Jonathan Versus Buhari: Who Wins?

Jonathan Versus Buhari: Who Wins?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:48 am

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

President Goodluck Jonathan, the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, will square off against Muhammadu Buhari , the candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress for the second time in the 2015 presidential elections. Here is a periscope of the factors that may influence the voters at the polls as well as the chances of winning the polls this time around

The frenetic pace of political activities across Nigeria ahead of the 2015 general election gained further tractions last week as the two main political parties, the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, successfully settled the issue of their candidates for the 14 February presidential election at their National Conventions held in Abuja and Lagos respectively the penultimate week. Leaders of APC spent better part of last week deliberating on the choice of the Vice President who can add value to General Muhammadu Buhari, its presidential candidate in a grueling process which eventually resulted into the selection of Professor Yemi Osibajo, a former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Lagos State.

The PDP was on its part busy tackling the various protests that had arisen across the country over the conduct of primaries to chose its candidates for different positions in the impending elections. Various groups and aspirants had warned the ruling party that it risks losing its position as the dominant party in Nigeria after the next general elections if the protests from the primaries were not well handled. However, going from reactions from its officials and the Nigerian presidency, by far the biggest concern of the ruling party seemed to be the emergence of Buhari as the presidential candidate of APC.

•Jonathan: May not find it easy in 2015.

•Jonathan: May not find it easy in 2015.

In addition, it would appear PDP seemed determined to pummel the former head of state to submission even before the elections with the various attacks that have been unleashed on him both in the online and mainstream media since his emergence. Leading the pack of wolves against Buhari was the self-styled presidency “attack lion,” Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs. Okupe was still making the rounds of media houses across the country telling Nigerians why the APC presidential candidate should not be touched even with a long stick as at the time of writing this story last week. He had during a visit to a media house in Lagos described the choice of the former Head of State as presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as a fatal error while dismissing the retired General’s electoral potentials.

“The choice of APC or their decision to elect Buhari as their standard bearer is a fatal error. I have been in this game for nearly 30 years or more. I understand this game of politics very well,” Okupe who ironically has also not won election at any level in his over three-decade sojourn said. “Buhari is not a winner, has never won, and will not win; and it is for a reason that he has never won,” the presidential aide said while emphasizing that the fourth attempt of the former Head of State at the presidency will end up as his previous efforts. Also, speaking at book launch last week, former Dr. Ahmadu Ali, a former national chairman of likened Buhari to an old plane that has been parked for too long, whose functionality cannot be guaranteed.

However, the biggest efforts to damage Buhari’s candidacy seemed to be on social media platforms where various obviously pro-Jonathan groups have set up accounts with the clear objective of dissuading Nigerians from considering the possibility of the former Head of State returning to the number one position in the country. Beyond such veneer, analysts contended last week that the vigorous attacks on the APC candidate by the PDP indicates that the leadership of the ruling party has accepted the clear danger posed to its 16 years occupation of the presidential villa by the retired General. “But my money is on the possibility that they are merely playing political mind-games to mask their trepidation about dueling with Buhari again. But if they indeed believe their own story, I think it will be the height of political naivety to dismiss Buhari’s candidacy at a moment like this,” Waziri Adio, a columnist with ThisDAY newspaper said in his weekly column last week. The PDP argument is no doubt predicated on the fact that the former Head of State has been worsted in his three previous contests against the candidates of the ruling party.

As the presidential candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP in 2003, Buhari squared up against President Olusegun Obasanjo, of the PDP who was then seeking re-election for a second tenure. The APC presidential candidate lost the election, scoring 32.17 per cent of the votes cast to 61.94 per cent. In 2007, Buhari again ran on the platform of ANPP, this time against the late President Yar’Adua of PDP. However, he also lost with only 18.72 per cent of the electorate voting for him, compared to 69.82 per cent for Yar’Adua. Buhari first squared off against President Jonathan in 2011 on the platform the defunct CPC, a party he founded with his associates when they left the ANPP. However, the outcome that was not different from his two previous efforts as Jonathan who got about 59 per cent of the total defeated him votes cast.

This was why officials of the ruling party have not held back in describing the former military Head of State as a serial failure. Buhari will be contesting against Jonathan again in the 2015 elections. “Can this fourth shot at the presidency then be the Buhari moment? Possibly. We will not know the answer to this until the votes are cast and counted in February. One thing is certain though: this is Buhari’s best chance ever as a presidential candidate,” Adio said in his column of last week. Such optimism by the columnist and others is anchored on a number of factors.

APC’s Merger Advantage
One is the fact unlike during his previous outings; Buhari will be contesting against Jonathan in 2015 on the platform APC, which is a merger of key opposition parties Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance. With 14 states under its control, APC, unlike the other political parties the retired General had contested on in the past is a broader platform well represented across the country with 14 States under its control. APC has in its fold four states in the Southwest region, the geopolitical zone with the second highest voting strength and others State like Rivers, Kano, Zamfara and Sokoto States, which also boast of some of the highest population of voters in the country.

•Buhari: Another chance.

•Buhari: Another chance.

The merger has also improved the ability of the opposition to match the ruling party in terms of deploying resources for elections. Analysts have contended that the emergence of APC as a strong competitor to PDP,may eventually move Nigeria to a two-party system and like it has happened in Ghana, ultimately lead to alternation of ruling parties in the country. Thus, the opposition party has provided Buhari with a larger platform with solid imprints in nearly all parts of the country to realize his ambition in 2015. Senator David Mark, President of the Nigeria Senate and a leading member of PDP agreed that PDP now has a stronger opponent in the mega opposition party.

Speaking at the inauguration of the party’s National Campaign Council headed by PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu recently, Mark said in APC, PDP now has a formidable opponent, capable of giving the ruling party a run for its money in all the elections come 2015. “Members of this council have serious work to do as the party’s opponents are serious opponents to contend with,” Mark said few hours after the election of Buhari as the presidential candidate of APC while charging members of the council to double their efforts in canvassing votes from Nigerians, in view of the quality of the opponents that will contest the presidential polls against PDP. Analysts also maintained that Buhari’s fourth time bid for the presidency might benefit from the prevailing sentiment in the Northern part of the country against President Jonathan’s second term ambition.

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