THE 2015 presidential election has been fought, lost and won by the major contenders to the first office in the land, President Goodluck Jonathan the incumbent President of the PDP and General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
Although there were 12 other contenders to the office of president in the March 28, 2015 presidential poll, the fight was a straight one between President Jonathan and General Buhari.
At the end of the contest, General Buhari of the opposition APC was declared winner having satisfied the provision of the constitution and the 2010 Electoral Act by scoring the majority of votes cast during the election.
The retired general who had made three unsuccessful attempts at the presidency since 2003 polled a total votes of 15,405928 to defeat President Jonathan who scored 12,663,950 votes during the election.
General Buhari’s 15 million votes came mainly from Kano, Kaduna and his home state Katsina where he polled over one million votes from each of the afore mentioned states.
In addition, General Buhari also won majority votes in eighteen other states namely Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Jigawa, Niger, Gombe, Bauchi, Yobe, Bornu and Adamawa.
It was not surprising that the APC candidate won in these states as voters in these political entities had demonstrated the same level of support when he contested the 2011 presidential election which he lost.
The general’s performance in these states in 2011 was overwhelming despite the fact that some of the states including Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Adamawa, Niger, Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba, Kebbi had loyal PDP governors.
In this particular election, Buhari made inroads into the six South West States all of which he won majority votes except in Ekiti where the PDP candidate won majority votes.
The general’s winning streak did not end with his snatching President Jonathan’s traditional strongholds in the South West; he also penetrated the North Central states snatching Kogi, Kwara and Benue leaving the PDP with Nasarawa and Plateau States where the president won majority votes.
Besides winning in all the six states of the South-South zone including Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Cross River, the PDP also won in all the states of the South-East geo political zone.
It won overwhelming majority votes in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States. The PDP candidate also won majority votes in South Western State of Ekiti and the North Eastern State of Taraba bringing the total number of states where it won majority votes to 15 in addition to the Federal Capital Territory where the PDP also defeated the APC marginally.
The defeat of the PDP did not come to many as a surprise because a lot of Nigerians became disillusioned with the way the affairs of state were being handled, especially when the government could not deliver on its promise of poverty reduction through the creation of more job opportunities in the oil and gas sector by ensuring the establishment of more refineries to meet local demands and for export.
The government on its part said it had created over two million jobs in the non oil sector especially in the agricultural and solid mineral sub-sectors. But the people said they did not feel the impact of these policies and were ready to vote the government out for another sect of leaders to take over the management of the nations affairs.
The people could not resist the APC change slogan with a promise to succeed in all areas where the ruling PDP had failed.
Added to the mass poverty and want in the land, the confidence among the mass of Nigerian people in the electoral process under the Jonathan government coupled with their determination to participate actively in the governance process prepared the ground for them to own the process.
It must be stated that this could not have been possible without the share determination of the present administration to reform our electoral process to ensure that every vote cast is counted and also counts.
It must be said also that President Jonathan allowed the electoral process to run freely without any interference whatsoever. For this singular reason and his concession of defeat in the polls he superintended as president of the country even before the declaration of his opponent makes him stand out as a global icon. His statesmanly disposition in this regard has also rendered void attempts by former President Obasanjo to demonize him as being desperate to throw Nigeria into chaos because of alleged bid to cling on to power at all cost.
He has also proven to the world and the opposition parties in Nigeria that election is not all about winning at all times.
Back to the out come of the election, it can be said that Nigeria has been set on the right course to achieving sustainable democratic culture where the interest and well being of the generality of the populace is placed above personal interest.
Much of this has not been seen in the average Nigerian politician who deploys every means fair or foul to advance their selfish political motives.
In this election, the PDP and indeed the president can be said to be victim of their commitment to electoral reform. The PDP since the days of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had demonstrated uncommon resolve to return the nation’s electoral system in Nigeria.                The reform has returned the power to determine who govern the nation to the people.
There has been a complete departure from the do-or-die posture of the Obasanjo years in Aso Rock towards election in Nigeria. Those dark years in our nations history provided a fertile ground for some careless remarks such that was credited to erstwhile National Chairman of the PDP Vincent Ogbulafor to predict that PDP would rule the nation for 60 years to thrive.
That prediction made out of share naivety and poor understanding of democratic ethics has now been cut down to 16 years, no thanks to the serial crises that bedeviled the PDP leading to their waterloo on March 28, 2015.
