With Uche Nnadozie
Like I pointed out last week, the real issues about what will shape voter’s loyalty come February have began to emerge. Over the weekend reports about the promise of one term made by the PDP presidential candidate, Vice President Atiku Abukabar dominated headlines. That promise in my opinion is a serious and delicate matter that is capable of smothering a bright chance to the presidency. Power sharing arrangement, although not legal, has become a major talking point, deciding factor and convention determining how geopolitical blocs vote during presidential elections. In Atiku’s case, there are evidences of his statements committing to doing one term of four years if elected president in 2019.
Such a promise, if kept will therefore become an equivalence of what the other party, All Progressives Congress, APC will do. If President Muhammadu Buhari wins next year, he is not entitled by law to run again by 2023. That leaves the post open for southerners to vie. And with what I can see, there is no magic that will get the PDP candidate to make such a commitment. It is a difficult proposal, although he made it before he clinched the party’s ticket. When and if he wins the presidential poll, it will be more difficult to get him to commit to such sacrifice. What this means for Atiku’s quest therefore is that one of the zones whose votes he should take for granted no longer look easy. Indeed it will get messier in the days and weeks ahead. On the surface there may appear some peace, but beneath the veil, I can tell you that a lot of political personalities in the South East are not exactly as excited as they were immediately after PDP convention in Port Harcourt.
This explains some of the issues I have raised in many previous articles on this page. Politics is not easy. Democracy, campaign and elections are tough duels with twists and turns. Things don’t just happen because a candidate appears beautiful in the media. This exposes the reason a lot of young people and not so young ones who are new in politics make wild and naïve choices. Or critics like me who stands aside to lament or point out what should have been. Doing what should have been is the real job. Writing about what should have been is the easy part, people should stop thinking it’s as easy as our thoughts. This is why everyone should get involved one way or the other. The journey to rescue Nigeria is a collective one. We all must not run for office but we can be part of the general process. It will aid our understanding of practical politics or even governance then we can make informed opinions or choices.
Let me return briefly to some of the factors I highlighted earlier which will tilt the election to PDP or APC. Although I am confident that Buhari will win the North West, but it is a zone he cannot take for granted. The issues of insecurity which lingered for long in Zamfara and Kaduna is a moot point. For example the governor in Zamfara didn’t do well and I doubt if he has the capacity to do well.
He is of APC and generally Nigerians hold the president liable for security breaches. To make matters worse, the incidences there were not one offs. Even this weekend, there were killings there. Therefore, the people may just wonder whether it is not time to entrust their wellbeing to another faction of the ruling class. Another issue is that of the Shiite movement. Their leader and his wife are still in detention. Processions demanding their release have been met with what I may call highhanded resistance by law enforcement agents. This is apart from several members of the sect that died in the hands of soldiers in Zaria in December 2015 following a lazy confrontation with the chief of Army staff. Their members large as they are may not be excited about a renewal of mandate for the president. It’s a point that PDP will certainly exploit.
The North central have the same issues. In Benue and Plateau states, communal clashes that have left many dead especially this year will form a serious bulwark against APC’s presidential election. Come to think of it, those two states have the largest population in the zone.
They are most likely going to vote PDP. Although PDP won the presidential election in Plateau in 2015; they will repeat the feat in 2019. Kwara and Nasarawa are toss up states in my opinion. They can go either way. Kogi and Niger states are likely to vote APC; while Abuja will vote PDP. The main issue for me in this zone is the percentage of win between the two leading candidates. But these are mere permutations. With human beings you can’t be very sure until the deed is done. Another pressing issue is how quickly APC is able to douse internal conflicts arising from their primaries. PDP has its own internal contradictions all over the place, which it is hiding; however, being the ruling party, it is understandable why APC’s issue attracts more media coverage.
My advice to Atiku is not to be carried away by the euphoria of his primary win. Another one is the childish tantrums from the international magazine called The Economist. This magazine equally predicted that Goodluck Jonathan was going to win the election in 2015. We now know they got it wrong. Atiku’s handlers should quit lying to him with these sponsored “intelligence” surveys, in a bid to make him spend more money. He should be wary of old PDP members who got him through the primary but may treat him how they treated Jonathan as February approaches. The Economist’s regular predictions give them away already. Most of those who will vote do not even know The Economist. And most of them won’t base their judgment on all the economic jargons I hear. Nigerians vote not because they are better off or worse off economically, Nigerians have several other factors that determine how they vote and it defers from zone to zone.