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Permutations and Projections into Nigeria’s 2011 General Elections
(Hurricane Jonathan Makes Landfall!)

By: Franklin Otorofani, Esq.

 Published August  3rd, 2010


I forecast Hurricane Jonathan making landfall in the South/South with wind gusts up to 130mph, making it a monstrous Category 5 hurricane. Naturally, its effects will be strongest in the South/South from where it will sweep through the South/East and South/West, and all the way through the Middle Belt with only slightly reduced strength. Its outer bands will be strongly felt in the North/East and tapering off in the North/West.—Franklin Otorofani


Open Field

With the successful amendments of the 1999 constitution that dialed back the date for the presidential election to between December, 2010 and January, 2011 rather than the presumed date of April, 2011 before the amendments took effect, the whistle has been blown for the formal commencement of the titanic race for the 2011 general elections.

I used the word “formal” deliberately because in reality the race had already begun long before the amendments came in last week. At this point in time, presidential aspirants (not yet candidates until they’re nominated by their parties) have started arriving on the field of play ready to slog it out in their respective party primary nominations slated for this month, thanks to the new Electoral Act just passed by the National Assembly.

The 2010 amendments to the 2006 Electoral Act which mandate compulsory party primaries to nominate party candidates is a most welcome development in that it ensures a level playing field for all aspirants by entrenching internal democracy in the parties—a feature that has been sorely lacking in the present Ghana-Must-Go set up. 

It is, therefore, incumbent on the aspirants to be fully prepared for real democratic contest not backroom deals with power brokers in the dead of night. To be sure, it will not totally eliminate the influence of power brokers who are important party members themselves and deserve to have their voices heard as well. But it will give the people a chance to weigh in on the choice of candidates thus giving a voice to the people. Isn’t that beautiful? The Electoral Act has restored power to the people to determine who will fly their party flags. It was a power hijacked by party lords to the total exclusion of rank and file members of the parties to whom it rightly belongs. Change has come to Nigeria!

There is, therefore, no question in my mind that it will help to entrench grassroots democracy and compel politicians to deal directly with the people at the grassroots rather than with a few power brokers who have positioned themselves to ambush the process by dictating and imposing their favored candidates on the people behind their backs. It is a salutary development that entrenches and further extends the taproots of our young democracy. With a stroke of the pen the law has achieved what the political parties could not achieve in 12 years. That is the power of law as an instrument of social engineering. 

With these amendments in place the promised and long expected electoral reforms appear to have gotten up to speed. With these amendments in place and zoning thrown out the window, Nigeria is gradually but surely erecting the pillars of democracy one peg at a time, and the future of her democracy looks promising and brighter. That was the optimist in me giving utterance to those lines. The pessimists might disagree, but I’m not one of them. I’m an incurable optimist to the core who holds steadfastly to the belief and conviction that Nigeria will get it right. The established democracies in the West that we often compare Nigeria to were in worse shapes in their early beginnings. Their systems were plagued with mind-boggling corruption, backroom deals, vote manipulations and unspeakable electoral brigandage and malpractices that would make ours pale into insignificance.

And even today, those ills still manage to rear their ugly heads in the advanced democracies making the perfection of democracy and the electoral systems a tall order. An acceptable threshold that approximates to perfection with minimal imperfections is all that we could aim at because absolute perfection in human affairs is an unattainable goal and a utopia. This is not to pass a vote of confidence in our system or to excuse whatever ails it, but an expression of faith in the ability of the nation to overcome the present and build the future through the gradual perfection of the system just like it was done in other nations whose systems were bedeviled by similar ailments in time past.

An unbroken 12-year run on democracy is no mean achievement in a nation with a notorious history of coups and counter coups as its political staple. We must not forget that in a hurry regardless of whatever shortcomings that are weighing us down. Such shortcomings can only be temporary and not permanent in the long run. They will be taken down one peg at a time as the new Electoral Act has done, but if and only if we keep the pressure on consistently, unceasingly, unremittingly, and uncompromisingly.  

 

The Roll Call

The new Electoral Act is a good start, but it is only the beginning not the end of the process of perfection. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out at the various party primaries in short order. For now, the list of presidential aspirants is rather disturbingly spotting familiar faces that most Nigerians would rather not see on their ballot papers at the polling booths or otherwise see with their faces covered with their palms. And this includes former military Head of state, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, a permanent fixture and recurrent decimal in recent times, who has graced each and every presidential election since 2003 when he gate-crashed into partisan politics. It also spots former VP, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, whose ill-fated presidential ambition has remained still born; Kano state Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, a newbie and thorn in the flesh of Buhari and; former military president, General Ibrahim Babaginda, whose formal announcement has been greeted with unprecedented, near universal disapproval and outright rejection from critical quarters.

While other national and local offices are important in their own rights, there is no question that the ultimate price is the presidency which requires a lot of consultations across the land and adequate time and resources to prepare for the race. It is the ultimate in the heavyweight category. With elections set to commence in January therefore, any presidential aspirant that has yet to signify his or her interest in the coveted office within the next few weeks should be ruled out of contention. That is not to say that there would be no late comers to the show or even gate-crashers. There are probably some serious aspirants out there lurking in the shadows who have yet to publicly disclose their presidential ambitions and working below the radar to mobilize support for their candidacies. There are always surprises and the usual dark horses emerging from the woodworks to steal the thunder and the show from the early birds at the eleventh hour.

