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Published On: Sun, Dec 28th, 2014

2015: Who will Nigerians vote as president?

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Buhari and JonathanOchiaka Ugwu

There is no doubt that the 2015 election will be a different ball game from the previous ones given the fact that it will not be business as usual.

With the voter’s education going on and the level of awareness in the system, it shows that the high priests of Nigerian politics would be humbled this time around. I mean the money bags, the godfathers or mothers, political profiteers or the 10 percent seekers and finally, the self styled political caterpillars and bulldozers who collectively held that they are divinely gifted to misrule humanity. To this category of people, their actions and inactions are unquestionable whether popular or not as far as it serves their selfish interest. When they are happy, the people are happy, and when they are angry the people are angry.

Nigerian electorate armed with tons of big data and heavy expectations have taken a beating in the incoming elections. In several ways, that could be a good thing for Nigerian democracy. Among other things they have resolved to vote the best candidate that will give meaning to their lives and transform their living conditions for better. It is interesting to know that Nigerians are beginning to understand that the biggest loser in any flawed election is not the candidate but the people who would have benefited from the right candidate’s action plan.

When a better candidate loses in an election, it’s the people that will suffer. Development will be retarded, hunger will intensify, and people’s oriented programmes will be abandoned for narrow minded projects that will only benefit the few. Good for nothing aides will be appointed whose advice and projections will certainly turn out badly.

But February’s elections would be full of surprises. There are clear indications that show that big names and big money may be losing clout or, put another way, that Nigerian voters may be reclaiming some of their independence from the models that would define them.

A case in point was the just concluded All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primaries where the delegates told billionaire aspirants that their votes are not for sell. The delegates vehemently refused to be bought with money by telling the money bags that they are not for sale voting massively for a no-nonsense-General Mohammadu Buhari who stands well in winning the contest in February.

While the APC congress was adjudged to be very transparent by political observers, the one of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where only President Goodluck Jonathan was a sole candidate was said to have come short of normal democratic principle. It is a clear show of lack of internal democracy in Nigeria political parties which opinion moulders have said is a threat to the country’s nascent democracy. The move signals that the ruling party is not operating within norms of democratic principles. PDP just purposely failed to open up their parties to all party members who are eligible and want to run for office in their party presidential primaries. Some candidates in states were imposed on the party without election and due process. Some of the candidates allegedly won via so called consensus option which they forced down the throat of opponents. Some who dare to resist it were threatened with expulsion from the party. Most of the governors have unprecedented sway over their state party machinery to the point of mandating the delegates to vote for a particular candidate in an election that suppose to boost internal democracy.

This however, will shape the way the electorate will vote in the 2015 contest as most of them will favour a party that will deepen democratic culture in the polity.  Upon the fact that the nation is battling oil down turn, President Jonathan and other political office holders have not reduced their long official convoys as Nigerians struggle to keep with the austerity measures introduced as a result of falling oil revenues.  Many prospective voters will certainly question the rationale behind Jonathan, and other officials of his administration refusing to let off any of their conveniences as Nigeria battles to save the soul of the economy. Against all expectations, Jonathan and his men are still retaining all the paraphernalia of office by keeping lengthy convoys, travel teams, and flying private jets with tax payers’ money while they turn around to tell Nigerians to tight their belt to counter the oil prices challenges.

These voters as well may have expected Jonathan as the herdsman to lead by example which will automatically ginger others to imitate him. It happened when his former principal, the late Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’adua declared his assets openly while held sway as the President, not only that it was commended by all and sundry, but other political office holders including President Jonathan followed suit by declaring their assents openly for the public to know. Although, observers have said that Jonathan’s action was as result of pressure by the late president, event has proved them right as Jonathan is yet to declare his assets openly after his ascension to presidency following the demise of Yar’adua in May 2010.

Even the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and civil society groups say the government is not showing sufficient seriousness in responding to the crisis. They argued, the government must confront corruption headlong, reduce administrative costs, and harness internally generated revenues from government agencies to better the lot of the populace.

Political analysts have informed that an upsurge in the number of electorate in the least expected parts of the country might be recorded in the forthcoming elections. This, according to them, will be in favour of any party that had not left any of the states for granted and have something to convince voters into pitching their tent with them.

They jointly agreed that the electorate will only scrutinize the profiles of the two candidates in terms of who they think has the good track record of performance to address the numerous problems facing the country. They noted that both Jonathan and Buhari were credible candidates in their own right, but one is certainly better than the other.

Buhari, who is of no blemish both in private and personal life, has been associated with anti-corruption campaign for a very long time. For Jonathan, being in charge of the affairs of this nation has been an uphill task. You can only know how good a person is after he takes over the mantle of leadership. Buhari has not been tested under a democratic dispensation. He is only being judge by his track record and posture as an anti-corruption czar; nobody knows how the Daura born general is going to perform under a democratic dispensation.

Nigerians should brace up for the unexpected in the 2015 polls as there will be as lot of surprises. It will be reinforced by the fact that it had become highly impossible to predict the voting pattern of the electorate as most voters will vote according to their conscience except in the political base of the candidates.

Moreover, their success in the poll will depend on the way they carry out their campaigns, the intensification of their campaigns and, of course, antecedence of the two candidates.

In the face of this reality, one cannot really compare what happened in 2011 election with what is going to happen this time around because the situations are different. It is a different political milieu with new thinking and approach to issues. The kind of situation that they have is a major determinant of what is going to happen. In the last election, the issue of security was not on the front burner, now it is a major factor that will determine what is going to happen in 2015, not only in the most affected states but throughout the federation.

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