USA Africa Dialogue Series - Fwd: [NaijaPolitics] CAN APC SURVIVE A LIKELY BUHARI DEFEAT AT THE POLLS? [Nigerian Elections 2015]
Comments (0) | Wednesday, January 28, 2015
From: 'Okenwa R. Nwosu, M.D.' firstname.lastname@example.org [NaijaPolitics] <NaijaPolitics@yahoogroups.com>
Date: Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 7:12 PM
Subject: [NaijaPolitics] CAN APC SURVIVE A LIKELY BUHARI DEFEAT AT THE POLLS?
It may indeed be premature to initiate an autopsy of an electoral contest that is yet to happen in a fortnight or so down the road. There is, however, nothing wrong to speculate over an electoral battle that has stirred up emotions in the Nigerian electorate in unprecedented fashion since kickoff of the 2015 election's campaign season. For obvious reasons, there are no reliable third-party tracking polls to indicate which of the main presidential candidates is ahead of the rest, but there are indices that one can utilize in order to guestimate the likely outcome of the February 14th presidential contest. For the purpose of this exercise, I shall utilize three parameters to help me in deciding which candidate is likely to emerge the overall winner after all the votes are cast and tallied. Partisan formations engaged in the contest, candidates' attributes and other miscellaneous issues shall be reviewed and used as main benchmarks in making the final call regarding the presidential election's outcome.
The two top contending parties in the presidential contest are the ruling party, the PDP and the main opposition alliance, the APC. On February 13, 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC) came into existence as the result of a merger by Nigeria's three biggest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) - and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Rationale for the merger was to build a partisan formation of the size and strength that would be able to take on the ruling party, the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2015 general elections. As the new fledgling partisan alignment was getting its footing, a major organizational crisis hit the ranks of the PDP. Before too long, it became clear that the ruling party's crisis also had something to do with the same 2015 general elections which had caused the emergence of the APC. A rift in the PDP climaxed when a group of state governors and some notable party leaders opted to leave the ruling party and form what was then called the "New PDP". It was presumed, even though there was not a formal declaration, that the incumbent President GEJ was intent on seeking a second term in office; a development which did not settle well with adherents of the New PDP who believed that the PDP presidential ticket should be zoned to the North. Having lost out the argument within the ruling party, the New PDP loyalists defected en masse and joined the nascent APC.
At this juncture, many began to feel that the domineering era for the ruling party, the PDP, was definitely over. Some pundits had severally predicted the eventual implosion of the PDP because of the many internal crises that had rocked its very foundation since its debut in predawn of the 4th Republic in the late 1990's. The PDP was increasingly being blamed by all and sundry for its inability to meet the expectations of a restive Nigerian electorate who have become impatient with the partisan formation seen to be populated by corrupt and indolent politicians. The combination of declining favorability of the ruling party in eyes of the electorate and the self-inflicted internal rifts in ranks of the PDP helped to elevate the profile of the lead opposition party, APC, despite its short-lived existence. The APC rank and file never lacked in confidence as the new opposition party geared itself up to take on the faltering ruling party during the fast-approaching 2015 general elections. Having a large following in the Far North, Southwest geopolitical zone and in the states of Rivers (Southsouth) and Imo (Southeast), the general impression was that the ruling party has finally met its match in the waxing APC.
But the party conventions held to select the presidential flag bearers made all the difference. While remnants of the PDP had no problem in galvanizing their support behind the incumbent President GEJ's reelection bid, the nascent APC had to go through a bruising primary contest during its Lagos convention which ended up with General Muhammadu Buhari as its flag bearer. General Buhari has made 3 previous attempts to run for president but had lost all. But then, he ran under the aegis of smaller partisan formations which never had the size and geographical spread of the emergent APC. In previous outings, the general had made impressive showing in his native Northwest geopolitical zone and contiguous territory where he garnered millions of votes and even won some states. The calculation this time around, at least in minds of some opposition leaders and supporters, is that the new reach offered by the APC in the Southwest and elsewhere may finally tip the table in Buhari's favor.