Besides the internal crises that rocked the PDP to its very foundation which led to the exit of some notable personalities among its ranks to the warm embrace of the opposition elements desperate to take over power at all cost, the PDP did not read the political barometre in the build up to the 2015 presidential election very correctly.
The PDP’s failure to reconcile all its aggrieved governors and former leaders of the party at all cost before the merger talks that produced the APC marked the beginning of its downfall.
The failure of the party to do this and the seeming false can do it philosophy of the party which imbued some element of arrogance in its psyche saw it swimming against a heavy political current at the just concluded elections.
The emergence of general Buhari as the APC standard bearer in December 2014 delivered the killer punch at the PDP which ultimately sent it packing from the Aso Rock Villa. The party response to this significant challenge was mismanaged when it only focused its campaigns on what the Jonathan administration had been able to achieve for the country. These campaigns did not make any meaning to the average Northerner who simply wanted the return of power to the zone. The APC took full advantage of the growing sentiment of power shift to the north by choosing General Buhari as its Presidential candidate
The party had also over relied on its prediction that the merger by the Asiwaju Ahmed Biola Tinubu led ACN with the General Buhari’s CPC and the ANPP led by Ogbonaya Onu would not endure.
It became too late for the PDP to articulate concise strategies to beat the party to its game when it became clear that the APC against all expectation had survived.
Political watchers knew from the onset that the ruling PDP would kiss the canvass in this election owing first to its baggage of unfulfilled promises and the broken alliance between it and the leadership of the ACN. The ACN had in 2011 in what many had described as a betrayal of its presidential candidate Nuhu Ribadu entered into a secrete deal with President Jonathan to support him in that election. Many had perceived this pact as such propelled by the Southern solidarity in that election. The 2011 pact with leaders of the then CAN became irrelevant under the new order with the emergence of the APC which felt it had what it takes to defeat the PDP.
The APC leadership particularly those in the South West had made it clear that they would work for the success of their presidential candidate General Buhari in the election.
Their resolve to work against the PDP made the President to recourse to the traditional institutions and the Nollywood and business communities in the zone.
The result of the presidential polls as regards the South West states proved that the APC leadership held the ace in determining where the votes go in any election in the states they control.
A major upset in the presidential election was the loss of Ondo State to the APC. This particular loss and the losses the PDP recorded in Kogi and Benue States were the shockers of the entire process.
The party had regarded these three states as its haven going by the results of the 2011 presidential election and the fact that they were under its control.
The results from these three states showed clearly that the governors did not give the party a clearer picture of the political situations in the states. In Kogi for instance, the APC won the three senatorial seats and the six House of Representatives seats leaving nothing for the PDP to take.
The abysmal performance of the party in the state has been attributed to the poor governance as manifest in infrastructure deficits and its inability to pay the salaries of civil servants for months.
If the defeat suffered by the PDP in Kogi was surprising the one it suffered in Benue could be described as interesting. This is because the ex-national chairman of the party Chief Benabas Gemade taught the incumbent governor of Benue State Gabriel Suswam some bitter lessons.
Governor Suswam had against all entreaties from the party hierarchy decided to snatch the PDP senatorial ticket from the senior citizen prompting the latter’s defection to the APC which welcomed him with the Benue Central Senatorial ticket. As we speak Governor Suswam and senatorial candidate of the PDP could not secure the senatorial seat he so coveted as Chief Gemade triumphed over him at the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
As we celebrate the outcome of the elections we should pause and ask ourselves if we are ready for the entrenchment of democratic governance in this country.
President Jonathan conceding defeat even when collation of the presidential election results was still on is not enough to guarantee that. The win at all cost attitude of some politicians as revealed by the incredible figures generated in states like Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Rivers, and Delta live much to be desired. What Nigeria deserves is a competitive contest that bears no marks of any kind of manipulation.
One is encouraged by the kind of figures we saw from Kogi,Benue, Edo, Nasarawa, Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Taraba, Ogun, Osun, Oyo the FCT and Lagos States.
Although not very satisfactory, figures from Sokoto, Jigawa, Zamfara, Anambra, Gombe, Imo, Akwa Ibom can be said to be fairly representative of the popularity of each of the candidates.
The average Nigeria politician must learn to allow the wish of the voter to prevail at all time devoid of any manipulation.
The task before the president elect Gen Buhari is to explore ways to fill the political gulf between groups in the country as seen in the sharp division along tribal leanings during the election. The cheering news is that Buhari has declared his commitment to carry every one along in the scheme of things. With this every Nigerian can be said to be the winner.