Saturday, March 29, 2014

Read Dele Momodu's The Anatomy of PDP and APC [ @DeleMomodu ]

Let me start by thanking you for understanding and accepting the reason for my interlude last week. It was due to circumstances beyond my control. As I was saying two weeks ago before we were crudely jolted out of our thoughts by the unfortunate calamity that claimed some of our young job applicants, 2015 is going to be a year of serious political tension in our dear country. The battle will be fought on many fronts. While I do not possess the power of clairvoyance, it is clear to any discerning mind that the politicians will do everything possible to set our country ablaze next year purely on selfish grounds.
The stakes are just too high for the gladiators. They will throw everything into the ring and the rest of the people shall be at the mercy of God to survive the fire which threatens to consume us all.

The tell-tale signs are already there. Nothing is hidden again about what we should expect. It is going to be a fight-to-finish. Sorry if I sound like a prophet of doom, but truth must be told. The reason is that the major contenders for the Presidential trophy are very desperate...

The man who currently holds the crown is not about to give up his prize so easily. Those who wish to dethrone him are also not going to take things lying low.

On a personal note, I’m under no illusion to think it would be easy to take on President Goodluck Jonathan and sack him from office. Defeating an incumbent President is not a common phenomenon in Africa. The Presidents here usually wield the stick and dangle the carrot simultaneously. They know when to use one or the other or both. The President controls the security forces, appoints the electoral officers, installs the judges and influences the media. There are not many people in our land who can resist the lure of being close to Mr President, albeit temporarily. A simple invitation to dinner is enough to make our celebrities jump up and scamper into their Xmas best. It does not matter if their hopes would be dashed from the gates where they would be security-screened like refugees begging for food. Where they succeed in partaking of the Presidential banquet, you can be sure nothing concrete would be discussed about progress for Nigeria but who knows what might come to the pocket out of that auspicious chance.

The Presidential team understands this game too well and exploits the difficulties of these desperate times to manipulate the people. Can you blame them? An average Nigerian lives on hope. It is the oxygen that makes him breath. Examples abound of former co-travellers and fellow-sufferers in the struggle who abandoned ship and made it big from jamming luck in joining the right political train. This is what fuels the dream that yours too will soon come in grand style. And the world shall hear your name across the oceans. It is a world of unending fantasies and phantasmagoria. The President’s job has been made easier by the National Conference debacle currently unfolding in Abuja.

The way it all stands is that PDP is poised to present President Jonathan without any shade of doubt. The PDP primary is going to be a rubber-stamp and a coronation at once. They are not about to leave certainty for uncertainty. Ideally Jonathan’s re-election would have been an easy walkover but not anymore. He now has many forces to contend with. The first is lack of physical development or visible performance on ground. Four years are more than enough for a serious and determined government to set a new tone and tempo for true transformation or transfiguration. What we have witnessed is too much movement but so little motion.

Secondly, he has also brought the roof crashing down by not trudging along the path of frugality that was laid by his dearly departed boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The simplicity of his boss was hurriedly jettisoned for a psychedelic style of governance. Naira began to rain as we created a new set of oil sheikhs in a nation in dire need of massive overhaul.

Thirdly, the President’s inability to deal concretely with the grave security threats and everyday carnage may turn out to be his major albatross. The spate of killings and magnitude of wasted lives would haunt any government in normal climes. The barrage of excuses has become mere cliché; boring and predictable. Security problems require multi-prong approaches. We are yet to know or see the effective blueprint of this government to tackle the scourge. The spectre of violence is spreading across the nation, slowly and steadily. The dimension it has reached is alarming and worrisome.

The fourth problem the President now has to face is how to neutralise the combined strength of the new opposition called APC. He can no longer gloss over the danger they pose to his second coming. As a scientist, I’m sure the President understands that politics is a game of numbers. Whosoever is able to mobilise the largest numbers of the electorate will carry the day. Relying on election rigging is becoming obsolete and increasingly difficult. Social media and mobile telephony are breaking down those walls that aided electoral malfeasance in our recent past.

It is a known fact that the APC has a commanding presence in some of the biggest states in Nigeria today. They include Lagos, Kano, Oyo, Sokoto, Osun, Ogun, Kwara, Edo, Borno, Adamawa, Nassarawa, Rivers, Ekiti, Imo, Yobe and Zamfara. These states combined should give the President sleepless nights because a few of them can individually cancel out four or more of his supposedly loyal states in terms of numerical strength. Lagos and Kano alone can obliterate whatever supremacy the President currently enjoys in the South South region. I’m certain the President would have the national spread required but that may not be enough to re-elect him. How he handles Kano and Lagos in particular will affect his odds.

