MOREOVER, the economy is so bad that youth could be enticed with money to follow the highest bidder. This could work in otherc limes but not in Nigeria. GEJ and Ribadu share almost same youth enthusiasm if the internet furor is anything to go by. But GEJ looks more of a mainstream politician.
Another very important factor against Ribadu is the incumbency factor. No Nigerian president has ever lost a second term. Shagari won second term in 1983 and Obasanjo won his own re-election is 2003. Even though GEJ did not stand an election in 2007 as the main candidate, but now he is the incumbent.
In Nigeria, incumbents have many advantages over their political adversaries. First of all, incumbents have access to unlimited and unregulated campaign funds. The country’s unlimited resources are there for GEJ to spend as much as he wants during campaigns. He also can auction Nigeria out to the highest bidder.
By this I mean that he has unlimited power to share oil blocks and contracts to win political support even from his arch-rivals. He can also use the trappings of office and the ‘bully pulpit’ to stifle all oppositions.
The state-owned radio and television media would sing his praise all day. Also the army of sycophants would buy up spaces in both the print and electronic media to drum support for GEJ. On top of that, many politicians that want to curry favour from GEJ would contribute immensely to support his campaign. Even corporate organisations are not left out.
Many of them would bundle money for GEJ. In politics, that quid pro quo or ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ is always there. This was manifested in the just concluded PDP presidential primaries where the state governors and National Assembly members negotiated with GEJ to support their quest for second term in exchange for their support and that of their states and constituency delegates.
Politicians also see politics as investments. The question you ask yourself is whether they can bet their money with GEJ or with Ribadu?
A business man puts his money where he expects an instant dividend and not where he is unsure of a good turnover. Ribadu can only use his reputation or goodwill for whatever it is worth to appeal to mostly Nigerians living abroad who cannot constitutionally register to vote or vote in any election. He also enjoys immense support of idealist and that of the youth.
Most Nigerians living abroad and the youths are even divided between GEJ and Ribadu. Also most state governors in the PDP-controlled states and even in the ones in some non-PDP controlled states are ready to back GEJ so long as he does not interfere with their own affairs as did OBJ.
Another important factor militating against Ribadu is the fact that the opposition is not united. Buhari would not step down for Ribadu for them to present a common front, even though Buhari cannot win any national election outside his Northern comfort zone. In politics, you cannot win against the ruling party if you cannot maintain the discipline and teamwork that oppositions are known for all over the world.
It was reported that the PDP prevailed on Prof. Maurice Iwu’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC) to register legion of political parties in order to water down opposition to the PDP. The adage ‘divided we fall’ is still relevant as the opposition are so divided that they cannot even muster a common strategy to win even local elections let alone the general election and cannot even present a common developmental programme should they win the election.
Finally, as the adage would say: “I rather be lucky than right”, many write off the issue of luck in the affairs of men. Former Vice President Al Gore spent his whole life preparing to be president of the United States. He did everything right, kept himself out of scandal or trouble to the extent of being a “Mr Clean”, however, a bumbling but lucky George W. Bush came and defeated him, and that was at the time that the US economy was great under President Clinton and Al Gore.
People took for granted the economic stability of the United States and were ready to gamble with George Bush. So you don’t wish away the element of luck and the special grace of God in human affairs. God would have chosen the bigger and more mature brothers of King David, but he rejected all of them and chose David who was not even in the radar of the kingmaker, Samuel. GEJ is the luckiest person to be president of Nigeria and I dare say that barring unforeseen circumstances, he would not just defeat Ribadu but defeat him convincingly.
GEJ is the most under-estimated politician in the country. People should go and ask Alhaji Atiku Abubakar about his experience. If GEJ could beat Atiku in his own game, I dare say that Ribadu is a lesser adversary. But as they say, in politics anything is possible.
Mr. CHUKWUDI NWOKOYE writes from Maryland, USA.