With Hameed braimah
FORMER Head of State General Mohammadu Buhari on Thursday December 11, 2014 emerged winner of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Presidential Primaries.
By that victory which he secured at the expense of four other contenders to the ticket including incumbent Governor of Kano State Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso who scored a total vote of 974 came second against the retired general‘s 3,430 votes.
Multibillionaire former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar who has since 2007 bided to rule over the country unsuccessfully also failed in the current enterprise as he polled 954 votes to secure a distant third position in the race for the APC Presidential ticket beating only Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and Publisher of Leadership Newspaper Nda Isaiah who polled 624 and 10 votes respectively.
Since Thursday when the APC National Convention Planning Committee led by immediate past Governor of Ekiti State Dr. Kayode Fayemi declared Buhari as winner of the Presidential Primary Election which many have described as transparent, fair and credible, attention has now shifted to the main battle on February 14, 2015 when he will have to once more test his popularity against the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate and incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Although the PDP had been rumoured to wish that Buhari got the ticket as its members consider him as a familiar opponent who they won’t have any problems defeating as in previous contests since 2003; it must be noted that the circumstances leading to his serial defeats in the past have changed.
Agreed that General Buhari remains the only Nigerian living or dead who had striven to lead the country but had failed in all three previous attempts as a result of his alleged pursuit of sectional agenda which is to ensure a return of presidential power to the Hausa Fulani north.
In 2003, he ran against former President Olusegun Obasanjo and lost under the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). The same party offered him its platform again in 2007 when he ran against his fellow Katsina born Umoru Musa Yar’Adua and lost too.
Unsure of getting the ANPP ticket in the 2011 Presidential election, Gen. Buhari formed the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) few months to the election, contested on its platform and also lost but not with a great improvement on his previous records of performance winning majority votes in all but five in the 19 Northern States.
His near zero performance in the entire South adversely affected his chances in that exercise which was hailed by both local and international observers as free and credible.
In all these serial defeats, Buhari unsuccessfully went through the courts in a bid to have the elections cancelled over what he called obvious irregularities.
Not a few Nigerians had criticised him for his obvious lack of statesmanlike attitude towards the elections which every one in the country knew he couldn’t have won barring the pervasive irregularities of the 2003 and 2007 presidential polls that had political parties with little or no national spread as the PDP does, participating. The PDP in those elections was always comfortable having no formidable opponents in the Presidential races which it won in all cases beginning with the 1999 presidential election which its candidate Chief Olusegun Obasanjo won despite the joint All People’s Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) joint presidential ticket of Olu Falae.
All that seems to have changed as the as the retired army general as metamorphosed from being an ethnic bigot, Islamic fundamentalist etc to one who many now perceive because of his anti corruption credentials as the only one who can restructure the socio-political economy of the nation based on the principles of justice equity and fair play.
This perhaps explains why the All Progressive Congress (APC) a fusion of hitherto mushrooming three opposition political parties, the ACN, ANPP, CPC and Governor Rochas Okorocha’s faction of APGA is out to give the PDP a run for its money using the General Buhari phenomenon.
Little wonders that the PDP is said to be in panic as a result of developments in the APC’s camp. The PDP which the book makers said expected a rancorous APC Presidential primaries owing to the intense and stiff competition among the five contestants is said to be very uncomfortable with the rancho-free atmosphere that pervaded the exercise broadcast live from the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
Unlike the 2011 election when the ACN leadership allegedly betrayed their presidential candidate Nuhu Rubadu to support President Jonathan, the present APC governors will surely this time around work for the victory of their party’s Presidential candidate who incidentally is General Buhari.
The PDP in fact is not expected to be comfortable with outcome of the APC Presidential Primary election that produced General Buhari as its flag bearer. Apart from the transparent nature of the exercise, the PDP is shocked to realise that none of the contestants has alleged any wrong doing in terms of the process that led to the emergence of General Buhari, instead all of them have pledged to individually and collectively work for the success of the retired army general in the 2015 presidential poll.
You can call this Buhari’s second victory as it is happening for the first time in the nation’s political history that opposition party’s presidential contenders would agree to sink their individual differences and interest and work for the success of the party in the main election.
