 year old speech delivered to the nation by IBB.
Also speaking, a Chieftain of the PDP Alhaji Hassan Jalo, on Sunday warned that President GoodLuck Jonathan will lose the February 14th Presidential election so long as he continues to rely on promises made to him by Abuja based Politicians.
He said the ruling Party would be underestimating the strength of the opposition APC at its detriment.
The PDP scribe, who stated this while exchanging views with reporters in Kaduna, said that the ruling Party could only come out victorious from the election by returning to the drawing board and to the grass roots to mobilize for supports from the people.
Hear him, “PDP will fail if it relies on Abuja Politicians because they cannot decide who wins the presidential elections.
The Party must go back to the drawing board and grass roots for it to come out victorious in the 2015 elections. People are defecting in mass from PDP at the grass roots. “APC is a big threat to PDP because it is a formidable opposition. People close to Jonathan don’t tell him the truth. The PDP is in a serious problem if it does not go back to the drawing board and it keeps relying on the Abuja Politicians. If the PDP does not do that I’m afraid anything can happen in the 2015 general elections. PDP is in danger. You see the plain truth is that PDP should not take APC lightly.
“APC is a very strong and formidable opposition Party, and is a threat to PDP. 2015 election will not be like any other elections. Mind you, PDP has lost five formidable state governors. For PDP to lose Kano and Lagos, which are highly populated area, forget it. Kano and Lagos brings the highest votes in Nigeria.
“Any Political Party that can win the North West and South West and get additional votes from North east, North central, North east and South South will win the President.
“Majority of the votes comes from the North west and South west. And look at it that the PDP has lost Kano, North west and Lagos, South west. PDP has messed up by losing Kwara, Adamawa and Sokoto. When you take the Sokoto Caliphate, which comprises of Sokolo, Zanfara and Kebbi, they vote en masse. And even in this 2015 election, they will vote in one direction from the way I’m looking at things. And all this forms part of the North West. In Nigerian Politics, ones you win in the South west and North west, you have won the Presidency because that is where the bulk of the votes come from”, he noted.
Jalo further stated that the South south and the South east do not bring in votes while the votes from North east and North central are divided. “So, the bulk of the votes come from the North West and South West.
Nobody can win the Presidency with the votes of the South-South and South-east”, he said noting that the calculation indicates that the PDP is in a clear danger.
He advised the Party to stop relying on Abuja Politicians and go back to the grass-roots where the votes come from stressing that “you cannot be in Abuja and go to tell Mr. President and the National Chairman of PDP lies that I can win my State. And may be for a year or six months they have not been to their village”.
Those are the Abuja politicians, who only stay in Abuja and go and tell Mr. President they will deliver their state for him only just to get contracts and leave. And those are the people the PDP is relying on. Abuja politicians are the problem of PDP. Mr. President should know that he is deceived. He should tell the PDP National chairman, “let everybody go back to their villages and mobilize for the party”
However, General Buhari has said that Nigerians are dying every day due to the Boko Haram insurgency and President Jonathan’s incompetence. The APC Presidential Flag bearer was reacting to the Defense Headquarters statement that only 150 Nigerians NOT 2000, were killed in Baga, Borno state, in the Boko Haram attacks.
“It is unacceptable to ignore or minimize the deaths of Nigerian citizens because of elections. It is heart breaking”
“Every Nigerian life is sacred. On Bagan, 150 or 2000, every Nigerian life matters. We cannot continue like this. Things must change,” he said.
“Nigerians are dying everyday due to incompetence,” he said.
He added that “we cannot be the country that losses the essence of our humanity, the meaning of empathy.”
“The responsibility of the Nigerian government is to protect and respect the lives of Nigerians, regardless of politics, or elections.
“Beyond the politics, and the rhetoric, ask yourself this. Do you truly want a country where your life is not safe?” Buhari asked.
“We must ask ourselves these questions- how did we become like this? How did we get to this point? What kind of country have we become?”
Buhari wondered why the government can’t protect its citizens thus: “these Nigerians, who have died because our government cannot protect them, they are not politicians.
They deserve better. We deserve better.”
The APC presidential candidate said:”let these thoughts guide us. Let these thoughts speak to us. Let them shape our opinions, our choices. We are better than this.”
On the other hand, President Jonathan has promised to consolidate on his achievements so far and particularly tackle unemployment if re-elected.
He explained that about 1.8 million Nigeria entered the labour market yearly, saying the calculation by the leadership was to provide two million job opportunities in order to check the ugly trend.
The president ruminated over the various challenges facing the nation, nothing that despite the difficulties, the PDP administration still performed well.
He expressed delight at the progress made so far by his administration on the revitalization of the rail system, stressing the renewed effort was intended to providing means of mass transit system to Nigerians at cheap and affordable cost.
He said the PDP deserves the votes of Nigerians because according to him, his administration had fulfilled promises made to the people in 2011.
He said: “We ask for your vote as you did the other time and we remain grateful for your support. We will not deceive you but fulfil promises made to you as part of the pact we have with you.”
However, Buhari will win the twelve states he won in the 2011 elections and secure may be five states in the South-west. He will make gains in the South south and South east where the did not campaign at all in 2011. President Jonathan will be losing votes where he was very secure in 2011.