While their identities are unknown at this point in time, such presidential hopefuls might include Reverend Chris Okotie, who had revealed to us how he had been chosen by God as the anointed one in 2007 and had accused the PDP of “stealing” his mandate. One is still wondering and a little confused though as to how the PDP pulled off that one from him. I thought it was beyond mortals to steal God’s mandate. But we know the PDP is capable of pulling off the unthinkable and unimaginable. Don’t we? Off course we do.

However, I’ll put it beyond the PDP to play that game with God. The party is simply incapable of that heist even if it is the Devil himself. I’m, therefore, inclined to think that it’s not God’s if it can be stolen by mere mortal, for, no one steals from God and lives to enjoy the loot.  Rather, I want to believe that only a satanic mandate is capable of being stolen, and a satanic mandate is un-retrievable from the thief. That would perhaps help to explain why no party or candidate was able to recover the mandate from the PDP, try as hard as they did for two odd years! That is the stubborn, unyielding characteristic of satanic mandates.

In any case, there were too many people accusing the PDP of stealing their presidential mandates as if there was ever more than one presidential mandate at a time. How many mandates are we talking about here—one, two, three, four, five, six, or 0? Buhari, Atiku, Ojukwu, Okotie, Kalu, et all, have all accused the PDP of stealing their presidential mandates as if we’re dealing with more than one mandate to begin with. And if they’re all laying claim to it, how would it be shared amongst the claimants if it was recovered from the PDP—cut, dice, or grind it? Impossible! The question then is whose mandate was stolen? Who was the rightful owner of the alleged stolen mandate? Did it belong to Buhari, Atiku, Kalu, Ojukwu, Okotie or Yar’Adua? Only one of them could rightfully and legitimately lay claim to the 2007 mandate. And thanks to the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, both gave the mandate to the Musa Yar’Adua/Goodluck Jonathan PDP ticket as the rightful owners. Period! (Chikena!)

Clerk, call the next case on the Cause List!

However, Chris Okotie, a man of God, might not have been impressed with that final verdict of mere mortals and may yet try to retrieve his alleged stolen mandate from the PDP. The party is still holding on tight to it and is in no mood to let go off it except from its “cold, dead hands!” (My apologies to the estate of the late President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the US, Mr. Charlton Heston), who vowed to fight gun control measures and anti-gun legislations in the United regardless of the daily mayhem gun violence is unleashing in inner cities across the land particularly in black and minority communities.   

Heston’s hands may be dead and cold. But unfortunately for Okotie, PDP’s hands are still live and active not dead as Heston’s and maybe itching for another daring electoral heist, come 201! And that’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Is Okotie ready for the rumble?

It will be a titanic battle to pry it from its hands in the coming duel. Okotie will need all the prayer warriors in his space-age congregation and all the help he can get from the newly elected president of CAN, His Holiness, Rev/Dr//Pastor/ Bishop Ayo Oritsejafor and the entire Pentecostal movement in Nigeria to declare all out spiritual war against the “demonic” PDP to let go its stolen mandate. However, as experience has shown, the PDP does not let go its stolen mandates without a bruising fight and it has “Satan” himself at his back poised as it always is to deliver the killer punch to its opponents. Would Okotie stand eyeball to eyeball with the “Devil” himself behind it? He will need help from heaven to dare the Devil otherwise he should forget about the whole thing. But if he chooses to go ahead I will be there live at the ringside to watch the epic clash and cheer him on until the PDP is stretched out limp on the canvass and taken out of the ring on a stretcher to the emergency room of the Abuja National Hospital where it is guaranteed to draw its last breathe due to power failure and lack of proper medication.

But don’t count Chief Orji Kalu out at the ringside fighting on the side of the PDP. After all, it is his beloved party that Okotie is threatening. Although he has not publicly declared his intention to run, he has not given up his presidential ambition either even though he now appears to be a deserted general without troops. What a twist of fate! No shortage of clowns in Nigerian political theater! Don’t get me wrong, folks. Politics is an unpredictable game and nothing is cut and dry. Whatever anyone might think of him, Orji Kalu stands a good chance against any other presidential aspirant in the PDP and he could emerge a “compromise candidate”. Oops! Sorry, that is now ruled out by the new Electoral Act.

Not to worry though, there is always a way where there is a will. PDP is a master of the game and could always find some loophole to exploit and field Kalu as its standard bearer.  And who knows, Okotie might find himself doing battle with Orji Kalu as the PDP flag bearer for the 2011 presidential election. Did I hear somebody cracking up? Oh, cut it out please! Kalu has told the world that he made a pact with the new PDP helmsman, Dr. Nwodo, to come back to the PDP if the man was made chairman. PDP is a party of secret pacts. And Kalu has fulfilled his side of the bargain. But what does he get in return, just a PDP membership card? Anyone can get that on the internet? What else is in the pact? We don’t know because it has yet to be revealed. But what else took him to the PDP of all parties if not to actualize his burning presidential ambition? With Orji Kalu as the PDP flag bearer, at least potentially, however, Okotie is guaranteed to retrieve his stolen mandate from the PDP in real time: no but, if, or when! But like I said, he will need more than prayers, but the “Devil” himself on his side to get the PDP to field Orji Kalu as its presidential candidate for 2011—for 3011 maybe, but certainly not for 2011.         

