By Wale Adedayo
The current crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to its foundation is interesting in many respects. But I don’t want to believe a resolution is not in sight. It is for this reason one intend to take a quick look at what could be in store for President Goodluck Jonathan as a candidate of the ruling party in the 2015 elections.
Ideology as a reason for voting stopped being a factor since the collapse of the First Republic, so it won’t matter in 2015. A sizable number of Nigerians often believe religion is a factor. I certainly do not hold this view, as ETHNICITY has, and will always be, a dominant factor above PERFORMANCE and IDEOLOGY when it comes to voting for a Presidential candidate in Nigeria. It is at the lower tiers of government (State and Local Government) that performance and what a political party/candidate has in store often come into play.
However, ethnic orientation in voting does not mean the presidential candidate MUST be from a particular stock. From my little experience, each major ethnic group in Nigeria (Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo) often line up behind a presidential material they believe will assist the course of their geographical space. In some cases, such as that of Bashir Tofa, an ethnic group can decide to abandon a paper weight son/daughter in favour of another, who it believes will deliver for the area concerned.
The South-West rejected Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 as the preponderance of belief was that the former Head of State does not have Yoruba interest at heart. This did not change in 2003 until the scheming to remove Obasanjo from office by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar began. It was the deal with Obasanjo by the Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors of the South-West that soften the region for him as opinions persisted he’ll never do anything worthwhile for the Yoruba.
Jonathan emerged president by fate. But his election in 2011 followed similar patterns observed in terms of Nigeria’s ethnic orientation. Most of the votes genuinely recorded for Jonathan in North-Western Nigeria were from the non-indigenes and indigenous Christian population of the area. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was the darling of the North-West. The same scenario is likely to be repeated if Buhari is fielded as candidate by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015. And it might be more difficult for election results to be changed unlike what obtained in 2011.
But as pointed out earlier, if and that is a capital IF, Jonathan could plug into the ‘desires’ of an average North-West resident in a manner that voters in the area can BELIEVE him, he might swing a surprise against Buhari. The President’s Political Strategists must be able to crack the code of ‘entering’ into the hearts & minds of the North-West in an enduring manner to achieve this feat. And that is, IF Buhari does not consolidate his ‘base’.
The North-East is not happy with Jonathan for the kid gloves with which he initially treated Boko Haram. And when he eventually swung into action, it was a double tragedy for the president as scores of innocent lives were lost to the actions of the JTF in the troubled areas. More than any other thing, an average resident of the North-East want a president who is decisive in action and compassionate to the people elected – they want security, which they believe can only be guaranteed by such a leader. Whoever they believe will likely hold these areas in victory.
It is not certain either that Buhari rates higher than Jonathan here. Naturally, it would seem Buhari should get the support of the geo-political zone on a platter of gold. But unlike Obasanjo, who at great personal risk, went to seek a negotiation with the Boko Haram leadership, Buhari has not till date done anything to assist efforts to end the ongoing low-level civil war in the North-East. This could seriously count against him among voters there, if Jonathan’s strategists should do their homework well in these areas.
The concerns of the North-Central may not be too different from that of the North-East. The persistent bloodletting in Plateau State, which occasionally spill into neighbouring states, indicates a need for security guarantee from a decisive and compassionate commander-in-chief. But there is a difference here: The region is home to majority of Christians and African Traditional Religion practitioners in Northern Nigeria. They are forever wary of a person like Buhari, which could count as a plus for Jonathan. But a strategic move on Buhari’s part could wreck Jonathan’s gains, i.e if the residents believe the former Head of State can assist their dream of a secure and peaceful environment.
In the South-West, where the PDP should have capitalized on the elitist policies of the ruling APC, the party is divided by distrust and lack of cohesion among its leading lights. But if past attitude to voting should be a guide, a Jonathan from Southern Nigeria, despite well-observed shortcomings might still benefit from a deep-seated suspicion of Buhari by Yorubas. However, if Buhari’s handlers were to dig deep to find out the whys and hows to remedy the situation, the table could be turned against Jonathan.
It is a fact that Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi is currently embroiled in a crisis with Jonathan. But I doubt of this will affect the votes of Rivers State residents for the president come 2015. It should be the same for the rest of the South-South and South-East, who believe the president is their ‘own.’Both geo-political zones should return more than enough votes in favour of Jonathan.
On the whole, Jonathan should be able to return to office with a comfortable margin of victory. This can change if Buhari’s handlers in terms of strategy and political communication show superior strength to those of the president.
Just my two cents!