APC, however, has no shortage of drawbacks which can ultimately affect outcome of the February 2015 general elections. Being a brand new party without any electoral-contest history in its repertoire, some of its members with deep pockets like the former Lagos state governor, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu and others stepped up to practically hijack the APC. The choice of Lagos for the APC national convention and the emergence of General Buhari as presidential flag bearer portend Tinubu's imprimatur in a glaring manner. Tinubu is reported to have since been pressuring General Buhari, despite the fact that the presidential election is still pending, to commit upfront to assigning some oilfields of the Niger Delta and other perks to him as recompense for supporting the latter's bid during the party primaries and for anticipated help to win in the general elections. This revelation has not helped APC's image, at all, as the party of change which promises to do things differently from what allegedly obtains within the ruling party, the PDP. APC is till the new kid in town. Whether it can muster what it would take to match the ruling party toe-to-toe at the polls remains a big question mark.
Candidates' Character, Qualifications & Attributes
Without beating about the bush, it is easy to ascertain that President GEJ, as the incumbent, has better reach within the electorate than the opposition candidate, General Buhari, for obvious reasons. President GEJ also has a psychological edge over his challenger because he had beaten the general once before during the 2011 general elections. General Buhari carries the baggage as a former military dictator who had overthrown a democratically elected civilian government led by former President Shehu Shagari in 1983 – a liability that President GEJ does not have. The APC flag bearer has been accused, among other things, to lack the demeanor required to be at the helm of Africa's largest constitutional democracy. A recent one-hour U Tube video documentary narrating General Buhari's earlier life and career, including his track record as a former Nigerian head of state, has caused tremendous damage to the opposition candidate's image among the general populace. Whether the revelations contained in this unflattering video documentary are enough to seal the fate of APC candidate's presidential hopes is yet to be determined.
There are other sundry issues which can influence voters' decision making during the polls. These range from how the voters feel about their personal wellbeing, security and future prospects as citizens of a nation to be led by whoever wins in the February 14th general elections. The national economy, Boko Haram insurgency, national politics as emblemized by the 2014 National Conference, public sponsorship by institutions, groups and civil society etc have the potential of tilting the voters' decision one way or the other. For sake of brevity, I shall not expatiate further on this parameter despite the important role it might play in influencing voters' choices.
My personal bias in favor of President GEJ's reelection bid is hereby restated.
Based on the summary discourse about the three parameters chosen by me for the purpose of this post, it is becoming clearer that the odds have definitely shifted in favor of President GEJ's reelection bid. It is, particularly, noteworthy that the Pan Yoruba leadership body, Afenifere, came out yesterday to provide a crucial boost to President GEJ's reelection bid. This goes a long way to neutralize the supposed large following that the opposition candidate, General Buhari, has garnered in the Southwest geopolitical zone where Lagos and other states are controlled by APC-affiliated regional parties. As things stand, President GEJ and Buhari may end up dividing votes from the Southwest 50-50 – a possibility which is a departure from previous supposition that the zone would be won handily by the opposition presidential candidate.
From my crystal ball, I see President GEJ winning states of the Southsouth and Southeast handily. I also project that he shall win the majority of states of the Northcentral zone. Buhari is likely to win plurality of votes cast in Northeast and Northwest as he did in 2011, but that shall fall far short in making up for the incumbent President GEJ's lead in total votes. In final analysis, the President's re-election bid looks like a shoo-in from my vantage point, even though it is still two full weeks from the polling day.
This brings me to the question of what shall happen to the nascent opposition alliance, APC, if General Buhari fails again at his 4th presidential bid? The real answer is that nobody knows for sure what shall become of the APC. But if I were wagering, my bet is that the opposition alliance shall likely collapse by breaking up back into its constituent partisan alignments. APC, according to its founders 2 years ago, was coupled together for the primary purpose of taking on the PDP in the 2015 general elections. If the quest to topple the ruling party fails, the natural thing shall be for the opposition amalgam to fracture and break up since there is really no ideological basis for the APC to cohere when no national electoral contests are in view.
Posted by: "Okenwa R. Nwosu, M.D." <email@example.com>
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