Petitions, accusations, allegations and counter
allegations from different aspirants may have to be settled by the
courts as INEC’s deadline for accepting nominations from political
parties has elapsed.
For better or for worse, these nomination processes by
the two biggest parties have taught us some lessons, some of which
were so funny to the extent that one occasionally finds it difficult
to differentiate between Nigerian politics and comedy.
From the expected and usual to the bizarre and unexpected,
here are some of these things are;
Only Unite After Losing Primaries;
This year’s elections have seen a lot of contenders for
different positions with some states having from between 10 to 15
gubernatorial aspirants in one party alone.
Ideally, one expects all the
aspirants to have one major goal, that of using the office they are
vying for to better peoples’ lives and the only differences between
them should be in methods and approaches to achieving that goal. In
the pursuit of their mandates, they differ very much. While some are
craving for free and credible primaries, some are clamouring for
zoning, some want automatic tickets while others are waiting for
anointment. However, once the primaries are over and the ‘winner’
emerges, the defeated aspirants will for the right or wrong reasons
gang up and suddenly unite under one agenda, call for fresh
primaries. Aspirants with hitherto no connections or even sharing
animosities, suddenly become partners searching for justice. A lot
of PDP Gubernatorial Primaries have resulted in such scenarios with
Yobe, Adamawa, Kano and Imo been typical examples. The APC has a
similar case in Gombe.
Merged but Not Integrated;
From early to late last year, the ANPP, ACN, CPC, APGA
Faction, nPDP and others merged to form the APC with some coming
after the party’s formal
the recent primaries in some states showed that they didn’t really
merge; the only glued or fastened together. In many states, there
was rancour over what they termed ‘marginalization of legacy
parties’ or ‘scheming out of non-legacy parties’, etc. in other
states, candidates were ‘allocated’ based on legacy or merging
parties. A senatorial aspirant in Kano State only remembered that he
was a former ACN member after he lost the primaries. One of the
reasons he gave why the primaries should be annulled was that ACN
was marginalized in the state.
Is More like Coercion
The issue of consensus candidate is not new in our
politics, but it was practically kicked off this term by the PDP and
President Jonathan. PDP undemocratically barred anyone from
contesting against the president, despite the fact that nothing
suggests that Jonathan will not win the PDP primaries with a
landslide against whoever decides to contest.
Although a convention was
later organized to ratify Jonathan’s candidacy, we also learnt from
that convention that all this while, the PDP National Chairman and
Secretary have been in acting capacity.
Furthermore, most candidates who were claimed to have
stepped down base on consensus arrangement, later turned back and
kicked against the consensus arrangement, citing coercion, threat
and potential injustice for their withdrawal. In Jigawa State, the
former Deputy Governor of the state emerged as APC gubernatorial
candidate through consensus, only for one of the other aspirants to
make a u-turn and insists on primaries. That aspirant won, but the
earlier consensus candidate did not participate in the primaries.
No End in Sight to Godfatherism and Nigerian Governors are Simply
Godfathers, most of who are governors have continued
their dictatorial trend of dominating politics left, right and
center. Governors’ favoured aspirants are winning primaries with
‘ease’ and by the governors forcing themselves as senatorial
candidates; they are now well positioned to take over the Red
Chamber in 2015. Meanwhile, the abysmal performance of deputy
governors in primary elections continues. It is safe to assume that
no less than 90% of Deputy Governors covertly or overtly nurtured
the ambition of flying their party’s flags, but only two (Kano and
Ebonyi) succeeded, others failed woefully.
Simply put, success in Nigerian politics is fast
becoming an impossibility without a godfather. Even the mighty
Buhari had to rely on Tinubu’s support to be sure of victory.
Have No Stake in Determining Flag-bearers;
The most popular aspirants usually lose in the
primaries, leaving voters to elect between whomever candidates the
party primaries produce for them in the general elections.
Early this year, APC embarked on a massive membership
drive promising Nigerians that they would be given the opportunity
to choose their leaders through direct primaries. However, since
after the enormously successful membership registration exercise,
the party began to systematically distance itself from that promise,
until it eventually settled for what it called ‘modified indirect
primaries’. That arrangement has seen only 6,008 delegates select a
Presidential Candidate for more than 170 million people.
