Presidential Election And The Mistake Jonathan Must Avoid
Less than one month to the conduct of Presidential and National Assembly elections, President Good Luck Jonathan has been meeting with different interest groups and organizations ahead of the polls. From the market women to professional bodies, the President has met and have discussed with them. All these are aimed at boosting his chances of winning his re-election. But, from every indication, the President is on the verge of making the mistake he had wanted to avoid by accepting to meet with various interest groups in the first place. What is the need for accepting to meet with professional bodies and associations and refusing to meet critical stakeholders who have direct influence on the electorates?
President Jonathan must be reminded that we live in a country where individuals are stronger than the institutions. Second, he should be reminded that whatever opinion the interest groups might have shaped, the deciding opinion lies with the opinion leaders and molders at the grassroots who arms twist the messages they might received from Jonathan's promoters and give different interpretations to them. For example, when the President in one of his Presidential Media Chats, said the case of stealing should be separated from the case of corruption in Nigeria, because most of the cases we call corruption are stealing in their outright senses, but, some of these opinion leaders' arms twisted it. Saying the President said stealing is not corruption. But in actual sense, that was not what he meant. This is the small image of the picture I am trying to paint.
However, at a recent event held at the Presidential Villa to unveil PDP Ward Volunteers Scheme for the election, the President boasted that “He is convinced until this time that there is no party that can defeat the PDP.” He based his judgment on the fact that among all the state owned universities, the ones established by PDP Governors are the best. He also added that it is only PDP Governors that were able to build airports in their states. He further noted that the problem facing the party is under marketing, saying the opposition is attacking the President because the image of the party is being carried by the face of the President and that is why they keep attacking his government which is tantamount to saying that if you strike the shepherd, the disciples will scatter.
Therefore, being mindful of this, the President must not leave any stone unturned. But, from observations so far, critics are of the view that, him not carrying all stakeholders along might result to something else if worse should come to worst.
Similarly, some are asking that since the President has decided to meet every interest group, why not meet those that lost primary elections, and have decided to stay together under PDP Aspirant Forum (PAF)? What will it take from him if he meets with them and recognize their efforts for him despite their inability to clinch the tickets of the party? Why is the President trying to woo other groups while his own family-the umbrella is very porous? Common sense demands that if you want to fight a battle, you must first of all put your house in order before any other thing.
The President should be reminded that the opposition is very formidable this time because they have a strong Presidential candidate. Hence, he should be duly advised that instead of underestimating an opponent in an epical battle of this nature, he should overestimate them by going extra miles in his preparation. These includes bringing all the armories in his theatre to the war front, because if one vote can make him to lose an election, then he should not ignore even the smallest group let alone the largest power bloc in the party which some have described as the Tea Party Movement. He should also be reminded that PDP Aspirants Forum are people who have established and funded their political structures in anticipation to running successful campaigns in all the 36 States, 109 Senatorial Districts, 360 Federal Constituencies, 774 Local Governments and 8, 812 Electoral Wards in the country. Hence, undermining them is like technically conceding defeat to
the opposition before the polls.
In similar vein, at the event in Abuja with the winners for States Houses of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senatorial and Governorship candidates in attendance and whose essence was to brainstorm on how to mobilize grassroots supports for the President ahead of the polls, knowing full well that the battle at the diplomatic level is not favorable to the President, which the Campaign Director-General, Senator Ahmadu Ali said was because the Jonathan's Government refused to support the passage of same sex marriage bill in to law.
Based on the foregoing, President Jonathan should be reminded that why the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe was able to win the 2008 Presidential Election despite strong opposition from the West who supported candidate of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai was because he got the full support of his party-the ZANU-PF as well as the entire Zimbabweans in the prelude to the election. But why the former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo lost the election to Alassane Quattara was because he did enjoy the full support of his countrymen especially those in the northern hemisphere.
Nonetheless, PAF Members are not asking for much. All they are saying is that the President should recognize them the same way he has been recognizing other interest groups which I think is not out of place. To avert the shifting balance of power, the President must act fast!
Comrade Edwin Uhara is a Journalist and Public Affairs Commentator.
He writes from Abuja.
Reach him on 07065862479