But not so fast, there’s a big elephant in the PDP engine room that is sucking up all the air from other presidential hopefuls in the party. And it takes more than prayers and sheer bravado for a midget to take on an alpha male elephant spoiling for a fight if he doesn’t want to be reduced to dust. Such a midget would be well advised to first go for featherweight bouts and gradually build himself up to take on the heavyweight class.

The PDP parades a bunch of tested and proven fighters in the heavyweight class who are known to be rough, brutal, and unforgiving, and who might, however, not make it to the nomination for obvious reasons. Paradoxically, that is bad news for anyone wanting to take on the PDP in the next elections particularly the presidential contest. It would be good news for its opponents if the PDP were to field a discredited, been to, washed out political liability, such as for example, IBB or Atiku, who has totally squandered his political goodwill and has reduced himself to hollow drum that is regularly sounded for his utterly nauseating, nuisance value in our polity.

It’s amazing that politicians do not seem to know when their game is up and go someplace else to try their luck. And this is more evident with former military leaders. It’s amazing how they delude themselves about their “popularity” and “acceptability” when the reverse is so stark and thick that it could be touched with bare hands in the air. Who wants IBB back in power? The answer is IBB, and James Ibori!  Who wants Buhari back in power? The answer is Buhari, and Prof. Tam David West! Who wants Abubakar Atiku as the number One Citizen? The answer is Atiku, and Orji Kalu! No kidding! And you have to wonder: is this all the “North” that wants power back, has to offer the nation? There’s got to be something better than these washed out threesome.

 

New Look PDP

With Nigerians totally sick and tired of these thoroughly discredited individuals who are still embarrassing and aggravating them with their declarations to run for the office of president, PDP cannot but do a thorough makeover by wearing a new look. In other words, PDP must reinvent itself by shedding its old, worn out garment. At this critical juncture, it could only do so not only by instituting internal reforms, but more importantly, by maintaining a respectable distance between itself and its old school hold overs and fielding a totally unblemished, untainted and visionary candidate who commands general acceptability across the land and, I might add, the international community as well.

And the party seems to have put the right foot forward by discarding the liability called Victor Ogbulafor and replacing him with Dr. Nwodo who commands respect and general acceptability across the board. Naturally, the next is the presidency. It cannot afford to mess with a controversial, corrupt and discredited figure whose past is tainted with scandals, corruption and mal administration. These are characters that Nigerians want to completely get rid of and put behind bars for their wanton atrocities to the fatherland while they held sway so as to enable the nation make a clean break with its sordid past. With these characters still around the nation will be condemned to relive its sordid past. She deserves a break and she deserves it now. And that break must start with the PDP by fielding a credible individual whose past would not be a serious cause for concern and embarrassment for Nigerians at home and abroad as well as in international fora.

It’s not that the international community will choose our leaders for us, but they are nonetheless interested in who emerges Nigeria’s leader just as Nigerians were interested in who emerges as the US president, for example. The international community too is tired of corruption and mal-administration in Nigeria. Who wouldn’t, anyway, for a nation this blessed be going cap in hand begging for alms all because of kleptomaniacs masquerading as leaders? Who would not be tired of the stench of corruption oozing out of our shores to assail the nostrils of decent people around the world? Who would not be tired of megalomaniacs? That’s not dictation or foreign interference per se, but benign expression of preference for an individual candidate.

Officially, that candidate is not yet known as the PDP primaries are several weeks away. However, certain feelers are already out and they point in the direction of the man from Bayelsa State, nestled in the heart of Niger Delta. Hiis name is Dr. Jonathan Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Stacked against the bunch of discredited oldies in the PDP he is the One. He is the one without a blemish. He is the one with no case file with the EFCC. He is the one with no political liability. He is the One to wear the ultimate crown! He has my vote and the votes of overwhelming majority of Nigerians cast in stone if and when he decides to run for the exalted office. It’s a no brainer for the PDP. Let’s face it and quit pretending: the party currently has no better presidential material than its current leader in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan. Would it take rocket science to figure that out?

How do I know that when the primaries are yet to hold? How do I know that when the elections are yet to hold? I know that because he is an unspent bullet while his potential challengers are spent bullets that do not carry any more fires in them. While Buhari has some credibility left in him since he has yet to be implicated in any corruption scandal, his despotic rule and his public image of religious bigotry already etched in the minds of Nigerians, have become an albratross on his neck that continues to hurt his presidential ambition. These imageries stick and they linger for a lifetime. Buhari is trying hard to tone down these imageries, but his efforts are too little too late in the day. It will take another lifetime to undo the damage to his draconian, despotic and bigoted image.  

IBB and Atiku are out and out spent bullets that can only be melted as scrap metals to produce recycled products. The more these twosome intrude into our public consciousness, the more provoked Nigerians become of them. And the more they hear about them, the angrier they become of them. The mere mention of their names evokes doom and gloom on the faces and voices of Nigerians both home and abroad. It’s that bad. It’s not for nothing that several groups have sprouted up to stop IBB in particular from contesting the presidential elections. And Atiku is in no better shape with the masses. Jonathan has none of these political liabilities weighing down on him.  

I know that because I have seen the wellspring of goodwill pouring out of Nigerians for him to run. I know that because I have seen the hundreds of political groups that have sprouted up like mushrooms all over the country mobilizing support for his candidacy as it was during the Abiola era. I know that because of the excitement in the air whenever his candidacy is mentioned and gloom and doom countenance on the faces of Nigrians at the mere mention of the name, Atiku or IBB.  I know that because Nigerians are yearning for a change from business as usual. And they do not want to touch even with a long pole those like IBB and Atiku who have been tainted with corruption and mal administration in the past. Nigerians are dying to see a fresh face of hope and a new beginning and they have seen a candidate who best approximates their hopes and aspirations in Jonathan. Even the blind see this, the dumb know it, and the deaf hear it.

