By JIDE AJANI, Editor, NORTHERN OPERATIONS
This report examines the presidential candidates who are likely to run away with the votes and those whose pretence to the contest would only render some votes wasted on account of the meaninglessness of the participation of their candidates of choice.
By no means a castigation of the ambition of some presidential candidates, it’s very clear in some instances that a blind man would see just as a leper would feel the natural defeat that would be the portion of some contestants.
It is no longer fiction.
But it still carries its imprimatur.
Just imagine: After the hue and cry of the Northern Political Leaders’ Forum, NPLF, about the need to adhere to the principle of zoning in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, its consensus candidate came a very distant second at the PDP presidential contest – President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan scored 2, 736. That is the nature of elections in Nigeria where the power of incumbency and a clique will always go a long way in determining and shaping contests.
Or, yet considered: How many contestants battled to get the presidential ticket of a political party like the National Transformation Party, NTP.
For the April presidential elections, there have already emerged seven presidential candidates among whom are natural front runners and optimistic pretenders to the contest:
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN
General Muhammadu Buhari, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC
Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP
Dele Momodu, National Conscience Party, NCP
Prof. Pat Utomi, Social Democratic Mega Party, SDMP
John Dara, National Transformation Party, NTP.
Now, of these seven, it would be clear to the discerning that the race is between front runners and under dogs.
As It Was In The Second Republic
Not even in the Second Republic when there were five political parties was the wide disparity between those in front and those at the rear of the contest been so obvious.
During the Second Republic, the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, was the leading party. It won seven of the 19 states. Then came the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, with five states. The Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP, won three states. The Great Nigeria Peoples Party, GNPP, and the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, made away with two states each.
As It Is Today
Today, the PDP has 27 states in its kitty. The All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, which used to have seven states at the beginning of the Fourth Republic has been reduced to just having three states as a result of electoral defeat and defection.
The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, to day has four states owing to electoral victory at the polls and in the law courts which overturned some results in its favour.
Labour Party, LP, has just one state.
All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA has one state.
Peoples Progressive Alliance, PPA, which kicked off this tenure in 2007 with two states have lost both to the PDP.
The Front Runners…
In determining how the presidential race would go, it needs no telling that the PDP, with its 27 state governors towers above the rest.
But, what a minute; there is a revolution, both silent and loud that is going on.
For the candidate of CPC, Buhari, his near fanatical supporters from the north are swelling by the day.
In fact, some politicians who lost out in the congresses of both the PDP and the ANPP have been defecting to CPC in droves because it is believed that that is the party to beat – at least in the north.
For that reason, Buhari earns the status of a front runner.
Then there is the revolution being wrought by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the capone of the ACN.
After serially rubbing the nose of the PDP in the mud in the South West geo-political zone, Tinubu and his ACN continue to wax strong in the polity.
Its presidential candidate, Ribadu, is a household name.
For his great works as Nigeria’s anti-corruption czar who gained global acclaim, Ribadu is a natural front runner.
But between Buhari and Ribadu somebody might give.
This is because there is yet on-going merger talks between ACN and CPC.
It is yet uncertain where this would lead but in the event that both parties agree to a merger or an alliance, either Buhari or Ribadu would have to dump his presidential ambition.
In that case, then a mix of ACN and CPC would make for a very formidable opposition to the PDP.
When the seeming expansionist tendency of the ACN in the South West, South South and the South East is interfaced with the growing popularity of the CPC in all the northern states, then PDP would be in for a run for its support.
In any event, whoever emerges between Buhari and Ribadu would stand a big chance of creating some difficulties for President Jonathan and his PDP.
Yet, Shekarau’s ANNP would not want to be consigned to the realm of being a pushover. This is because there are splattered support for the ANPP across the country, getting a few hundreds here and snatching a few hundred votes there. Perhaps, what actually continues to make the ANPP relevant is one sheer factor: That apart from the PDP, it is the only other political party that was registered in 1998 and which still stands – at least with its three state governors in tow.
Now, the underdogs…
But then again, there are pretenders to the presidential contest.
Take, for instance, the NTP’s John Dara. With a massive fine print for a bill board in the Maitama District of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, in front of an equally well finished duplex, there is, perhaps no other bigger sign of the intention of the political party to win April’s presidential elections.
But if you think Dara does not know what he is in for, all you need do is understand that he is not new to presidential contests or any contest for that matter.
Then there is Dele Momodu, the successful publisher of Ovation, the international magazine. The success in publishing a magazine can by no means be compared to the world of presidential contest. But Momodu is already in it and claims to be sure of victory.
He originally wanted the ticket of the Labour Party but has switched to the National Conscience Party founded by the late Gani Fawehinmi. It was too easy for Momodu to get the ticket.
Professor Pat Utomi is the candidate of the SDMP, an amalgam of some rusty political parties still intent on hoisting the flag of progressive and ideals driven politics.
How this sudden political party which emerged less than five months ago after years of an attempt at mobilizing an opposition platform of major political parties hopes to win the general election remains to be seen. In that party are strong pillars of support and belief – Chief Olu Falae and Utomi himself.
But how they hope to make it in this money infested contest remains to be seen.
Then there is the other issue of logistics and mass mobilization of supporters.
These parties may be able to muster crowds of supporters here and there, their campaigns may be no more than mini rallies.