As the countdown to march 28 presidential election begins, Ayodeji Ajayi, a media practitioner, assesses the chances of the two leading candidates, President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC)…
Barring any unforeseen development, the long-awaited decisive 2015 general elections to be conducted by the Professor Attahiru Jega-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will hold on March 28, 2015 and April 11, 2015.
It is noteworthy that of all the elections, the presidential election slated for March 28, 2015, from all indications, will be the most competitive, the most challenging and the most intriguing. It also has the characteristics of turning out to be the toughest of all the presidential elections conducted in Nigeria since the return of democratic dispensation on May 29, 1999.
This explains why since INEC formally declared the commencement of political campaigns, Nigeria’s expansive political landscape has been witnessing a lot of heated political activities.
The presidential election is very crucial as it will determine who will direct the affairs of the most populated black African country and Africa’s biggest economy, for the next four years.
It is therefore not surprising that whoever will finally emerge as undisputable winner of the forthcoming presidential election has become an important issue that has been seriously agitating the troubled minds of millions of right-thinking Nigerians with discerning minds, irrespective of political, religious, ethnic or cultural affiliations both within and outside the country. It is also for this particular reason that the presidential election, in particular, as well as the remaining elections is increasingly attracting the interest of the international community.
There is no doubt that the age-long problem of bad leadership at various tiers of government has over the years, been the bane of Nigeria’s development, even after 55 years of independence. This is why Nigerians, most of whom are poverty-stricken in the midst of plenty due to mismanagement of the country’s vast resources and large-scale corruption in high places, especially during the past 16 years, are yearning for good leaders that will hopefully, take the country to the next level from May 29, 2015.
It is strongly believed that if Nigerians can for once, get it right by voting wisely and using their votes to elect a detribalized, focused, dynamic, intelligent, visionary and honest personality as president on March 28, a firm foundation would have been laid to move the nation forward.
This is why Nigerians cannot afford to treat the issue of the forthcoming presidential election with levity. There is the urgent need for eligible voters to troop out in large numbers to cast their votes for their preferred candidates to ensure the right candidate finally emerges winner of what promises to be the most keenly contested presidential election in Nigeria in recent time.
It is also hoped that whoever emerges winner of the presidential election will not only be roundly acknowledged locally and internationally as a product of a fair, free, credible and transparent election but he will also be unconditionally acceptable to majority of Nigerians.
The presidential election will be interesting but the outcome remains largely unpredictable, especially due to the overwhelming influence of each of the two major candidates – President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former military Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is the major opposition party in Nigeria.
Although 14 candidates are in the presidential race but the “men” have since been separated from the “boys”. From all indications, the serious contestants whose participation will make the election to be profoundly lively and highly competitive are Jonathan and Buhari. Whoever ends up having a head ahead of the other in the crucial race in terms of total votes cast will emerge overall winner of the Presidential election.
From all indications, either Jonathan or Buhari has chances of emerging winner but since only one vacancy exists in Aso Rock, it is only one of them, based on the total votes cast on Election Day that can be declared winner by INEC.
However, it is noteworthy that this will not be the first time Jonathan and Buhari would slug it out in a presidential election. In 2011, Jonathan who contested on the platform of PDP won after defeating Buhari who contested on the platform of a very young and weak party – the Congress for Political Change (CPC), now defunct, which he founded. He came second in the election. However, despite the fact that CPC was then less than two years old, it recorded an impressive performance, especially in the North where Buhari beat Jonathan convincingly.
This is why it is strongly believed in certain quarters that since Buhari is currently contesting on a very formidable platform – APC as against tottering CPC in 2011, he would likely record more votes in the North to enable him floor Jonathan there again.
It would be recalled that Buhari is not a new comer when it comes to participation in presidential elections in Nigeria. In the past, he participated in the 2003 election, on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but was defeated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo of PDP. In 2007, he was defeated by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of PDP in a highly controversial election which Yar’Adua himself admitted was flawed and promised to introduce electoral reforms to ensure future elections are credible. It is noteworthy that despite his consecutive losses in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections, Buhari remained undaunted. This perhaps is why he is pursuing his current presidential ambition with uncommon unwavering commitment and unswerving determination. If he wins on February 14, 2015, he will not have only achieved his age-long ambition of directing the affairs of Nigeria as a democratically elected president, but he will also have broken the enviable record of Obasanjo who till date, remains the only past Nigerian leader who had ruled this country as a military head of state and as a democratically elected president.
Millions of Nigerians within and outside the country, as well as the international community are anxiously waiting for the outcome of the presidential election in Nigeria, which obviously will be an energy-sapping electoral contest between Jonathan and Buhari. Both of them are eminently qualified for the topmost job. What will be the outcome of the 2015 election as against the 2011 election between these two notable political juggernauts who command large followerships across the country?
In 2011, Jonathan’s chances were boosted when the South-West States unanimously agreed to vote massively for him despite the fact that Nuhu Ribadu was presidential candidate of the then ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), now defunct. Lagos State alone gave Jonathan of PDP 1.2 million votes of his total votes.
Now, the scenario is different. Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun of APC are likely to vote massively for Buhari. Kwara of APC will likely vote massively for Buhari. Same goes for Edo of APC. But Ekiti and Ondo votes will likely be shared between Jonathan and Buhari being PDP – controlled states. Rivers of APC will likely vote for Buhari while some votes will go to Jonathan. In Rivers, there will be stiff competition for votes for Buhari and Jonathan between Governor Rotimi Amaechi of APC and Governorship candidate of PDP, Chief Nyesom Wike. Many of the Southeastern states which are under the control of PDP will likely vote for Jonathan while some votes will also go to Buhari. Anambra of APGA will likely vote massively for Jonathan following Governor Willy Obiano’s declaration of his party’s support for the President but some votes will still go to Buhari.
Expectedly, Imo of APC which is under the leadership of Governor Rochas Okorocha who is also Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum and governorship candidate of APC in the March 28, 2015 election, will likely vote massively for Buhari.
Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Delta, all of PDP, will likely vote massively for Jonathan but Buhari will still get some votes. Most of the states in the North, including those controlled by APC, will likely vote massively for Buhari but Jonathan will also get some votes.
The true positions of highly influential Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Niger State, Dr Babangida Aliyu and the highly unpredictable Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, are not yet clear to political analysts. Are they on the side of Jonathan or Buhari? Well, time will tell.
Meanwhile, as the clock ticks while the presidential election is fast approaching, the generality of Nigerians are waiting patiently to cast their votes for their preferred candidates. And it is either Jonathan or Buhari. Whoever emerges winner should accept his victory with humility while the loser should also accept his defeat as a responsible sportsman since in such an electoral contest where there is only one vacancy, one contestant will emerge winner. An election is not a do-or-die affair. After every election, there will be a winner and a loser. Whoever is aggrieved should go to election tribunal for redress rather than resort to actions capable of destabilizing the country.
. In view of the importance of the presidential election which has continued to generate a lot of interest among Nigerians and the global community, all the 14 contestants should be provided a level-playing field to operate.
Most importantly, INEC should put in place measures that will ensure all the elections are free, fair, credible and acceptable to majority of Nigerians with discerning minds.