Oh yes, from the House of Jesse God found a David to wear the crown. And his people have said: Amen! Glory Be to the Lord in the Highest for giving us a King to rule over us! His endorsement by the South/South zone in Port Harcourt cuts across ethnic boundaries. It did not just come from his native Ijaw ethnic group but from the Urhobos, Itsekiris, Ikwerres, Ibibios, Isokos, Edos, Ishans, Ikas, Efiks, Anangs, Etsakos, and you name it. It was not an ethnic thing unlike what goes on in other places in Nigeria. It was a collective, trans-ethnic endorsement that foreshadows and serves as harbinger of things to come at the national level of which we’ve already seen the first stirrings and salutary indications of a game change. 

From Kaduna to Benue states, Bauchi to Borno, Lagos to Sokoto, Enugu to Edo, and Owerri to Ondo states and other states in between, Nigerians who are fed up with the pre-existing order of inept and corrupt leadership are banding together to say no, never again to the chieftains of the old order who are once again showing up their hands to be given a chance to continue business as usual. They must be taking all of us for dafts with broken memories otherwise they would not dare show their faces again. But Nigerians have demonstrated that they are no dafts and their memories ain’t broken either. A truly Pan-Nigerian, trans-ethnic movement is rapidly developing and taking hold on the polity. 

Like another worthy son of the nation, MKO Abiola of blessed memory before him and on whose shoulders he could proudly stand to run for the presidency, Jonathan is a totally detribalized Nigerian in whose unsoiled, pristine constitution could be found the Ishan, Ilaje, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Fulani, Efik, Tiv, Birom, Edo, Urhobo, Ibibio, Isoko, Ika, you name it.    

Yet it would be the height of naivety to imagine that the office is his just for the asking. It will not be a cake walk. The old political gladiators are still around to do battle and they know the political terrain better than the younger breed including Jonathan, who are still learning the ropes and groping their way through. Retired army generals turned politicians are there to contend with, fortified as they are, with their military strategies which they could deploy to devastating effects.

The ethnic jingoists are already rearing up their heads, armed with the tools to dredge up primordial ethnic allegiances to attain their goals. They will deploy scare tactics to frighten their constituents and appeal to their base instincts in order to turn the elections into an inter-tribal, inter ethnic, or inter-regional contest. They might borrow a page from the Republicans in the US who tried but failed to turn the 2008 presidential elections into a racial contest between whites and blacks.

But if the Republicans, who, restrained by the social atmospherics of political correctness prevalent in the United States were, on balance, subtle and unobtrusive in appealing to racial sentiments, trust the crude Nigerian politicians to go all out to make ethnicity their sole campaign issues. It’s a shame that people could appeal to base ethnic sentiments in this day and age to get votes rather than their programs. We’re dealing with people who have no diplomatese, don’t believe in political correctness, and would unabashedly appeal to base tribal sentiments without batting an eye. Yes you can count on them to play the ethnic card to the fullest when they have no issues to run on.

But be certain to learn, however, as the late Chief MKO Abiola proved beyond every shadow of doubt, that the masses of our people are already a step ahead of the ethnic gladiators who are hoping to ride on the back of their ethnic horses on the highway of ethnicity. I want to repeat this: Nigerians are a step ahead of the average politician whent it comes to ethnicity and their votes. Trust that our people will not be swayed by the tribal posturing of ethnic gladiators to win elections. While unscrupulous political desperadoes will do everything in their power to perpetuate ethnic divisions, the masses have wizened up to the reality that ethnicity will not put dinner on their tables; will not provide them with healthcare; will not give them jobs; will not provide education for their children; nor provide them with good roads and other social amenities that have been denied them for decades by the same ethnic champions who are now shamelessly posing as their saviors and liberators.

 

Countdown

When I gaze into my crystal ball, therefore, I could see a straight battle not between or among political parties as one might have imagine but one between the forces of change represented and led by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on the one hand, and the forces of reaction led by Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Abubakar Atiku on the other. I see a clash of the old versus the new. I foresee a wave of political alignments and realignments preceding and right up to the elections with two major parties emerging at the end of the day. I foresee a titanic battle ahead with all the corrupt elements, some of whom are now facing trial by the EFCC, banding together and flocking to IBB and Atiku to stop Jonathan.

I see a lot of them using proxies to carry out their acts for fear of being prosecuted for their corrupt activities in the past. I see a lot of moles being sponsored and planted by the forces of reaction on the Jonathan campaign team and strategists who will work to undermine the success of his campaign. I see a lot of turncoats and black sheep in Niger Delta betraying Jonathan by secretly working for IBB and Atiku while professing their loyalty and allegiance to Jonathan in the day. 

I see a lot of presidential aspirants dropping out midstream leaving just a handful of contestants in the field. I see the so-called north split right down the middle in its support for Jonathan.  And I see the much vaunted northern unity unraveling before our very own eyes to reveal its putrefying underbelly of seething discontents and mutual distrusts in its constituent parts.  I see the bogey of northern unity torn to shreds and its constituent parts going their separate ways as in a broken marriage of convenience.

