Friday, November 29, 2013

The G’5 Governors APC merger: Matters Arising

Tuesday, November 26, the worst kept secret in Nigerian politics was
finally revealed: the long expected defection of the group of
dissatisfied governors originally elected on the platform of PDP, to
the opposition party-the All Nigerian People's Congress (APC.)
For months, their issues and concerns with the ruling party, PDP-
their erstwhile party had dominated the media and the political space-
from their staged walk-out at the August 2013 PDP Convention at the
Eagle's Square , to the formation of the now defunct New Peoples
Democratic Party, to several rapprochement meetings with the president
and other stakeholders aimed at finding some resolution to what it
was that ailed and choked them- all such efforts ended in stalemate
culminating in their defection November, 26 to the APC.
Several analysts and pundits have come out with their prognostications
since the defection was made public. Some have called it 'political
earthquake' while others have likened it to a 'new realignment' that
is bound to significantly alter the political dynamics in the country.
Their conclusions have all pointed to what they believe will be a
difficult road to travel by the ruling party and President Jonathan
were he to offer himself again for reelection in 2015.
But the questions I wish to ask and throw open for further inquiries
are: will the defection of the aggrieved governors to the opposition
capable of altering the political dynamics in the country? Is the
ruling party PDP truly in electoral trouble or are we making too much
out of the merger? What electoral value do the aggrieved governors
bring to their new party? What happens to those who had toiled in the
vineyard of the opposition party all these years, and had positioned
themselves to reap whatever electoral fortunes that may come their
way, now that the aggrieved governors have joined their ranks, and as
state executives, may not be willing to play second fiddle to these
stakeholders? Will they hand over the structure they have long
nurtured, watered and made ferment for electoral success to
individuals who until this week were their mortal political enemies?
Who would the APC present as its presidential and vice presidential
candidates? If the rumor of the likely candidacy of Kano state
Governor-Rabiu Kwankwaso and his Lagos state counterpart-Babatunde
Fashola becomes manifest, will Nigerians in 2013, given the heightened
sense of ethnic and religious passions in the country be willing to
vote for an all Muslim ticket, even though we did such in less
heightened times in 1993, with the late abiola and Kingibe? Can
President Jonathan given the seeming hurdles thrown his path with the
new realities, win in 2015 were he to put himself forward? These are
some of the issues that will engage the punditry class as the 2015
presidential election game plan begins to take shape.
There is no doubt that the defection of the five governors from PDP to
APC may on paper, appear to have altered the political dynamics in the
country. Any time a group of elected leaders cross-carpet, there is
always a seismic shift however tenuous such may be. The optics the
photo ops generates and the public relations mileage the news cycle on
the story engenders may create such a buzz as to make things appear as
if there is a real change, but the hard question remains: do the
governors truly bring electoral value to their new party, such that
PDP will be totally obliterated in those states? Will the PDP still
manage in spite of the defection to score at least 25 percent of the
votes in the affected states? Will the APC presidential ticket win in
a state like Rivers? Taken together, does the number add up to
negatively affect the electoral fortunes of the PDP? Now let's look at
some of these angles: The states where the majority of the five
governors that defected to APC in 2011, hold sway did not vote for
Jonathan even though PDP managed to score the mandatory 25 percent of
the votes in those areas. So the electoral fortunes of APC in those
states, Niger, Sokoto, and Kano in my opinion may not be enhanced.
It's like a Republican governor in a red state like Kansas or Oklahoma
defecting to the Democratic Party. Such defection will ring hollow
politically because even if the Republican Party were to dress up a
goat and present such as a candidate for election, the people of
Kansas will rather vote for that goat, rather than gamble with an Ivy
League educated Democrat, because the Democrat will not be seen to
share the values of the Kansas people. So, with or without the
defected governors, the APC is expected to win those states
regardless, because President Jonathan is seen as a polarizing figure
in those states.
