Determinants Of Electability: Who Will Win The Nigerian Presidential Poll?

DETERMINANTS OF ELECTABILITY: WHO WILL WIN THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL?

Written by Anthony Okosun. ( TonyOsun@yahoo.co.uk)

Goodluck Jonathan is Nigeria's incumbent President. He is widely expected to win the presidential election slated for April 16, 2011. Many fixed and variable factors constitute the determinants for the high expectation among Nigerian political pundits and dispassionate election observers, that incumbent candidate Goodluck Jonathan will coast to victory in a colorful blaze of glory in the April 16, 2011 elections. Among the determinant factors that will facilitate the victory of Goodluck Jonathan at the polls is the large array of presidential candidates lacking in substance and substratum thereof. Nigeria's very many opposition presidential candidates constitute an unbelievable mosaic of presidential candidates. In the colorful medley of presidential candidates, only one candidate has a real chance of winning Nigeria's presidential election slated for April 16, 2011. That candidate is the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. There are a few serious candidates but lacking national platform or broad base substratum thereof. The candidates in this group are General Muhammadu Buhari; Alhaji Shekarau and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. In the remarkable Nigerian presidential potpourri, there is a galaxy of political light weights. All other candidates in the list of about 20 names fall into this last group.

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Apart from the Peoples Democratic Party, the political party, on whose platform Nigeria's incumbent president is contesting the April 16, 2011 presidential polls, no other political party in Nigeria has a nationwide broad base platform. The PDP is a behemoth with tentacles spread across the entire nooks and crannies of country Nigeria. There is no ward, village, town, city or county in Nigeria, where the Peoples Democratic Party has no functional political cum electoral machine. No other Nigerian political party has this extensive national spread. The human capital resource of the Peoples Democratic Party is beyond belief. As the party has been in power for roughly 12 years, it has substantially consolidated the comprehensiveness of it's electoral machine. No political party in Nigeria has the capability of the Peoples Democratic Party vis a vis sponsoring candidates into elective political offices. Many of the presidential candidates in the Nigerian poll have no functional offices in any of the states in Nigeria, apart from Lagos and or Abuja. A vast majority of the candidates have no recognizable party apparatus. The Peoples Democratic Party is the best financially oiled political party in Nigeria. The competition by Nigeria's billionaire oligarchs to pour hundreds of millions into the coffers of the PDP, whenever the party is raising funds, is simply legendary. Now you ask yourself, how the other very poorly funded, or zero funded political parties, whose candidates are competing against the PDP candidate in the April 2011 polls, intend to enact the political marvel and electoral benediction that could dethrone the incumbent PDP candidate.

Nigeria is a very huge country, and the most populous country in Africa. The prerequisite for winning a presidential election in Nigeria, translates to having the capability to reach and convince every Nigerian to vote for a party's candidate. In today's world, with great advancements in telecommunication, which is the major means of delivering one's message to the electorates; the need for a deep pocket, when contesting for a political office cannot be over emphasized. This is where the PDP has a very huge advantage over the other political parties parading unfunded and underfunded presidential candidates in Nigeria. Hosting political rallies all over the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, which is what the presidential election requires, demands a very deep pocket.

A major issue that is currently playing out as Nigerians prepare for the April 16, 2011 Presidential election is the desire of some entrenched Northern Nigerian political power brokers to ensure the victory of a Northern presidential candidate. Many Northern politicians view the Goodluck Jonathan presidency as a usurpation of the North's period to occupy Nigeria's seat of power. Many Northern politicians believe that Goodluck Jonathan as the Vice to late President Umar Yar Adua who died in office, should not have contested the election in accordance with an unwritten gentleman's agreement between southerners and Northerners in the ruling PDP. Contrary to the permutations of these Northern political leaders, and in the most brazen and audacious demonstration of the reconfiguration of political and power demographics, and the metamorphosing political and power dynamics in Northern Nigeria; a Southern candidate won the PDP primaries on the strength of Northern Governors support.

Contrary to the perspective of the Northern political honchos, the Northern poor and un-influential, just like their Southern counterparts have since discovered that the political godfathers are in politics to serve their selfish interest. They catapult themselves, wives, children and cronies to positions of power, prominence, prestige and influence on the false premise of a monolithic and homogenous territory; wherein the poor gain no dividend and are oppressed, subjugated and economically frustrated. The average Northern Nigerian voter wants to cast his or her vote for that Nigerian from anywhere in the geo socio political space, known as Nigeria that can help him or her and family secure a better life and a better future. This too is the dream and desire of the average Southern voter.

The desire for justice and social justice in the Nigerian oil industry and the oil producing Niger Delta will play a big role regarding who gets elected to run the Nigerian state for the next four years come April 16, 2011. The Nigeria economy is ultra-petroleum based. Petroleum is the heart and soul of the Nigerian economy and indeed the Nigerian state. The wealth from petroleum has helped to keep Nigeria united. Different parts of Nigeria with different ideological inclinations and conflicting religious beliefs have always found a compromise ground in the area of petroleum resource allocation. This natural resource has proven to be the venom responsible for Nigeria's political instability, endemic corruption, economic non performance and social stagnation. To cut a long story short, Nigeria's oil has become Nigeria's curse.