 

South/West

I project the South/West falling into the Jonathan column. I see President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) working hard to and actually delivering the South/West for Jonathan. But IBB may pull surprises in the South/West due mainly to the activities of the rump of Afenifere working against Jonathan to spite OBJ. IBB is capitalizing on that even though he had earlier sought the blessings of OBJ for his candidacy. That, in part, explains why he chose the historical capital of the South/West, Ibadan, to launch his campaign that never was. Although the ghost of MKO Abiola will forever haunt IBB in the South/West, don’t be surprised that those who harbor deep hatred for OBJ in the zone will work against the emergence of Jonathan regardless.

Besides that, the very double-faced character of many politicians in the region which is glibly passed off as “diplomacy” should be another source of concern for Jonathan, although it could cut both ways to undermine IBB as well. Though some may pretend to support IBB he might well turn out to be a victim of a set up to humiliate him. The embarrasing abortive launch of his presidential campaign in Ibadan ostensibly due to unfavorable security reports might very well be part of an elaborate plot to disgrace him in the heartland of the Yorubas.  He has put the wrong foot forward, which is bad omen for his campaign from the get go. The IBB campaign train has gotten off to a squeaky start.   

That said, there are lots of Brutuses in that part of the nation who would dine with you in the day and stab you in the back in the night with a smile on their faces. Many would not bat an eye betraying Abiola by going for IBB in the region. While all the other zones are now declaring their stances regarding Jonathan’s candidacy, the South/West keeps mum as a group except for a few individuals like the Oyo and Ogun state governors who have spoken out publicly in favor of Jonathan’s candidacy. No offense intended, but trust many in the region to play Judas Iscariot in the South/West and that would be in character. Yet as indicated above it could cut either or both ways. Many could be itching to humiliate him once and for all for what he did to MKO Abiola using the opportunity of his candidacy to settle old political scores. Deserting his campaign launch may well be the first salvo.   

 

South/East

Unlike the South/West, Ndigbo is a straight player when it comes to politics. When they give you their word, take it as their bond, no but, if, or when. It’s either yes or no, no faking it. Ndigbo shoots straight. And unlike the South/West also, Ndigbo wants to be and remain in the mainstream of Nigerian politics, not on the periphery of tribal parties. To the extent therefore that Jonathan is the leader of the mainstream, ruling political party on which platform he will run, he can count on the support of Ndigbo in real time not faked for the cameras. Doublespeak is not the tool kit of the South/West.

I project the South/East going full-throttle and full-scale for Jonathan with terrible showing by IBB in the zone to the point of being disgraced out. This will be evident right from the PDP primaries should IBB choose to remain in the PDP to contest the primaries. The fact that both PDP and non-PDP governors went to receive the PDP chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, after his appointment as the PDP chair, coupled with the fact that all the governors from the zone had declared their lack of interest in the presidency, undoubtedly to make way for Jonathan, should be seen as pointer to where their allegiances lie.

I project that nearly all of the sitting governors in the region will retain their seats under the PDP, including the governor of Abia state who is already in a love affair with the PDP, in return for their support for the Jonathan candidacy. And Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state is on the side of history and national renewal. He will readily lend his support for the Jonathan presidential project even against Ojukwu’s advice. He has put his electoral battles behind him and so has nothing to fear from the Nkemba. And he has President Jonathan to thank for it for allowing INEC to do its job without interference from either the presidency or the PDP. Obi could easily have lost his seat to Dr. Chris Ngige or Prof. Charles Solubo but for President Jonathan’s stance. That’s what has brought some credibility to the present INEC that the new head will surely build upon.  

I permute that Ohaneze, the Igbo socio-cultural organization will not play any discernible role in this unlike its AREWA and Afenifere counterparts in the North and West respectively.

IBB will be disgraced out in the end, but unlike Buhari he will not contest the results in court. As a matter of fact his candidacy is wavering at the moment but he will still plod ahead having gone thus far in preparations. It’s too late for him to withdraw as defeat stares him in the face. He will be abandoned by his former military and political aides as a spent bullet with no fire left in him because Nigeria has moved beyond his types.

I permute that the Nkemba of Nnewi, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu will try to lend him a helping hand just for the heck of it, but it will be too little too late for that to change IBB’s political fortunes in the South/East. The Ibos will not pitch their tent with a dead horse even though IBB will try to lure them with a promise to hand over power to the Ibos after doing just one term in office. But no one will swallow that bait from him due to his past antecedent. He is his own worst enemy as his atrocious past eventually catches up with him.

Besides that, Ndigbo is keenly aware that given its historical records and attitude towards the region, the North would prefer to support the South/South to produce the next president in 2015 after its turn might have run out should the presidency be zoned to the North now till 2015. Therefore, any promise from the North to Ndigbo of supporting the zone to produce the president in 2015 is at best an empty promise and at worst an insult to its intelligence. It’s the bait that would not make a catch.  

On the other hand, Jonathan will be seen by the generality of Ndigbo as their very own for historical reasons in that he hails from the part of the country that was part and parcel of the old eastern region including Port Harcourt where the south/south leaders met to endorse Jonathan. But for the splitting of Nigeria into 12 states in 1967, Jonathan would have been the candidate from the eastern region. He will thus be seen as straddling both South/East and South/South, the two regions that have not tasted power except for the South/East that had a brief spell with the late General Agui Ironsi.