APC on its part should not be under any illusion that victory is going to come on a platter of gold. How it arrives at its Presidential candidate and who the candidate is will affect its chances. Primaries, selection or consensus, may well break the backbone of the Party if the right method is not adopted.

All manner of permutations as to the choice of candidate have emerged since my last write-up on this issue. I’ve been inundated with calls by those who feel I wrote off some potential and powerful candidates. For example, while I was thinking both Buhari and Tinubu may sacrifice their interests and support younger and more attractive candidates, I’ve been told that it is not likely to be so in reality. As a matter of fact, very credible analysts believe the only combination that can scare the daylight out of President Jonathan is the risky but fearsome combination of General Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The argument of this school of thought is tempting but tough to swallow. Buhari is believed to represent a cult figure in the North West while Tinubu is similarly believed to be the most singularly powerful force in South West Nigeria. These two regions are expected to deliver humongous votes and thus require two candidates who can secure maximum votes possible. Further, it is assumed that the Yoruba may not vote passionately if there is no Yoruba candidate on the ballot paper.

The antithesis of this, according to those opposed to the gamble, is that Buhari is too old to govern a country as versatile and complex as Nigeria at this time and age. They believe the world has advanced so much since Buhari left power in 1985, nearly 30 years ago. They wonder how he would be able to relate and communicate with the new kids on the power block. Two, they believe his health is too frail and that Nigeria may be risking a repeat of President Yar’Adua’s situation when his health collapsed under intense pressure. Three, they believe Buhari’s anti-corruption credentials have been polluted and compromised by the company he keeps nowadays. Four, they argue that most people see Buhari as a religious fanatic and even if it is untrue the misconception would not be easily laundered in the space of a few months. Five, they reason APC cannot afford to risk a Muslim-Muslim ticket as it is obvious Jonathan understands how to play the religious card well. Six, they think just as Buhari and Tinubu are very influential they share polarising attributes that may work against them.

Next is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He’s believed to be eyeing a Christian Vice President, considered to be a better strategy than those canvassing for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. The names under consideration include Governors Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole and Rochas Okorocha. The argument in favour of Amaechi is that he is young, articulate and brave; and that he made the APC alliance possible. The 2015 election is like a war and it requires fighters like those aforementioned names. The arguments in Atiku’s favour are still the same. One, that he’s much younger than Buhari. Two, that he was Vice President of Nigeria for two consecutive terms and he is more current about Nigeria and the world than Buhari. Three, that he showed an uncommon ability to recruit, and nurture, the brightest brains in his office when he was Vice President. Four, that he has the widest grassroots’ network in Nigeria today inherited majorly from his mentor Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. Five, that the North East where he comes from has been marginalised for too long and this should be a payback time for them. Six, that Atiku is less polarising. Seven, that he has wives from the North and the South and this gives him better acceptability.

But those who don’t want Atiku are arguing furiously against him. One, they claim he lacks principle as demonstrated by the manner he’s been crossing from one party to another. Two, that at over 60, he’s also too old to govern a modern Nigeria. Three, that he has been an integral part of the corruption that has crippled Nigeria. Four, that the North East cannot deliver heavily on votes and Boko Haram has totally decimated the region.

Next is the big masquerade, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal. His name is sizzling hot in APC circles but no one has yet seen his hands or face in the arena. Sooner or later, he would have to unveil his aspirations and tell the world his plans. According to impeccable sources, Tambuwal is a sure banker who seems to enjoy the blessing of the troika, Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, who feel Nigeria needs such a level headed young man who can unify the country at this difficult period. His extensive network in the National Assembly is considered a big bonus. He’s also said to be eyeing a Christian from the South as his Vice President and may have settled for Amaechi if his political godfathers, Tinubu in particular, agree to that configuration.

The intrigues are building up and the next aspirant is the hardworking Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso. Rabiu’s biggest asset is the way he has transformed the state he governs. Again, he and Amaechi have been hanging together a lot but nothing is certain yet. The argument against him is that he lacks that national spread which may be difficult to achieve in less than one year.

The only Southerner bold enough to aspire to the number one slot is the voluble Governor of Imo, Rochas Okorocha. He’s popular, energetic and performing to the admiration of many. But it is doubtful if APC would want to field a Southern candidate against Jonathan.

There are several other fringe potential candidates. One of them is Dr Bukola Saraki who’s yet to tell if he will run again like he attempted in the past. Whatever happens, Mallam Nasir El Rufai is nicely waiting in the wings for Buhari’s decision. If Buhari says he’s not running today I’m sure Nasir will throw his hat in the ring. He’s likely to pair up with a prominent member of his tag team, Mrs Oby Ezekwezili at the right time. They both have the biggest chance of igniting a passion and revolt in first time voters, especially our disillusioned and disenfranchised youths.

The epic continues…