BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR & DAPO AKINREFON
WITH today’s supplementary governorship election in Imo State, the curtains may have been drawn on the 2011 general polls but the implications for a host of contestants and political gladiators remain.
The polls came with a lot of expectations. Deep-seated intra-parties’ squabbles, defections, alignments and re-alignments with otherwise members of political parties drawing political swords against one another, on the platform of opposing parties, indicated that charged electoral battles were in the offing.
Observers were not disappointed. There were upsets here and there and pundits who betted with certainty on the outcome of certain elections lost their bets in many locations.
From the parties’ primaries and prior, the likes of former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar lost out.
Those, who were dealt devastating electoral blows at the polls proper include former Head of State, Maj General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC); Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA); Malam Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Malam Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) among others.
Buhari, Ribadu and Shekarau fought the presidential polls with President Goodluck Jonathan and lost by a wide margin.
Before the polls, the newly formed and Buhari-inspired CPC showed a lot of promise with many northern senators defecting into it. Given the quest by a section of the North to ensure that power returned to the area in 2011 following the controversies that trailed Jonathan’s ambition after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a northerner and who by the PDP constitution was to do two terms, the CPC was expected to gain from the situation and pull some weight. Precisely, it was expected to emerge as the leading opposition party if it came short of winning the presidential polls but it has failed to do so as results of the elections show.
So also was Shekarau’s ANPP. The party had three governors, an encouraging number of federal and state legislators. After the first presidential debates at which Shekarau showed class, pundits upped his rating and primed him to put up a stiff challenge to the PDP. He simply failed to do that. However, the ANPP has retained three states but its collection of federal legislative seats has dwindled.
For Ribadu, his ACN plank, before the polls, was gaining currency in the South-West and was making inroads into other geo-political zones of the country after it became a landing ground for disaffected members of the PDP.
The strength of the parties
* PDP -Presidency, 24 governors, 73 senators, 191 Reps
* ACN- 6 governors, 16 senators, 52 Reps
* ANPP – 3 governors, 7 senators, 20 Reps
* CPC – 1 governor (Nasarawa), 7 senators, 35 Reps
* LP – 1 governor, 3 senators, 8 Reps
* APGA – 1 governor, 1 senator, 2 Reps
* DPP -1 senator
* Accord Party – 4 Reps
* PPN – 1 Rep
At the end of the polls, the performance of the parties especially the leading presidential combatants has raised questions on future political ventures of the candidates
At 69, Buhari will be 73 in 2015 and may be too hold to run for the presidency. His military colleague and former military president, Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who is a year younger, said last week that he would not partake in active politics in 2015 because he would be too old for the rigours of politics then and would elect to be an elderstateaman.
Buhari, perhaps, may be in the same shoes with Babangida, a reason he and his supporters gave the 2011 presidential contest a big push. However, he could only amass 12 million votes, six million more than he polled in 2007.
As he did in his previous attempts in 2003 and 2007, Buhari is not letting go. He has rejected results of the presidential election in the 17 states of South especially those of the South-East and South-South geo-political zones and Abuja. His legal team is putting finishing touches to his petition to stop Jonathan at the tribunal.
If he loses at the tribunal, there are fears that the CPC may not last long in the polity. It has only one governor, 7 senators and 35 Representatives, who in the absence of Buhari may defect to the ANPP or PDP. With little or no political gains, analysts insist that Buhari maybe headed for political retirement. At the governorship election the Daura Prince could not deliver Katsina State to CPC.
Electorally, the ACN did well in the 2011 polls. It has gained more electoral grounds in the polity with six governors, 16 senators and 52 Representatives, making it the leading opposition party in the country. But the same may not be said of Ribadu, the presidential candidate.
At the presidential polls, Ribadu lost in Lagos, which is considered the heart of ACN’s broom revolution. He even lost his home state of Adamawa. His saving grace is Osun, where Governor Rauf Aregbesola ensured the state was delivered to the ACN.
Sources said that Ribadu, who felt betrayed by top leaders of the ACN may defect to the CPC, where he is said to enjoy affinity with Buhari.
Ribadu is not leaving our party – ACN
But leaders of the ACN have described as untrue media reports that its Ribadu was planning to dump the party for the CPC.
In a telephone interview, National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said Ribadu had no plans to leave the party.
Mohammed said, “to the best of my knowledge, it is not true that our presidential flag bearer, Malam Nuhu Ribadu has plans to leave the ACN. Ribadu in his own time will speak on the matter. But to the best of the party’s knowledge, it is not true that Ribadu wants to leave the ACN. The so called talks that they said he had with the Congress for Progressive Change is not true.”
Unlike his Adamawa State elder colleague, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who quit the ACN (then Action Congress) after flying its presidential flag in 2007, Ribadu is younger and may have a better future in ACN. Relatively new in politics, he may elect to play the loyal party man, remain in ACN and learn the ropes, which experience will be invaluable for the 2015 episode.
Even if he doesn’t go for the presidency in 2015, he may be in a prime position to go for the governorship or senatorial seat on the plank of the ACN and make a huge impact. The ball, as they say, is in Ribadu’s court. It is to be seen how he would elect to play it.
The two-time governor of Kano State may be considered one of the biggest flops of the 2011 polls. Not only did he lose the presidential election on all fronts, he could not deliver Kano State in any of the elections.
Although his ANPP won three states, seven senate and 20 House of Representatives seats, Shekarau’s dismal performance at the polls leaves a question mark on his future political path. The retired teacher may have to return to the drawing board to restrategise for 2015.
Then, Dr. Musa Rabiu Kwakwanso, whom he succeeded and who will be succeeding him will be finishing his second term as governor of Kano. It will afford him and his ANPP faithful a chance to attempt a return to the Kano Government House because as of now, the ANPP does not seem set to play effectively at the national level.