I, therefore, permute Ndigbo trusting Jonathan more than any other candidate to take care of its developmental interests that have been lingering since the end of the civil warm, because IBB had been in power for 9 years and left Ndigbo high and dry. Unkike OBJ who packed his cabinet with Ibo intellectuals, from Professors Charles Solubo, Osuji Fabian, Bartholomew Nnaji, Mauric Iwu, and Dora Akinyuli to Drs. Oby Ezekwesili, Ngozi Iweala, just to mention but a few who graced the Obasanjo cabinet, it is hard to point to any significant appointments of Ndigbo sons and daughters during the IBB dictatorship. In fact, he forced out Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe who was the Chief of General Staff in the IBB regime due to his forthrightness and straight shooting and replaced him with Admiral Augustus Aihkomu from Edo state. However, when it came time to do the dirty jobs, he reached out to assign them to Ndigbo sons in the persons of AGF Clement Akpamgbo and Arthur Nzeribe whom he used to scuttle the people’s mandate on June 12, 1993.  It’s doubtful if Ndigbo will forget that recent history in a hurry. 

For Ndigbo, Jonathan is as good as having a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction and will handle the needs of the zone just as he would the needs of Niger Delta, which of course, extends to the South/East as welll including Abia and Imo states. The zone can therefore not go wrong with Jonathan anymore than the Yorubas might go wrong, for instance, with say, Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara state becoming the Head of State. He would readily be viewed as one of them though from the so-called North.

The same could be said about Jonathan and Ndigbo and both parties know it.The recent meeting of the governors of the zone with Jonathan in Abuja where they laid out their demands for infrastructural development of the zone and Jonathan’s commitment to their demands, including, but not limited to the Enugu International Airport and second Niger Bridge projects, should therefore be seen in the light of the political undercurrents at play.  Jonathan may have sealed a deal with the zone as he has with South/South.

 

South/South, North/Central, and North/East

I forecast Hurricane Jonathan making landfall in the South/South with wind gusts up to 130mph, making it a monstrous Category 5 hurricane. Naturally, its effects will be strongest in the South/South from where it will sweep through the South/East and South/West, and all the way through the Middle Belt with only slightly reduced strength. Its outer bands will be strongly felt in the North/East and tapering off in the North/West.

The South/South should brace up when Hurricane Jonathan hits. And there is every indication that it is more than ready to absorb the gale force wind. And that is perfectly understandable. The South/South is the engine room of the Jonathan candidacy for obvious reasons. He hails from the zone. The zone will, therefore, naturally provide the captains of his ship.

But he will also find ready captains and co-captains in the North/Central who have been itching to break loose their yoke from the Sokoto Caliphate, right from the time of their political icon, Joseph Tarka. The driving force in the region is their political liberation and emancipation from the Hausa/Fulani tutelage and patrimony. This fervent desire is even stronger today than it was five decades ago at independence and has found expression at every given opportunity to assert itself. And that explains Governor Akume and former AGF Aondoakaa and Godwin Daboh’s support for Jonathan’s candidacy. That also explains Governor Jang’s support for Jonathan in Plateau state. This zone has always gone in an opposite direction to the Hausa/Fulani block in almost all elections.  

While there are sold outs in the zone who would want to maintain the status quo and might join forces with either Buhari and IBB in the name of the North, the historical struggle of the peoples of the zone to break loose and be set free is bound to trump the antics of sold outs and traitors in the zone working for their individual political survival.

The North/East has historically always acted as a counterpoise to the Sokoto Caliphate right from the time of the Borno Empire. Historically, it is not part of the Sokoto Caliphate and resents its dominance in Northern affairs. These cleavages are deep and remain so even today. The notion of “One North” is, therefore, a political myth deplored to paper over and white-wash these deep political cleavages by putting up a façade of a non-existent Northern unity, which is always unraveled in democratic elections. Jonathan’s support from this zone is, therefore, assured if he plays well his political cards by reaching out and taking the zone into confidence. The fact that he chose his VP Alhaji Sambo from Kaduna state is a step in the right direction and sound political calculation.

North/West

The North/West is the home and the spiritual headquarters of the Sokoto caliphate. Although it is presently under the control of the PDP, that control cannot be guaranteed to outlive the next general elections. And the reason has nothing to do with a threat of another party takeover, but everything to do with its staunch support for zoning the presidency to the North by the ruling party at the center.

If there is going to be any rebellion from any quarters against the dumping of the zoning arrangement, it will come from no other than this arch conservative zone. If Buhari plays his cards well in the zone, he could reap bountiful political benefits from this zone at the expense of the Jonathan, IBB and Atiku even though it is a PDP zone currently. 

Bafarawa’s DPP will not make a dent in this zone unless as noted earlier Buhari’s CPC goes into alliance with it and that would spell trouble for the PDP.  However, we can count IBB out of this zone completely. He will not make any headway in Buhari’s backyard and might not even try to. However, it remains to be seen whether this zone will follow through with its opposition to Jonathan by dumping the PDP and being in the opposition party. Jonathan has its work cut out in this zone. 

