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2015 Presidency: The Odds

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As the February 14
Presidential election draws nearer by the day, and parties put finishing touches to their strategies to either retain or gain power, permutations as to which party waxes more or gains more ground are rife. As events unfold, there is little doubt that the race will be between the ruling Peoples’ Democratic  Party (PDP) and the leading opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
Following the emergence of incumbent president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and  former Head-of-State, General Mohammadu Buhar (GMB), as the candidates of the PDP and APC respectively, the battle for Nigeria’s presidency has begun in earnest.
As expected, both presidential candidates have as much chances of emerging victorious as their followers chose to portray or make keen observers believe. One certainty, however, is that at the end of the day, only one aspirant will emerge. So, what are the odds  against, or in favour of the two presidential gladiators.?
For GEJ, there is no doubt that the catch phrase, “A breath of fresh air” that was the crux of his pre-2011 campaign that saw him coast to victory in the 2011 election seem to have fizzled out. So have all the goodwills and promises of a better Nigeria.
Pundits have expressed the belief that the disillusionment trailing the GEJ presidency garnered so much momentum because it basically originated from what is largely seen as within the inner chambers of the PDP, the very heart of the party caucus.
Key areas in which GEJ has been identified to have given a lackluster attention and hence deemed to have failed could be summerised into corruption and insecurity, and a major advocate in this wise is former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Being a key figure in PDP, whatever the former president says cannot be dismissed as mere frivolity. Comparatively, there is the belief that no matter what can be said about former President Obasanjo, he at least made some efforts against corrupt officials when he was in charge, even if such efforts were often viewed as sectional and tokenistic.
In his recent autobiography titled “My Watch”, Obasanjo said of corruption in GEJ’s first tenure; “under Jonathan we seem to have gone from frying pan to fire. If in the past corruption was in the corridors of power, it would seem now to be in the sitting room, dinning room and bedroom of power”.
The former president further drove his point when he alleged that incremenating corruption-related documents against a former governor was ordered to be removed from a file because the culprit was close to GEJ.
As a result of his perceived inability to address issues of corruption, therefore, many Nigerians, as amplified by the opposition, do not see GEJ as ready to fight corruption, which no doubt, has over the years proven to be the bane of Nigeria’s woes, both within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
The same reason is given for GEJ’s inability to secure lives and properties in his domain, as exemplified by the increasing and more deadly activities of the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, which had sent thousands to their early grave, and has held over 200 Chibok secondary school girls hostage since April 15, 2014.
In a summarizing manner, the founder of Adoration Ministry, Enugu Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, during his end-of-year mass on the eve of 2015, said GEJ had surrounded himself with very corrupt officials. As a result, the President, he said, has turned a blind eye to their corrupt activities while millions of Nigerians wallow in abject poverty and endless insecurity.
According to Mbaka, “Jonathan has ruled for six years. We need a change. NEPA (electricity) is not working because of corruption. The privatization of public companies has not yielded any fruit because of corruption.
“Jonathan surrounded himself with very corrupt officers who advise him. Nigerians are sick and tired of wasting innocent lives without government doing enough to stop the destruction.
“Up till now, nobody knows the whereabouts of the innocent Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram and we say we have a government that cannot guarantee the welfare, safety and security of the citizens.
“Nigerians are calling for change. We need change. We don’t want to move from bad luck to bad luck. Nigerians want to move from bad luck to good luck”, he said.
While acknowledging the stand by the opposition in a piece titled “Can Jonathan survive this blitzkriegs?”  in This Day, Simon Kolawole identified four categories of GEJ’s critics: Opposition figures and other political opponents; those who lost out in the political game; those northerners who are still bitter that Jonathan “hijacked” power after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010; and those who have neither partisan nor sectional sentiments against Jonathan as they are sincerely critical of certain aspects of his stewardship.
Kolawole had no qualms with opposition figures and other political opponents because they must do their bidding.
“There is no way APC would come out and praise Jonathan; that is political suicide. They want power. They want his job. Theirs is to say Jonathan or PDP has not done well and that if Nigerians give them a chance, they would do much better.
“This is a universal characteristic of opposition politics. You can argue that they do not always work with facts, but what is politicking? PDP would do the same if APC was in power”, he said.
For those who lost out in the political game, the writer observed that many politicians, who supported GEJ in 2010 and 2011, feel abandoned, “they feel like a deflated orange: squeezed, sucked and dumped. They feel Jonathan treated them to a one-night stand, whereas they wanted an affair.
“Some wanted appointments; others simply desired respect and recognition. But they are bitter that Jonathan jilted them after getting what he wanted. In no time, they became his sworn enemies”, he said.
The northerners who are embittered that GEJ hijacked their right after the death of President Yar’Adua feel so because they say when they conceded power to the South in 1999, they did it with the understanding that Obasanjo would do only one term. But he did the maximum two terms.
Consequently, PDP, as the ruling party, agreed to north/south power rotation every eight years. Unfortunately, Yar’Adua died prematurely.
“Jonathan took over and refused to let so. To some northerners, there is nothing Jonathan can do to make them happy. Even if he turns Nigeria to Dubai, their message is clear; Thank you and just get out of here”, he said.
The last category, which have neither partisan nor sectional sentiments against Jonathan are merely genuinely bothered at his handling of critical issues such as corruption and Boko Haram.
“In truth, Jonathan lost a lot of sympathizers  with the Chibok School girls’ saga, which turned into the  ‘Na only you waka come’ tragicomedy in the corridors of power”, Kolawole concluded.
As a word of advise, and in seeming appreciation of the political scenario, Kolawole noted: “It is not in the best interest of President Jonathan to lump all his critics together. As a leader, he has to sit down, analyse his critics and their criticisms, and work out his actions and reactions appropriately.
“He sure has millions of critics, like any other leader. People criticize with different motives. People have different agenda even when they are saying the same thing. Unfortunately, you will miss the massage when you lump everyone together and respond to every critic and criticism with cynicism and antagonism”.
As is usual with incumbency and opposition in politics, the weakness of the ruling government is what opposition latches upon to score its points, and the APC, seem to be doing a good job of it.
Against an allegedly “weak” GEJ,  the APC,  which is the leading opposition party, has fielded a perceived “strong” candidate in GMB, based on his track record. One key factor that constitutes a plus to GMB is his brief tenure as Military Head of State from the 1st of January 2004 to August 2005.
Alongside his second in command, late Major-General Tunde Idiagbon, GMB launched the popular War Against Indiscipline (WAI), through which they attempted to set a new road-map for the country’s politics.
They introduced strict economic and political policies that have been widely described as “Buharism”. It saw him refuse to adopt the IMF conditionality to devalue the naira. While his critics blamed him then for the resultant job losses, closure of some businesses, and decline in living standards, his admirers commended him for adopting unique economic measures that enabled his government to reduce inflation, curb import of needless goods and curtail crude oil theft.
Given his history as a leader with a strong character, GMB is also described as incorruptible and hence seem as the messiah that Nigeria needs to combat the ailing corruption-infested Nigerian economy.
Ironically, GMB’s critics also consider his strong personality as a minus, saying that he would not be a listening president like GEJ. But his followers have expressed strong feelings that the former Army General’s popularity is increasing by the day, and before February 14 where the pendulum for the presidency will swing to will be too glaring not to see in favour of the APC  candidate.
Moreso, as is popularly said,There is little doubt that Nigerians want to change, one that would loosen the stranglehold of corruption in the nation’s polity. What is, however, in contention is who represents that change so yearned for. Is it a repented GEJ, or a brand new GMB?

