By Dapo Akinrefon
THE long awaited 2015 general elections are at hand. Unlike previous elections, this year’s contests promise to be keenly contested by the respective gladiators across the country.
In the build-up to the primaries for the presidential, governorship, National Assembly and State Houses of Assemblies tickets of the major political parties, a number of intrigues were thrown up, putting to public the increasing sophistication of the Nigerian electorate.
Power brokers in many cases were put to test in their attempts to ensure victory of their chosen aspirants for political offices. In the All Progressives Congress, APC for example, kingmakers who in the past had foisted their preferences on party members were now made to appeal directly to party members in their bid to push through their preferences.
The doggedness of the political machine built by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a successful trial as his favoured aspirant, Akinwunmi Ambode easily got the ticket after his mentor went above the governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to appeal to party members on behalf of Ambode. But not all godfathers were successful. A number of governors were humbled, one of the most prominent, being Governor Martins Elechi of Ebonyi State whose supporters in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP have now resorted to Labour Party to seek political relevance.
As the February elections approach, the power blocs will further manifest themselves as the intra-party intrigues move on to a broader plain as the candidates of the major parties contend with one another.
Indeed, pundits hold the view that the electioneering campaigns will show the stuff the candidates are made of as they traverse the nooks and crannies to canvass for votes from voters.
There is no doubt that they (candidates) will seek the support and backing of these kingmakers, who will throw their weight around to ensure their choice(s) emerge victorious in the elections.
The power brokers are expected to use their political influence and resources to ensure those they back win at the polls.
President Goodluck Jonathan
He is the presidential candidate of the PDP and is also the national leader of the PDP. Every political permutation within the PDP is being made to favour him by the party even to the extent that candidates for other elective positions who it is suspected could drag the president down are being relegated.
Many people are also throwing the name of the president in projecting their aspirations even if falsely.
There was the case of a senator from the South-South who had spread word that the president had asked him to go for the governorship, but who got the jolt of his life when the president rebuked him at a public function telling him that even his return to the Senate was still a probability. In the end the senator neither got the Senate ticket nor the governorship ticket.
Jonathan is also the number one kingmaker in his native Bayelsa State and it is instructive that his influence was brought to bear in the selection of party candidates in National Assembly elections.
Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu
The influence of Asiwaju Tinubu was demonstrated after the presidential primaries of his All Progressives Congress, APC when he was given the offer by the presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari to nominate the running mate.
That honour was largely because of the role Tinubu played in the emergence of Buhari as the candidate of the party even ahead of more organised aspirants like Atiku Abubakar.
Given his prominent role in the politics of the Southwest, Tinubu is in good position to influence Southwest votes in favour of Buhari. It is a scenario that is for the first time putting the PDP in trouble as the prospect of the dominant power losing power for once at the national level looks possible for the first time.
At the regional level, Tinubu’s influence is also being consolidated with all Southwest governors now deferring to him.
Though out of power, he remains one man with a potential to cause mortal danger to the political aspiration of some of the country’s major political figures.
Obasanjo’s power is seen in his capacity to rally political stakeholders from across the different ethnic and political divides in the country and also, to speak out when many others are cowed.
Ahead of the forthcoming general elections, President Obasanjo has had to compare notes with his former political foes remarkably consulting with the likes of Tinubu, Buhari whom he had fought against before now.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the APC is the symbol of the change many of those against President Jonathan are looking up to address the perceived defects and deficiencies in the polity.
Buhari’s influence is defined by the mass hysteria that he stokes among the masses especially in the North. Many political office seekers had in the past ridden on his coattails to political success in the north.
Governor Amaechi is the director-general of the Buhari Campaign Organisation. A former student unionist, Governor Amaechi has been credited with the transformation that has seen in recent perceptions of the candidate even in the dressing of the candidate.
Chief Anthony Anenih
The chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, is expected to provide strategic direction for the campaign to re-elect Dr. Jonathan and also play a major role in pre-election matters that may affect the chances of the PDP in all elections.
He has been a helpful link in ensuring cordiality within the party especially linking the president with the vestiges of the original PDP that remain active in politics.
The 36 state governors have continued to play prominent roles in the affairs of the country since the advent of the Fourth Republic.
Though some of the PDP governors found it difficult putting their feet down during their party primaries, the governors are going to be largely influential in determining the direction of votes in all elections in their states as they pull the levers of incumbency and patronage to push aspiration of their favoured candidates at all levels.