Adekoya Boladale, Convener, Advocacy for Better Leadership (ABEL), Nigeria, is a political scientist and scholar on good governance, a social commentator and consultant on political and intra governmental affairs.
How Jonathan Killed His Good Luck
With a tension soaked atmosphere, the Nigeria general election hits a countdown of days as various political parties and contenders continue to rally round for the sympathy and votes of the electorates. Apart from the federating states with rainbow like contending parties, the presidential election which seems to have gained more international interest and attention is arguably between the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Initially, many pundits in spite of the on-going insurgency in the North East and unending daily bashing of whatever is left of President Goodluck Jonathan’s goodwill by the press and the opposition believes the President may pull this battle through and we were right in making such calls as at then. Looking at the factors that determine electoral victory, President Jonathan as at November, 2014 was still doing well in the race. His strongholds were still under his control. Public perception (though battered, still share some level of sympathy for him), the religion card, coupled with his frequent visits to Jerusalem and the apathy of voters’ towards presidential election were elements, if sustained could have earned him victory.
Events in the past few weeks have however shown clearly that the people with such believe of President Jonathan’s victory come February 14, 2015 may have overestimated the political exposure, determination and goodwill of the President. From available facts, President Jonathan seems to be suffering from cerebral leukemia- a blockage of the flow of reality to the brain, creating a delusional image of popularity and acceptability, hence decisions are irrationally taking without recourse to pragmatic events.
Undoubtedly President Jonathan hasn’t been the best president in the history of the country with unending allegations and counter allegations of financial misappropriations, downtrodden economy and perpetual insecurity in the North East but the zenith of this is his unholy charade with a renowned poster boy of a military junta and another captain of corruption who have suddenly leveraged on the inept trait of the president to take a sainthood form and rewrite their narratives. This window created by the president is unforgivable!
Away from the razzmatazz of social media, the defeat of President Jonathan at the poll in 2015 will be largely due to his own undoing. In all sincerely, a close examination of Jonathan disposition to the 2015 election shows a man who is tired of the pressures and demands associated with the presidential seat. Left to Mr. Jonathan, he would have thrown in the towel long ago and take a trip to the serene and calm village of Otuoke but for the notable cabals who benefit immensely from his incapacitation. For them, the demand for him to continue in office is overwhelming.
The All Progressive Congress on the other hand, having identified these elements took no time in unnecessary glorification of illusional popularity and worked vigorously at ensuring a united team, creating a strategic campaign system where people-focused manifesto devour of unnecessary ‘TAN-nated’ dancers are passed directly to the electorates. Paint a message of anti-corruption ( though giving no convincing model to be adopted) against a generally perceived corrupt government. Build a mindset of change seeking electorates who would see the election as a form of revolution waiting to happen and position itself as the long awaited saviour. All these it got right!
President Jonathan’s campaign strategy is currently based around the following factors. Grassroot penetration, Religion, Southern support and achievements in office.
Grassroots politics has been identified as the strong pole of electoral victory as mostly those in the grassroot have limited access to the media hence their decisions are not based on press influence, they believe majorly the decisions of charismatic leaders they know and trust. Using this model in core consideration of the INEC election timetable which places National Assembly and presidential election on the same day one would have expected the president to ensure candidates of his party contesting for the National Assembly seats are people with massive grassroot presence, well respected and loved. The effect of this, is to have the president leverage on the popularity of these individuals at the poll, hence electorates are indirectly forced to vote for him without much ado. Unfortunately the list of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates flying around shows clearly that the president may not be well informed. A case study is that of Ogun State where Senatorial tickets are dashed out to concubine of kinsmen and renowned international fugitive who have lost every bit of acceptability and whose name continue to be a stain to the already tainted garment of PDP leaves the mind dazed.
In a similar way he has presided over Nigeria, President Jonathan has further carried his indecisive mode to the PDP. With few weeks to the election, the party is still engulfed in unnecessary division largely due to the inability of the president to call the shot and take a concrete stand on issues surrounding the candidature of some of the aspirants. This the party may soon pay for dearly!
As a Christian, President Jonathan believed strongly that almost every Christian would overwhelming vote for him come February 14 and he was right about this. If there is one thing the PDP has done successfully, it is the painting of General Buhari has a bigot, however, this was before the emergence of Pastor Osinbajo as the APC vice-presidential candidate. Unlike Pastor Tunde Bakare who was General Buhari’s running mate in 2011, Osinbajo comes from one of the most conscious and populated Church in the world, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and even though the General Overseer, Pastor Adeboye is yet to publicly endorse any candidate, members of the church are aware of the strategic plans some of the most influential pastors in the church (who are known to be the G.O’s footsoldiers) are putting up to ensure Pastor Osinbajo comes out victorious. This is not limited to the RCCG alone as close sources within the Catholic faith and other radical pentecostals are now much more sympathetic to the progressives cause having also revealed similar plans. If these works out, President Jonathan maybe more empty politically than we think. This is the price you pay when campaigns are based on religion rather than issues and policies.
As at last year, even though the All Progressive Congress controls majority the Southwestern states, pragmatic politics showed that the electorates may favour Jonathan (with exception of Lagos) compared to Buhari largely due to the rancour among leaders of the All Progressive Congress in the states and lack of connect of the Governors in those states with the electorates as against a perceived united Peoples Democratic Party. However, the lack of decisive leadership saw the party losing what could have been a bulk vote in Oyo state torn into shreds with the emergence of major political heavy weights under different party platforms. The implication of this is that the votes which ought to have been galvanised for PDP during the presidential election will now receive minimal attention from political actors, some of whose parties are even without presidential candidates as the political exposure of an average Nigerian is still immature to result into voting for different parties in a single election.
The Southeast which was initially penned down as the unshakable stronghold of the president now appears as uncertain. The endless bickering on PDP’s gubernatorial candidature in Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo have opened a glimmer of hope for APC in those states. The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) believed to represent the political consciousness of the south Easterners has suddenly pulled out of its usual endorsement for President Jonathan to pitch tent with General Buhari. In a similar action, foremost Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo in spite of pressures to endorse Mr. Jonathan have refused to yield. The South South region also doesn’t seems united in having Jonathan win the election with divisions in Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa Ibom. The results from these regions may not only be shocking but catastrophical.
If there is one thing APC has gotten right, it is its campaign strategy. Beyond criticism, the party has been able to put forward a well coordinated campaign with the youth at the forefront of its media and mobilization section. This has helped the party reach out to minds of young ones in schools, Colleges, Universities and other tertiary institutions. The party has also done well in the management of resources, as funds get to the right hands and used judiciously.
The Peoples Democratic Party in spite of its huge resources continue to run an uncoordinated, uninspiring, ridiculous and tan-ated adverts which possesses little or no content but a choreography of dancers dancing to nowhere.
Let’s believe the world may have been bamboozled into believing lies and propagandas against the President but what excuse can the president give to these elements right under his control that he let slipped away?
Some say the time for change is now, I say let what will be, be. As for me, I stand with history in February, praying silently that this path would never be taken again!
Adekoya Boladale wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org. Engage on twitter @adekoyabee and Facebook www.facebook.com/adekoyabee
Recall that tens of thousands of PDP members across the South West are to converge on the Tafawa Balewa Square grounds in Lagos for the flag-off of the South West re-election campaign of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan/Arch Namadi Sambo.