 

Soibi Max-Alalibo

Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman

Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman

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APC Decries Fresh Attack In Plateau

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The All Progressive Congress (APC) Chairman in Plateau State, Mr Rufus Bature, has condemned the renewed cycle of attacks on unsuspecting people of Ta’agbe in Miango District of Bassa Local Government of the state.
Recall that an attack on residents on Friday led to the death of an unspecified number of persons.
The APC chairman in a statement signed by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Sylvanus Namang, urged security agencies to synergise and apprehend perpetrators of the dastardly act.
The chairman said the party was deeply saddened by the latest orgy of violence visited on the people, which led to the loss of lives, with many others maimed and property destroyed.
“It is disheartening that this dastardly act came at a time when the Plateau government is working round the clock to ensure restoration of permanent peace in the troubled community and the state at large.
“These couriers of death and agents of destruction who attack the people at will must be trailed, apprehended and brought to book.
“This latest attack should be seen by security agencies as an effrontery.
He called for greater synergy between and amongst the various security outfits in the state who had been adequately supported and equipped by the state government to protect the lives and property of residents.
Bature also urged the good and peace-loving people of Plateau, to cooperate with the state government to stem the tide of attacks by wicked elements who sneak in the dark of the night to terrorise the people.

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Yiaga Africa Blames Govt For Voters’ Apathy

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Independent election observer group, Yiaga Africa, has expressed worry that increasing voters’ apathy as witnessed in the Anambra governorship election may not have been caused by insecurity but increasing loss of confidence in government.
A board member of the group, Ezenwa Nwagwu held the view in Awka during a post-election reflection meeting with leaders of Civil Society Organizations.
Nwagwu reiterated that the ugly trend was not necessarily occasioned by insecurity that had always heralded elections in the past, but growing disconnect between the government and the masses, saying it is time populace held government to account to bridge the gap.
He said: “Election is over. Now we have to watch governance and the only way to do that is to clearly design pathways through which we can hold the government accountable.
“One of the ways is for the citizens to engage the government with budget process. Government every year estimates what it uses the people’s resources to do for them.
“Unfortunately, the people involved don’t show any interest, and four years later, the same people will start complaining that government has failed, even when there was nothing to track.
“We need to see how the Media and Civil Society groups can collaborate and produce what I call a citizen charter demand that they can hand over to the new Governor-elect.
“They can liaise with other professional bodies to conduct infrastructural assessment in the state and use that as a document to organize a town-hall meeting to engage government officials.”
Nwagwu also identified what he termed “fear and complaint industries” as major impediments to the growth and development of the state, insisting that the two factors must be shut to enable people of the state enjoy democracy dividends.
He added: “We need to close up the two industries of fear and complaint that have gripped the state, especially after the election so people can leverage the benefits of governance.
“If we continue with this scare-mongering and complaints, we will only succeed in having few persons taking over the government and dictating the pace.”

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CVR: Fresh Registrations Hit 4.2m

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said that fresh registration in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) has hit 4,297,494.
The commission disclosed this in the second quarter, week seven, weekly update released by the commission in Abuja recently.
The commission said that as at 7 a.m. on Monday, November 22, 1,856,771 persons have completed their online and physical registration.
According to statistics provided by the commission, 1,856,771 persons who completed their registration, include 941,098 males, 915,673 females.
It also added that 741,183 persons completed their registration online, while 1,115,588 completed it through physical registration.

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