 

Strategic Advantage in the North

That said, the multiplicity of parties and candidates coming from this part of the country is sure to produce fragmented votes that can only benefit the PDP and Jonathan in the final analysis. That consideration alone is enough to make the zone have a rethink and retrace its steps back to the PDP fold and remain in the big tent to fight another day. And when that day comes as it surely must it will need the support of the South/South as it has always been in the past. It is time to reciprocate that solid support and not be greedy. It will amount to an unpardonable and unforgivable betrayal if the zone maintains its opposition to Jonathan’s candidacy under the cover of zoning. That is an unacceptable subterfuge. Nigeria is not ending today and the presidency will surely come to it in the near future. Why must it be now when it has always had it in the past?

One must, therefore, be disappointed in the stance of the likes of Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa state whom one had thought to be a progressive rather than the incorrigible ethnic champion he has turned out to be. It’s a shame. It is, however, hoped that saner heads will prevail in the end. It all depends on how the PDP finally resolves the zoning issue and the inevitable accompanying tradeoffs.

I project the South/South, South/East, South/West and North/Central, and the North/East going for Jonathan leaving the North/West for IBB Muhammadu Buhari and Shekerau to split up amongst themselves. Though he had pinned his hope on PDP zoning the presidency to the North, a hope that is fast evaporating into thin air with even the 19 Northern Governors’ Forum declaring in their official communique that Jonathan is free to run, I don’t see Abubakar Atiku running for the presidency or if he runs at all, making any dent.  But he could throw his support to IBB rather than to Buhari. He seems to be hobnobbing with IBB lately with both as the arrowheads of the so-called Northern opposition to the dumping of the PDP zoning formula. Atiku is a spent force and a political liability that is running from pillar to post to actualize the mirage he had been pursuing in his dreams. He may end up getting expelled again from the PDP.

I predict another gentleman’s agreement in the offing in the PDP designed to truncate the constitution. I permute Northern leaders of thought extracting or attempting to extract some concessions from Jonathan not to go beyond one term and quit in 2015 as pre-condition for their support. This is again underlined by the communique of the Northern Governors Forum which has called for more “consultations” in order to take care of the “interests” of all concerned. But it will not hold water because zoning is dead in the pan however much the PDP tries to revive it for future elections. And anyone resorting to that illegal and unconstitutional contrivance to deprive some people or regions from exercising their constitutional rights to contest elections into any office will have his fingers burnt in the end.

For the records their communiqué reads in part as follows:

“The supremacy of the 1999 Constitution as encapsulated in Section 1; the provision of Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution, which states the qualifications for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Arising from the above therefore, the forum acknowledges the right of President Goodluck Jonathan and indeed any other Nigerian to legitimately and constitutionally contest for the office of the president.

“On zoning, the forum recognizes the fact that the issue of zoning is a PDP affair as contained in Section 7(2c) of the party constitution.”

That reads like a wholesale lift right from my previous article that is currently running titled: Lazy Man’s Road To Power: Ten Reasons To Dump Zoning
 

But that’s alright. I’m gratified that they have adopted my position. They don’t need to formally endorse Jonathan like their South/South counterparts, because they cannot be seen to collectively endorse Jonathan over their own sons who are also running. It is impolitic and politically incorrect to do so and they played smart. All they need do is recognize Jonathan’s right to contest, which they have done and that speaks volume. Chikena! Politically, therefore, the Northern roadblock has been cleared and the entire coast is clear for Jonathan to run. Zoning argument has been laid to rest with this declaration from the Northern Governors’ Forum. And this is without prejudice to whatever arrangement that the PDP might come up with regarding or in place of zoning. The party is, however, advised not to touch the presidency if it wants to do zoning. The presidency belongs to all Nigerians. It could do zoning of party offices without touching the presidency. Zoning of party offices should take its cue from the presidency. Once the presidency and vice presidency have gone to a particular zones, party offices could be zoned to the other zones. That way the sanctity of the presidency will be left undefiled and unencumbered by party arrangements. It’s a national not party office.

The Parties: (PDP)

I see the PDP finally putting its house in order before the next elections and doing a lot of trade-offs with other party governors to support Jonathan in exchange for their re-election. I see this happening in virtually all the states currently being run by non-PDP governors, including even Edo state in the South/South. I see Edo state Governor, Adams Oshiomhole chickening out of his romance with IBB having seen the handwriting on the wall and grudgingly throwing his support behind Jonathan as a trade-off for his second term election. I see this happening also in Ondo and Lagos states in particular.

I see the party consolidating on its achievements and proving once and for all that it can indeed win elections in a free and fair contest and thus claim legitimate victory. Thanks to Jonathan whose goodwill and commitment to electoral integrity, coupled with the appointment of Nwodo as PDP chairman, have robbed off positively on the image of the once despised party unlike the scandalous image of the PDP under the OBJ and Yar’Adua administrations respectively.

This goodwill is a huge political asset for Jonathan and the PDP more than anything else that should place the party on a sound public footing in the forthcoming general elections. I, therefore, see the party making a clean sweep of the South/South, South/East, and North/Central totally and completely with no dust left for other parties. I see it substantially clearing out South/West and North/East, with a respectable showing in the North/West to complete its routing of the other political parties at the poll.

I predict moon slide victory for the PDP, effectively turning Nigeria into a one party state as earlier indicated. That is not my wish though, but no thanks to anemic opposition.

 

Buhari’s Trump Card

That said, though the opposition has tried and failed in the past, I’m still inclined to entertaining the possibility of some of the mushroom opposition parties agglomerating at the eleventh hour and possibly coalescing into one political entity or a somewhat loose federation with Buhari at the center of its universe to give the PDP a run for its money.

