BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR
IT is an unusual suspense that many political stakeholders may not have bargained for. That is, the inertia that has suddenly gripped the Nigerian political class nine months to a decisive presidential election.
The most visible aspirant and incumbent office holder, President Goodluck Jonathan has himself cut off his covert political consultations and mobilisations framed in the form of zonal rallies of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Sense it seemed, was crystallised on the party with the outpouring of condemnations that trailed the party’s last rally in Kano on April, 15 just 24 hours after a motor park in Nyanya was bombed, and hours after more than 276 girls were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
It was as such remarkable that when the All Progressives Congress, APC flagged off its gubernatorial campaign for the Ekiti State gubernatorial election penultimate Thursday, that the PDP threw back the words of insensitivity at the opposition party.
President Jonathan who was supposed to hand over the PDP flag to its candidate in Ekiti, Ayo Fayose the day before the APC flag off, pulled back and forced the campaign event to be pushed forward by one week. The rescheduled date passed yesterday and the event did not hold, and as at press time no date has been fixed for the event.
With the spate of insecurity and an estimated 276 Nigerian girls under the captivity of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, political momentum is inevitably being dictated by the group. It is no surprise that some have said that Dr. Jonathan is in government, but Boko Haram is in power.
With worldwide scathing criticisms of the president and his delayed response to the abduction of the Chibok girls, it is not surprising that Dr. Jonathan is now devoting every ounce of his energy to find the girls.
Returning the Chibok girls alive and ending the insurgency would be crucial in determining Dr. Jonathan’s viability as a candidate in the forthcoming presidential election.
It is not as if that would doom his chances of winning the party’s presidential ticket. With the exit of the five former PDP governors and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to the APC last November, only Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State had looked like a rival to Jonathan for the PDP ticket. But Lamido has recently backed out affirming earlier this week that he did not “see a conducive environment to declare my aspiration.”
Also, suggestions that Dr. Jonathan may drop out of the contest in deference to critics who say he has underperformed or breached agreement on the rotation of the presidency may be far-fetched, but not impossible.
It is as such generally assumed that he remains the presumptive candidate of the ruling party.
However, the APC which many expect to provide the strongest opposition to Dr. Jonathan or the PDP is itself now gripped in serious birth pangs.
The party is set to hold a national convention in two weeks time with the election of a new set of national officers. The influx of five former PDP governors into the party has changed what was previously considered a good working political partnership between the party’s national leaders, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
The APC governors who between them control 16 states were able to muscle one of their own, Governor Aliyu Wamakko to lead the Convention Planning Committee, CPC and another of their former colleague, Senator Chris Ngige as secretary despite the earlier permutations of Tinubu and Buhari.
Indications are that the governors and the pair of Buhari and Tinubu are moving towards a convergence on the choice of a national chairman which may paper over whatever differences they may have for now.
However, when it comes to the issue of the presidential ticket, it could well turn into another high stakes game.
Though associates dismiss it, Buhari and Tinubu are alleged to have an agreement to run on a joint ticket, which if it true could seriously stretch the enlarged opposition party.
How the opposition party manages the different political aspirations of its major stakeholders for ascendancy would in no small way prove the capacity of the party to fight off the PDP in the main presidential election.
Already to the advantage of the PDP and its presumptive nominee, Jonathan, is the timetable for the election as released by INEC. The timetable has placed the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 14, 2015 ahead of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections on February 28, 2015.