Let's look at Rivers state- will the people of Rivers, jettison their
next door son, and embrace a northern candidate simply because their
Governor-Amaechi defected to the opposition party? Even though one is
not cheer-leading for identity politics, I declare here that the
people of Rivers will not abandon Jonathan in 2015, if he chose to
run, so what electoral value will Amaechi add to the APC? Kwara state
may be a little dicey given the near stranglehold hold of the Saraki
political dynasty in the state, but even at that, the PDP may still
garner the required 25 percent of the popular votes.
Now let's look at the South West, as I said on this page two weeks
ago, the 2011 presidential elections revealed a new strain in our
political culture: the capacity of the geopolitical zones to vote
local issues at local elections and to vote their conscience at the
national level. I make bold to predict that though APC will do very
well in the zone, given the stranglehold that ex-Governor Bolas Tinubu
wields, PDP will give the APC a run for its money. The rumored ticket
of the beloved Logos state governor Babatunde Fashola and its Kano
Counterparty Rabiu Kwankwaso may come across as an intriguing
proposition, but the people of Lagos state will vote an APC candidate
for governor, but will sneer at a Muslim- Muslim ticket and vote to
disappoint their beloved Governor Fashola at the presidential level.
APC will lose in Ondo, and will have an uphill task wining in Oyo. APC
may win in Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, but will have a huge challenge in Lagos
and Oyo. The South East is certain to vote en-mass for Jonathan as
with the South-South. The Middle Belt and the northern states of
Kaduna, Katsina, Taraba, Bauchi, Nassarawa, will vote for Jonathan
thus leaving the APC to fight for the rest of the northern states.
Another problem the newly merged governors will face in their
respective states will be a political turf war. The APC stakeholders
who had worked hard all along to create political structures upon
which they had hope to utilize to advance their political fortunes
will now have to hand over such to the newly arrived members who may
not be willing to cede their preeminent position to those who had
nurtured the party. The resultant rancor may lead to open fights,
blackmail, and subterfuge and thus have a house that is divided
against itself, which the PDP may exploit to weaken the APC.
But if PDP thinks it will coast to victory easily without coming out
with a convincing blue print of development and concrete platform that
they hope to utilize to address the numerous challenges that this
country is facing, then they may be in for a rude awakening. It is
true that millions of Nigerians are beginning to be tired of the
dreams they have been sold over the years, and would like to see
changes in their circumstance. Nigerians are groaning under darkness,
of unemployment, of inadequate health care delivery system, of crony
capitalism and unbridled corruption, of a leadership that has lost the
abiding sense of the social contract, they desire a government that
will galvanize the nation and move it along sustained path of
development. Even though there are bright stars within the ruling
party, the general verdict has not been too encouraging, so if
President Jonathan were to run, he would be faced with a reinvigorated
opposition that is determined to dislodge him from Aso Rock with every
tool at its disposal. The president would have to convince Nigerians
why they should continue with him and not with APC, even though the
odds of the APC candidate winning the 2015 presidential elections
appear long shot, given the analysis I have provided above.
Congratulations, Honourable Bassey Dan Abia
Early this week, President Jonathan forwarded some names of candidates
to fill some important federal government agencies to the Senate for
confirmation. One of such was the Honourable Bassey Dan Abia, the
immediate past Commissioner for Transport in Akwa Ibom State, who was
named the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development
Mr. Dan Abia, an erudite attorney brings a unique sense of
understating of the corporation's terrain, having been the agency's
acting chairman some years back. He will bring his managerial acumen
and deep people's skills to pilot the affairs of the corporation that
has played a key role over the years in bringing development to the
people of Niger Delta after decades of environmental degradation and
systemic neglect. Here's wishing the honourable, who also happens to
be an ex-student of the beloved secondary school that helped nurture
our intellectual curiosity-Salvation Army Secondary School,
Akai-Ubium, -Akwa Ibom State, mighty congratulations!

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