Buhari’s strategic plan, however, is to stop IBB from becoming the PDP nominee. That explains why he has been vocal in condemning the PDP zoning and has kept his distance from the IBB/Atiku sponsored meetings in the name of the North. Buhari is keenly aware that zoning the presidency to the North would translate to the PDP’s presidential apple falling into the waiting hands of IBB and that might spell doom for his chances in the North.

With Jonathan in the game and IBB and Atiku denied the PDP slot, Buhari is counting on the North going for him rather than to Jonathan or any other candidate. And this is so regardless of whether or not Atiku and IBB contest under different party platforms. They would have been sufficiently damaged and undermined by the PDP as rejects to pose any real threat to him, particularly in the Northern parts of the country.

His consistent attacks on PDP zoning therefore has nothing to do with his love for Jonathan’s candidacy but borne out of strategic imperatives. Watch out for Buhari’s moves.

The Parties: (AC)

I see the Action Congress (AC) holding on strongly to Lagos if Governor Tunde Fashola is not forced out of the party by his estranged political godfather, Bola Tinubu otherwise it will fall to PDP, which will be a tall dream, anyway. Fashola’s stellar performance makes Lagos a safe bet for AC at least for now.

The party cannot, however, sleep with its two eyes closed when it comes to Edo state. As indicated earlier, Oshiomhole cannot be counted on to deliver the state or even to remain in the party at all if his antecedents are anything to go by. What he did to the Labor Party in 2007 could be visited on the AC at the very last minute, when coupled with the Jonathan factor. Edo state is, therefore, not a safe bet for the AC at all. My gut feeling is AC will likely lose the state to the PDP in the final analysis, no thanks to Hurricane Jonathan.  

The Parties: (ANPP)

For all practical purposes the ANPP is dead and awaiting the arrival of the undertakers with the departure of General Buhari from its fold. It is one of the greatest tragedies that have befallen the nation in recent times. This party that was on equal footing with the PDP at the inception of this dispensation in 1999 has suddenly gone under, grounded by political incompetents and unprincipled democratic pretenders. Had that not being the case, the ANPP would have readily become the alternative to the PDP at a time the PDP had shot itself in the foot and Nigerians were yearning to see its back for good. They found no alternative to the PDP in the ANPP, but a crisis ridden, unfocused and ineffective party that was bleeding from the inside.

Now it has been bled to death and its funeral will be announced soon. The only thing that might prevent that from happening is the Kano state governor, Ibrahim Shekerau, a Buhari nemesis who is said to enjoy a measure of popularity in the state.  If that popularity carries through, ANPP might just be reduced to the status of AC and that is as good as dead for a party that once controlled seven states and substantial number of members in the National Assembly. Buhari’s dumping of the party was a kiss of death.

However, I see Muhammadu Buhari himself suffering a poor outing in the presidential election with his Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) party unless he manages to go into major alliances with other political parties to field him as their common candidate as indicated earlier. That may well happen to breathe some life into his epileptic candidacy. Other than that he may very well drop out of the race because at the moment his support base has dwindled drastically to the point of extinction. A mega partnership could be a shot in the arm for Buhari as noted above. It’s all still up in the air.

Political Parties: (APGA)

The crisis ridden APGA will not be in contention in the next general elections because it has had its own in Anambra state unless the Abia state Governor, Chief Orji remains in its fold which is highly unlikely. The dream of Ojukwu to cast APGA as the party of the Ibos, which could be used to negotiate with the rest of the country will not materialize anytime soon largely because the Ibos are too republican and independent minded to be corralled into a regional conclave.

Instead of hunkering down in their domain as ethnic champions with a political party of their own to be used as a weapon to indirectly exert pressure at the center, the Ibos would very much wish to be seated directly at the big table that is offered by the PDP and grab their shares, just like the others. The new PDP chair said that much when he stormed Abia state to drag its governor into the PDP fold. Watch out for the Ibos to forcefully take their place in the PDP leaving APGA in the lurch.  And who knows, APGA itself may very well end up in the belly of the beast, the PDP to complete the routing.

Finally

I predict peaceful and credible elections taking place in 2011 with INEC finally redeeming its battered image at home and abroad. However, there will be pockets of violence and irregularities here and there that will not in any way mar the overall results and credibility of the elections.

I saw Nigeria finally getting it right and becoming the bastion of democracy in Africa at long last.

I saw Nigeria being the toast of the world and Nigerians holding their heads high again wherever they found themselves.

I heard them proudly proclaiming themselves Nigerians for the first time in a long while.

Yes, I saw a nation reborn with her citizens brimming with hope and aiming for the skies and a giant suddenly jolted and woken up from its slumber to take her rightful place in the comity of nations.

And finally, I looked at my crystal ball, and lo and behold, I saw the inauguration of Africa’s Obama on May 27, 2011, as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a keenly contested, universally acknowledged, free, fair and credible elections, in his own right not as default president.

Yes, I saw a confident Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan resplendent in his flowing Izon traditional attire specially made for that occasion raising his right hand and taking the Oath of Office and the Oath of Allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

And I saw men and women of substance from Niger Delta shedding tears of joy at the magnificent sights of the inauguration of Nigeria’s Obama. And I heard a loud cry from the mammoth throng at the stadium chanting: Long live Nigeria! Long live the nation!!

I caught it all in my crystal ball to share with the world. And so shall it be. Amen!

 

Franklin Otorofani, Esq. contact: mudiagaone@yahoo.com



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