PDP’s case is even worse in all ramifications as about
3000 delegates were made to vote for just one contender. Also, 21
delegates were alleged to have determined the PDP gubernatorial
candidate for the whole of Yobe State. We also learnt, especially
from the PDP primaries that delegates may be different from voters
and that it is not the voting that matters, but the counting.
is Focused on His Ambition;
It is clear that Jonathan is strictly focused on his
ambition, leaving little or no room for distractions. This is
evident, going by the fact that most of his men failed to clinch the
various tickets they contested for. With the exception of Darius
Ishaku (Taraba) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers), none of his former
ministers managed to scale through the PDP gubernatorial primaries
and events suggests that Jonathan did little to help.
Despite being part of Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet, some
ministers like that of FCT simply refused to participate in the PDP
gubernatorial race probably due to lack of encouragement from the
President. It looks like Jonathan did not take sides directly and
didn’t get involved much in PDP state primaries, probably as a pay
back to his sole candidacy or to avoid any move that could backfire.
Internal revolt is the least
Jonathan would want at the moment.
PDP’s Waste Basket;
A rough estimate suggests that between 60 to 80% of all
successful APC candidates at all levels are either former PDP
members or those who left the PDP recently.
Many aspirants joined APC from PDP within days or hours
and went ahead to clinch gubernatorial tickets. Akwa-Ibom, Kebbi and
Benue states are typical examples. It would be interesting to see if
APC would complain if these guys keep to tradition and later re-join
the PDP after they win.
The other twenty or thirty something remaining
political parties are no more than anyone’s waste basket. Only few
of them conducted meaningful and visible primaries with most of
their notable candidates emerging after crossing over from other
Possible To Contest for Two Posts at a Time;
This phenomenon practically began with Tambuwal who was
eyeing both the APC Presidential and the Sokoto State Governorship
Tickets. Media reports suggest that he has obtained nomination forms
for both positions. However, he later settled for the governorship.
Kwankwaso and Rochas successfully executed what
Tambuwal only attempted. They may not have broken any law, but their
actions are simply insulting on peoples’ sensibilities. It was very
much clear that Kwankwaso was eyeing the Kano Central Senatorial
Ticket even as he was vigorously pursuing a clearly predictable
presidential contest. Kwankwaso made sure that his in-law, former
Personal Assistant and current Commissioner clinched the Kano
Central APC Senatorial Ticket and after he lost the APC Presidential
Primaries, the ticket was relinquished to him, just as one’s
personal property would be returned to him when he comes for it.
Rochas practically did the same by apparently asking his
commissioner to take custody of the Imo APC Gubernatorial Ticket for
him before he collected it back almost on the very day he lost the
presidential primaries. One wonders how APC allowed that without any
query so far.
Running Mate Is More Difficult That Being Candidate;
Vice president Namadi Sambo’s seat was under threat for
much part of their second coming with Jonathan.
It was clear that in the past 2 years that some Northern PDP
Governors were not eyeing the Presidency but the Vice Presidency
which made Sambo’s position looked insecure for some time.
Similarly, the choice of Buhari’s running mate gave the
APC’s top hierarchy a tough time with meetings running into
marathons. Before succumbing to religious propaganda which probably
necessitated the emergence of Professor Osinbajo, they had to
seriously contend with more than 7 names with Amaechi, Oshiomole,
Tinubu and Fashola among them. The APC VP slot was fiercely
contested to the point one thought the party would organize a fresh
convention to elect a VP Candidate.
Similar scenarios played out in some states where
Gubernatorial Candidates had to determine their Running Mates on
INEC candidates’ submission deadline.
Elections Would Not Be Free and Fair;
Going by the controversial nature by which many
candidates emerged; one has every reason to be pessimistic about the
General Elections. Many unpopular incumbents had forced themselves
through the primaries and are probably hell bent on rigging
themselves through the General Elections.
President Jonathan for example who has one of the
poorest public ratings in Africa currently and whose eligibility to
contest is still controversial, must be very conscious of this, and
he wouldn’t have decided to contest if he was willing to allow a
free, fair, smooth and credible election to take place. The way he
emerged as PDP’s sole candidate only adds possibility to this
Furthermore, with many primaries of both parties
dominated by money sharing, coercion of delegates, rigging,
do-or-die attitude, winning-at-all-costs and winner-takes-all
phenomena, one only has to wonder the extent to which candidates
that emerged from such processes would go in trying to win at the
With INEC being handicapped by the Electoral Act from
fighting candidate imposition, refusing to accept flawed nominations
or even properly checkmating rigging, anything can happen in 2015.
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