My Layman's View

April 24, 2015

2015 POLLS: The dramatic end of the race

Local representatives of the Nigeria Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) collate figures from the general election in Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria’s southern oil-rich Rivers State, on March 29, 2015. Nigeria’s closely fought general election went into a second day after failures in controversial new technology snarled the polling, including for President Goodluck Jonathan. AFP PHOTO

By Adisa Adeleye

The dreaded 2015 elections have been concluded and the umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had given its final decision.   The results are clear except in the two states of Abia and Imo whose final results remain in abeyance–the election in each state was judged to be inconclusive.

Though General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared the winner of the Presidential contests, the real hero of the March 28, 2015 election was the defeated candidate, the incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan by his exemplary show of statesmanship.   By our standard, that remains a welcome rarity.   Nigeria remains united today by the grace of God and the singular act of courage by a single person who, despite electoral defeat, has shown tremendous courage to save the nation.

It may be necessary, at this juncture when the election high fever is yet to come down, to attempt a simple analysis of events before the electoral saga of March 28th and April 11, 2015.   Many columnists (including the respected ones), perhaps out of shock, have adopted a rather simplistic approach.   Accusing fingers have been pointed at that greatly misunderstood for twice elected President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired army general – without, of course, mentioning the theatrical tearing of his PDP membership card.

However, in the midst of jubilation and gyration of party faithfuls in multi coloured dresses and the sorrowful stance of the election losers, one name remains golden in saving the soul of the country.   President Goodluck Jonathan has turned to be a remarkable Statesman at the crucial moment.

Some weeks before the election proper, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former military Head of State and twice elected President of Nigeria openly tore his PDP registration card to the disgust of party members.   Although, the act of tearing was performed by his ward chairman, the mere act showed that the former army general was not happy with the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).   Chief Obasanjo, during his active political days, had been able to divide the South West ethnic block voters by nurturing the Gbenga Daniels and Fayoses; and by breaking into the sacred Caliphate States of Sokoto and Kebbi; and solicited the sympathy of the Middle-Belt minorities.   The party, PDP was at its nadir between 1999 and 2011. Without Chief Obasanjo‘s impact on PDP‘s electioneering campaigns in 2015, everything appeared to go into the reverse gear.

It appears as if many Nigerians are yet to understand the personality of their former leader who had ruled the country three times.   He was linked with the brief rule of former President, late Yar‘Adua and also, the emergence of Ebele Jonathan as current President.   Yet, he remains totally misunderstood by the party he nourished to greater heights and also, by some politicians he had helped to prominence and financial fortunes.   As late Gen Oluleye, a Yoruba noted that ‘Obasanjo in terms of craft, he looks deceptive, but he can sketch good and bad schemes with equal celebrity.   He is an expert in confrontational tactics”.   That is Obasanjo for you in politics.

Jonathan and Buhari

Jonathan and Buhari

Those who are now blaming Obasanjo for the woes of PDP are strange fellows who are not familiar with the structure of that party and its earlier relationship with the old military junta.

Now to the specific issues that appeared to have shaped the election results in many parts of the country.   It is not only insecurity that has bred the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, but also the constant menace of armed robberies and kidnappings in the South and ritual killings all over the country.   The widespread social cleavages and the rise in religious and ethnic tensions have frightened the minorities in many states and created doubts about a united country, called Nigeria.

The struggle for political dominance among the major tribes (including the Ijaw) is worsening day by day and has put the security of the country in serious danger.   The result of the presidential elections is clear – North West, North East and South West as one block against the South East and South South as another block.   This is the dangerous position that existed before and during the civil war of 1967-1970.   Perhaps those clamouring for a government of national unity have their strong political points.   The idea is to prevent a divided nation.

The economy

It may be that the puzzling economic scenario contributed to the halt of the stormy reign of the PDP from 1999 to March 28, 2015 (the date of presidential and national assembly elections).   The economic indicators were unfavourable to the ruling party.   The unemployment rate of about 29 per cent was too high compared to 3 to 10 per cent in developed economies.   The weakened currency – about N200 to an American dollar and unfriendly cost of funds to domestic industry did not help matters.   Adherence to the policy of relying solely on oil revenue as the mainstay of the economy, and payment of subsidy on imported petroleum products told little favourable tale about wise management of the economy.   Erratic power supply has brought no succor to economy growth.

My thought

It is now being realized, more than any time before, that the country needs unity in an atmosphere of prosperity.   The eyes of Nigerians are now fixed on President Elect, Gen Mohammadu Buhari (rtd), who though not a magician, would be expected to fix the enduring political and economic problems of Nigeria and bring the desired political unity on his attainment of office on May 29, 2015.

On political side, he would be expected to bring Nigerians of diverse tribes and religions together as one to move the country forward.   It is a pity that after the civil war, we seem, like the French Bourbons, to have “learnt nothing and forgotten nothing”.   Every politician sees every opportunity as a means of making good for self and advances the fortunes of his ethnic and religious associates.   The consequence of that attitude is responsible for the growth of mistrusts and hatred among the people.   Also, it has created economic gulf between the rich and the poor in what is now known as a DIVIDED COUNTRY.

It is not too much for Nigeria to seek for unity in diversity and peace and prosperity in a viable and strong polity.   Many are doubtful if heavy responsibilities of the country could be ably carried on the shoulders of a single political party, even if that party is divinely endowed.   It is in the interest of this that politicians in their joy and sorrow would forget temporary political advantages and work for unity and prosperity.