Were it to be in the past, both Atiku and Kwankwaso would have by now been crying blue murder as regards the presidential primaries as a ground for them to return to the umbrella party the PDP who had most of the time been accused of sowing the seeds of discord in Nigeria’s opposition political parties in advancing its selfish political interests.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who many had expected to return to the PDP, which it had ditched on many occasions in his bid to get what the PDP had serially denied him as soon as he failed again to achieve his aims, has surprisingly pledged to support the candidature of the party’s flag bearer.
Atiku in a statement shortly after the results were declared expressed his confidence in General Buhari’s ability to deliver as president when elected thus: “I’m confident that you will provide the needed leadership to turn this country around. I have no doubt that you will work with dedicated Nigerians to protect our citizens, improve our economy, create jobs, improve education, reform governance and fight corruption.
Atiku’s statement clearly situates the challenges the next President of Nigeria will be expected to tackle by the mass of Nigerian people. But who between the two presidential candidates of the two formidable parties, the APC and the PDP is best positioned to make positive difference in the governance of the country.
For the PDP presidential candidate, many Nigerians would want to point out those things they would have wanted him do differently and for that reason with hold their support for him. But the people are also worried that the towering anti corruption profile of General Buhari alone is not enough to turn things around given the array of persons who have at some point or the other been involved in fighting away the golden opportunities to putting this notion on the path of economic prosperity around him.
They wish there could have been a ten Buhari in the current enterprise for the people to be definite as to what the character of a Buhari led Federal Government would look like.
The people remain un decided on this matter as they fear that the conspiracy of the elite against the poor in the nation would continue as long as the current political elites remain relevant in the management of the affairs of this country
This decision now lies with the electorate who will be expected to imbibe the character of the forthcoming election of being a purpose driven one and vote the right candidate not withstanding their ethnic, or religious sentiments.
Unfortunately, ethnicity and religion as well as other primordial sentiments will sure play a deciding role in the coming poll.
With the serious alteration of the political indices of the 2011 presidential election occasioned by the sheer determination of the opposition governors irrespective of their geopolitical zones to deliver General Buhari, the PDP is surely in hot soup.
Unlike the 2011 election, President Jonathan will have to strive harder to win southern states like Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Edo, Rivers and Imo where he had overwhelming victory over Buhari.in the previous election. But the up coming electoral exercise appears to present a different character when viewed against the resolve by the APC governors from the afore-mentioned states to deliver Buhari this time around.
This is enough to cause the PDP some headache, as Buhari who still enjoys a kind of cult following among the ordinary people of the north is sure to repeat the 2011 success streak when he won majority votes in 14 core northern states except the Middle Belt states of Kogi, Kwara, Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau in the presidential race which was generally regarded as free and fair.
If this happens, Presidential Jonathan and his party the PDP would find themselves walking a tight rope in the forthcoming election as he would not be able to score majority votes to retain his office with the remaining states should all the APC states in the south live up to their decision to deliver Buhari.
To keep his re-election bid on track President Jonathan may need to use the remaining period before the election in February 2015 to give the masses of this country a reason to continue to put their hope on him.
Tthe PDP is sure not to be taking recent political developments lying low as it is expected to sure up its propaganda campaign in the north with a view to winning the minds of many in that part of the country in order to prevent a repeat of Buhari swift victory in the north. This strategy again will make little or no impact at all on the psyche of the average northerner who is dead hungry for the return of power to the north going by the 2011 pattern of voting when they all returned General Buhari.
Another problem the PDP will face is the degenerating standard of living among the populace, which the PDP 16 years in the saddle has not been able to provide an answer for. Many would without any prompting from any quarters decide to vote for General Buhari for the sole reason of his incorruptible credentials. They will surely expect a Buhari Presidency to eliminate corruption in the body politics of the nation, which many hold responsible for the social and economic woes besetting the nation.
When this happens, the PDP will surely have itself to blame for undermining the core essence of governance, which is ensuring the well being of the majority and not the microscopic few in government who have indecorously reserved over 70 percent of the country’s annual budget to themselves.
2015: Buhari On The Path Of Stardom?
With Hameed braimah