Re- Jonathan 2015 and the Parable of the Prostitute
Having read the article entitled “Jonathan 2015 & the Parable of the Prostitute” published on Saharareporters.com on the 4 th of March, I found myself in agreement with aspects of the electoral configuration alluded to and disagreeing with others.
The performance of the Jonathan Presidency (if objectively considered) is a bit of a mixed bag. It has excelled in some parts of economic management such as reduced level of yearly inflation to 8% a year, relatively low interest rate levels, stable levels of the Naira (although this has been due more to increased central bank interventions than the effects of balance of payments performance), consistent 6-7% of yearly GDP growth (which was the yearly averagely GDP growth recorded by Nigeria since 2000) and the substantial increase in the Gross National Income of Nigeria. Ironically, a significant portion of its successes can be attributed to the sound macro economic policies of the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (who has made up for the average macro economic performance of the Finance Ministry).
Its failings have been the incompetent handling of Boko haram, its incompetent handling of the Fulani herdsmen led clashes all over Nigeria, persistent oil theft in the Niger Delta, its significantly increased debt profile, its lack of foresight in dealing with (x) curtailing the large scale exit of the huge multi-nationals from the countries oil and gas sector and the effect that will have on future earnings of the country and (y) the shrinking market for Nigeria's oil and gas exports over the next decade due to the surge of US shale oil, Nigeria's persistent budget deficits, perceived increase in official corruption and the ineffectiveness of the EFCC and ICPC under Jonathan, significant fall in the FDI from 2012 onwards (which is indicative of reduced confidence in the Jonathan presidency) and the unconscious increase in sectionalism in Nigeria.
I concur with the view that Buhari is at one and the same time the major electoral asset and hindrance of the APC. It is true that with Buhari, 13 states of the North West and North East and Niger state of North Central will or should be in his column. The votes of Nassarawa state will be split (with a slight advantage to Jonathan). I also agree that the only viable vice presidential choice for APC will be Governor Fashola. That choice will ensure (x) SW votes for APC and (more crucially for a zone that has the second highest numbers of registered votes but one of the lowest numbers of actual voters of any zone) (y) a high turn out of SW voters.
Fashola will, therefore, add to the APC column, the 7 predominantly Yoruba states (which includes Kwara) and will increase the share of the votes obtained by the APC in Kogi.
That gives the APC 20 of the 36 states. APC should have strong runner up performances in Nassarawa, Kogi and Benue states. Edo state is the sole swing state. Where EdoState will go is presently unclear.
Religion and the SW
At this point in the game, the muslim/ muslim angle is irrelevant in so far as the chances of the APC winning is concerned. Its only viable way of winning the election is through the NE, NW and SW. Its sole concern will therefore be how to reassure the Yoruba Christians as opposed to Christians generally. The APC will not win sizeable votes in the SE or the SS. That part of the Christian population is therefore unobtainable. For the Yoruba, Fashola is not seen as being identifiable with religious politics or any religion. He is hardly seen in a mosque. I honestly do not think that Yoruba Christians will vote for President Jonathan if vice presidential candidate Fashola is one of the persons on the APC ticket (especially if the APC fields a number of Yoruba Christian candidates for gubernatorial positions in Yoruba states).
Jonathan is widely seen as anti-Yoruba. It will be politically expedient for Buhari to make it very clear that in his government, Fashola will be a powerful vice president with significant duties to be delegated to him. He may also have to state what Fashola's duties will be. An enpowered vice president Fashola is more likely to get the SW on board in overwhelming numbers. This strategy is believable because Buhari (like Obasanjo before and after him) have histories of empowering their second in command to be very powerful political figures.
The biggest strategic blunder for the APC would be to pick a vice presidential candidate from the SE or SS. The SE is firmly in the president's column. That will not change even if someone from the SE is picked as the vice presidential candidate. Secondly, the SW will not come out to vote in significant numbers for Buhari if the APC fields a SE candidate. I think that analysis also holds true for a running mate of SS extraction.
Its pick must therefore do two things. It must ensure that the SW has a huge stake in the election and translate the huge numbers of registered SW voters into actual voters. A Fashola pick by Buhari and a clear and unequivocal statement of the dominant role he would play in a federal government under Buhari should do the trick.
A northern Christian would be a very good pick if only that ticket would still be guaranteed the support of Buhari's supporters. If the 2011 elections is anything to go by, Buhari's support is not transferable. The CPC carried almost all core Northern states but its gubernatorial candidates only won in one state and its senatorial candidates only made minor in roads. The issue then is will the core North support a Northern Christian against a Southern Christian? May be! Not a risk I would take though.
The APC will have to thread the needle and apply the wisdom of Solomon in its choice of presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate. What it cannot do is alienate General Buhari. The support of Buhari is critical to the chances of the APC.
Additionally, it has to pick the right SW vice presidential candidate as well. A non- descript SW candidate will not motivate the Yoruba to come out in significant numbers. The SW running mate must be a known performer and there must be an explicit commitment by Buhari that that candidate will be a very powerful vice president with identifiable duties being delegated to that candidate.