Multinational oil giants for ages have been carrying on like governments unto themselves in the Nigerian delta. These companies had previous Nigerian governments in their pockets. In years past, the oil giants operating in Nigeria carried on like over-lords. The oil giants operating in Nigeria regularly caused major oil spills that have reduced much of the Niger Delta to a waste land. Yet these companies have never been held responsible and or accountable for the ecological disasters and untold economic hardships they have continuously caused the good people of the Niger Delta. Many residents of the Niger Delta are now afflicted with various medical complications as a result of these oil spills, with nobody to hold accountable. No attempt has ever been carried out by the oil giant's operating in Nigeria to clean the oil they spill regularly on Nigeria's Delta. No attempt has ever been made by any Nigeria government to scientifically study and report the ecological disaster occasioned by the very many oil spills in Nigeria's Delta.

Nigerians now want to have a President that would take the oil challenge very personally. Nigerians now want a president that will start the process of economic diversification. Nigerians now want to vote for a presidential candidate they believe will fight the corruption in the oil industry and also fight the environmental abuse in the oil producing Niger Delta. This is another reason, why incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who is a Niger Delta indigene, whose oil producing community has suffered serious environmental abuse, is viewed as having the most vested interest, best positioned and best motivated to help Nigeria secure justice and social justice in the Nigerian oil industry and the oil producing Niger Delta.

Some Nigerian presidential candidates are huge on the internet, on T. V. and in the newspapers. These same candidates have no tangible representation, nor name recognition where it matters most, among the Nigerian voters. Many candidates who are very loud in the media but completely absent on the ground, are usually the most well educated and most intellectually agile candidates. This is where the average intellectually celebrated candidates, who are however, very far removed from the Nigerian masses, usually miss the point. The vast majority of Nigerian voter are either uneducated or very poorly educated. Thus, speaking volumes of grammar in the newspapers will not make any impact, where a candidate is not being sponsored by a political party that is actually on the ground and alive in a locality.

Of all the candidates contesting against the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, the most recognized is Muhammadu Buhari. Back in the day, he was Nigeria's military Head of State. The advantage Goodluck Jonathan has over Buhari, is Jonathan's humility, penchant for staying out of controversies, democratic credentials, being a religious moderate and humanness. Buhari's political party, the CPC is not known to have solid control of any state in Nigeria. The CPC cannot claim to have foot soldiers or political generals, also known as political godfathers in the elephantine manner of the PDP in every ward in Nigeria. Somehow, Buhari has managed to remain in the news among Nigeria's elite; largely as a result of his antecedent as a former Nigeria military Head of State and former Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). Buharis's actions, while in power and his extremist religious utterances since leaving office, have combined to establish a huge army of Buhari haters.

Many Nigerian elites, especially the Southern Nigerian extraction are holding many grudges, very bitterly, very aggressively and very passionately against General Buhari. Many Nigerians still feel much disgust and horror at the very insensitive and callous manner in which General Buhari allowed the execution of the alleged drug dealers Bartholomew Owoh and co; via a retroactive decree. Many Nigerians still cringe, when they remember the Buhari/Idiagbon years, when very many draconian decrees i.e decrees 2 and 4 among many tyrannical decrees were enacted for the enslavement of Nigerians. Even the great Fela Kuti, arguably Africa's greatest musical genius was thrown into jailed, based on some fraudulent charges. Professor Ambrose Alli and many Southern Governors who left office with no material acquisition, were harshly and insensitively thrown into jail and Prof Alli for instance was allowed to go blind and die for lack of medical attention. General Buhari's incendiary vituperations since leaving power has also helped to make the prospect of his returning to power, very repulsive to many Nigerians. Thus, General Buhari is not a threat to the Goodluck Jonathan presidential candidacy.

Yes, candidate Goodluck Jonathan is not the perfect candidate. The problems of armed robbery and kidnapping constitute a humongous blot on the President's claim to success. Now, the very big question is whether the President's electability has been rubbished by his inability to deal with the violent crimes problem? Oh wellÔÇŽ..tell you what, it would appear that Nigerians have learnt to put things in perspectives and have settled on Goodluck Jonathan as the most acceptable candidate among the galaxy of presidential aspirants.

Another major factor working in Goodluck Jonathan's favor vis a vis, the April 16, 2011 presidential election is the inability of the prominent opposition candidates to form an alliance and present one candidate. It takes no rocket scientist to realize that the divided opposition candidates, stands no chance of defeating the behemoth PDP sponsored incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

ANTHONY OKOSUN (TonyOsun@yahoo.co.uk)

This article is a revised and upgraded edition of the author's article: YES, JONATHAN WILL WIN THE 2011 NIGERIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION