I had decided not to write about the political situation in Nigeria as general elections close in, but I guess I couldn’t help my fingers when it picked my phone for some QWERTY time, especially after news that Sri Lankan President MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA lost the election that would’ve seen him in office for an unprecedented third term in office, filtered in.
Rajapaksa, had been in power for a decade, and was praised by many for bringing an end to the insurrection by the TAMIL TIGERS, hence the election was considered a walkover for him, considering that opposition to his intention to remove limits on presidential terms for which he was poised to be the sole beneficiary failed in parliament. He was sailing smoothly until one of his ministers resigned to contest against him, and even at that MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA wasn’t going to be a threat until members of the President’s party began to defect in large numbers and across board, accusing him amongst others of corruption and nepotism. At the end of the day, Sirisena won with 51% of the votes (with the Tamils almost voting en block), and has been sworn in as the new President of Sri Lanka.
Months back, only a few would’ve been in doubt about President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s (GEJ) reelection. Infact years back a People’s Democratic Party chairman, proclaimed that the PDP will rule Nigeria for a hundred years. That man could not even see out his term, as he was brought down by corruption allegations!
The opposition have since the restoration of civilian rule prosecuted the attempt to dislodge the ruling PDP haphazardly as individual parties, or largely uncommittedly in mergers, hence the audacity of Jonathan’s Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs in stating that the All Progressives Congress, APC (an amalgam of two and a half opposition political parties) will disintegrate sooner than it was formed, but should the contrary subsist, he should be called a BASTARD. He is now referred to as Dr. Bastard in some quarters!
Much of Nigeria’s private and media organizations are located and/or headquartered in its South, and controlled also mainly by same, of which many of the CEO’s includes politicians from the same area, especially the South-West, hence when General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military Head Of State, won the primary elections to become APC’s candidate, they threw all they had behind him to help rehabilitate his oft battered image. The PDP simply dusted the old propaganda machine which had helped them defeat Buhari thrice in the past, only to be vigorously met on the other side by the vociferous voice, not only of the opposition but by the multitude of citizens, disgruntled with the way government has been run by the PDP since 1999 and especially since Goodluck Jonathan became president, on social media, that have now come to be known as “e-warriors”.
The PDP has since then conducted its propaganda war in ways that could be described as analog (like in the replacement of the date on one of Nigeria’s foremost newspapers with JONATHAN instead of JANUARY), compared to APC’s digital (where the February date for the election has been funkified to read as “FeBUHARI”). As with Sri Lanka’s former ruling party, many of the PDP’s bigwigs have since decamped to the opposition APC, including the Speaker of the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, even the former chairman and one of the founding fathers of the PDP after he failed to win primary elections to retain his senatorial seat. So have governors, mainly from the North, prompted initially by the so called CHIEF SERVANT of Niger State, who set others on the run but quickly returned to his vomit in the PDP (interestingly, posters of his contesting for senatorial have appeared with Buhari of the opposition APC featured as presidential candidate), as well as many legislators.
At a time President Jonathan (a Southern Christian from Nigeria’s oil producing Niger Delta) is seen to appear weak and clueless, in dealing the insurgency in the North East (the emergence and sponsoring of which he has repeatedly blamed on elders, politicians and elite of the North, in an attempt to make Nigeria ungovernable for him) a deadly blow, like Rajapaksa did in Sri Lanka, in the face of mounting economic woes brought on by the fall in price of crude, occasioned by the glut in the oil market, with America’s new found love in SHALE OIL, that has led it to abandon Nigeria’s BONNY LIGHT; unsolved cases of corruption in the Augean stable that’s the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation – NNPC, Police Pension Fund scandal, countless missing funds of which some showed up in many countries including South Africa allegedly meant for purchase of arms illegally to prosecute the war against Boko Haram in the North-East, amongst many others which the president had elected in his wisdom to see as STEALING and not CORRUPTION, for which he had received some shellacking from former President Obasanjo severally, even making former Head Of State, General Babangida, during whose regime corruption (as we now know it) was said to have been birthed, to declare that his regime was SAINTLY compared to what obtains today. With depletion of the external reserves and a staggering and mounting debt profile just less than a decade after the regime of Obasanjo paid off a substantial amount, and had some of it “forgiven”, more Nigerians by the day are now beginning to ask for CHANGE.
Unfortunately, what Jonathan would love for all to see, including road, bridges, and other infrastructure built under his watch (which many consider to be over-priced), revamping of rail transportation (considered by many to be refurbished locomotives and not at par with what is currently obtainable in the country of origin of the contractors handling the project), building of schools especially AL-MAJIRAI SCHOOLS in the North (and yet Nigeria remains rated as the country with the highest number of OUT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN, even behind many nations “at war”), the setting up of new universities in nine states (which many consider glorified secondary schools, when the existing ones remain grossly underfunded, and should probably have been expanded), the AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION for which the president snapped a picture of himself standing beside a groundnut pyramid (which was just a few feets higher than him, compared to the groundnut pyramids in the sixties that could compete for size with the pyramids at Giza in Egypt), amongst many others which the president and his aides reel out at every given opportunity, isn’t what some people are seeing or even talking favourably about.
On the other side, it hasn’t been rosy either, even with the overhauling of Buhari (a Northern Muslim), with a twitter handle and Facebook account, transforming the reclusive Buhari into an outgoing, play attending, even club going chap, in suit, in selfies and photoshoots, but getting lampooned by the ruling party as “an old wine in a new bottle”, while practically throwing the kitchen sink at him. For many, Buhari simply appears out of the blues to contest elections every four years, they consider him a religious bigot based on some comments he wasn’t diplomatic enough to make in the past, or his silence (barely condemning, in the immediate aftermath) following the killing of innocents by many of his supporters after he lost the last elections, in some parts of the North where he has a cult-like following (garnering twelve million votes with a ragtag party he formed just weeks before the last presidential elections), even in declaring that the blood of DOGS AND BABOONS will flow in the coming election if they turned out not to be FREE AND FAIR (interpreted by many of his supporters to mean a loss) hence the palpable fear in many quarters of impending doom following the elections, the likes of such that may fulfil the prediction of an American tink-tank, that Nigeria will disintegrate along religious and ethnic lines in 2015.
Even Buhari’s anti-corruption mantra has been repeatedly bashed by the PDP, which in recent campaigns have warned that the electorate should be wary of a Buhari who will not look back in hurling to prison those he considers to be corrupt without due process, pointing to his antecedents as a military Head Of State, while the discerning wonder as to how Buhari could pull the anti-corruption stunt when his party is also filled with politicians whose corrupt lives are open before all to see, even when no one has come out with no evidence whatsoever to prove that Buhari himself had at any time corruptly enriched himself. Others find distasteful, the possibility of Buhari’s ascension to the presidency with the backing of the STRONGMAN of South Western politics and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as an attempt by the latter to extend his fiefdom to the federal, at a time they feel the PDP should wrest power from the ruling APC in Lagos to free Nigeria’s commercial capital from the tentacles of Tinubu.
So far, the politicians on all sides of the divide are throwing everything into the ring to ensure victory for their side, and the gloves have been taken off, confusing the electorate such that you’d find one supporting Goodluck in the morning, then on Buhari’s side in the evening. Even the clergy aren’t spared, with both parties going at each other’s neck after one prophet made a vague and ambiguous prophecy that conceded the outcome of the elections outrightly to none of the contending parties, to the recent homily by the prominent Catholic priest, Reverend Father Mbaka who within weeks of showering praise on the incumbent, when the latter’s wife paid him a visit, made a complete U-turn in his recent message themed: “FROM GOODLUCK TO BAD LUCK”, encouraging his flock to insist on “change”, for which many now feel that it won’t be long before the PDP will muster a prophet of similar calibre and standing, if not more to make proclamations also, in their favour.
In the midst of all the noise, is the umpire, the INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION, INEC which after months of preparations are yet to ensure that ALL registered eligible voters have yet to collect their PERMANENT VOTER CARDS, PVC’s and with time running out, seemingly looking to ensure that many of those voters be disenfranchised from exercising their rights as citizens to determine who leads them, or more appropriately in the Nigerian context, who RULES them. Interestingly, most of the states affected are core opposition states controlled by the APC, where even for instance, the Lagos State governor couldn’t find his PVC at some point.
Nigerian General Elections have been marred with violence since independence, and rigging has always been the order of the day, even when it isn’t obvious or visible. The campaigns currently going on haven’t been devoid of violence, as seen with the shooting of APC supporters in Rivers State days back, and the burning of Jonathan’s campaign buses in Jos yesterday, with the atmosphere of fear in the North that has made it difficult for anyone to openly campaign for Jonathan’s candidature even in PDP controlled states.
The fear now is that disgruntled elements look to be poised to forment trouble either way, if results don’t go their way. There’s talk that Niger Delta militants will resume hostilities (now better armed with slush funds from the centre) and cripple Nigeria’s mainstay should Jonathan lose the elections, while many posit that the insurgency in the North-East will take a more dangerous direction should Buhari lose the elections, only time will tell.
Besides, the front runners afore-mentioned, there are also other presidential candidates, including a woman, but I have intentionally not mentioned them because not much is expected from them electorally, but it soothes the mind that the list is long, maybe, just maybe the electorate will look beyond the well entrenched parties, to others for an electoral upset, in the future though, as this particular game is already set between the two frontrunners.
So, Valentine’s Day, 2015 is when it is all expected to go down. Maybe, I’ll be able to update this, maybe not, but I hope I’ve been able to give you an idea of the situation ahead of the elections, in so few words.
2. @AdeolaAjibabi’s Twitter Handle