Reasons Jonathan Lost To Buhari (part One)

It is no longer news that Buhari defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in a keenly contested election that took place on 28th March 2015. What is news in this part of the world is the fact that an incumbent President has been beaten in an election he had no business losing. Quite a number of factors contributed to the failure of Jonathan to secure a second term in office.

Before enumerating some of these factors, it is however pertinent to point out that his failure to win a second term is a big blow to the people of Niger Delta and to a reasonable degree the South East too. The disaster that is the outcome of the election stems from the fact that these two regions, especially the South-South appear to have boxed themselves into a tight political corner. How they wriggle out of this would require a political masterstroke. And at the moment, I can't see who, in the region, would be able to anchor such masterstroke because we have evidently played into the hands of those who probably never wanted the region produce a president in the first place.

It was bad politics not to have anticipated what has just played out. Couldn't the regions – South-South and South East - have foreseen that a Buhari presidency was almost inevitable considering the dynamics of power play in the country? If this was anticipated, why did they not have options as to what to do in order not to lose out completely? As it stands presently, the South East region that ensured all its eggs were 'dumped' in one basket has lost both the position of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively for the simple reason that no Senator or member of House of Representative of 'opposition' party (APC) got elected in the whole of the region. In politics, this is an unmitigated disaster especially so in our kind of situation where no else speaks for you unless you are there to partake. The South-South region is worse hit due to the fact that it would lose not only most positions in the government at the centre but also the moral right to complain of marginalization having just fluffed its chances.

The point I am making here is that the political leaders in these regions would have done well to let the 'opposition' candidates, especially the trusted hands return to the National Assembly through whatever kind of political arrangement. Such arrangements would not have affected the outcome of the Presidential elections. But as can be seen, they applied one of Robert Greene's principle “CRUSH YOUR ENEMY TOTALLY” while ignoring another of Greene's principle “….IN VICTORY, LEARN WHEN TO STOP”. By way of emphasis, let me quote Greene's introduction in the latter law: “the moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success get into your head. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR STRATEGY AND CAREFUL PLANNING (emphasis mine). Set a goal, and when you reach it stop.”

Had the leaders of the two regions aimed to install president Jonathan by giving him block votes (this is where their victory should have stopped), they ought to have, on the other hand, reckoned with the fact that the NASS elections should be spread between the two main parties in order not to lose on both ends. They did not. The regions have now to go on political 'oblivion', a high price to pay for political miscalculations.

Again, the South-South region is perhaps the greatest loser. This is a region that had cried of marginalization for decades. The agitation to seek for a voice in government took a violent turn which disrupted oil productions and ultimately almost brought the nation down on its economic knees. As one of the fall outs of the remedies offered by outgoing Obasanjo government, Jonathan was nominated to the position of Vice President. Providence was to take Jonathan to the number one position. Here then was the moment to begin in earnest, the rebuilding and repositioning of the Niger Delta and its environment long degraded by oil exploration and production activities. It was also a moment to consciously embark on capacity building by empowering the people of the region in a manner that they would have them active part in drawing from the wealth obtained from their soil through deliberate policies. Almost six years after, the region remains what it was before their son, Jonathan ascended to power.

I overheard Jonathan boast the other time that he has created millionaires and perhaps billionaires in the course of his administration. He may be right in this assertion; what is however arguable is the spread of the so-called millionaires and billionaires. Has the general populace benefitted from this largesse? Your guess is as good as mine. It is therefore doubtful if the region has much to show for its ascendancy to the seat of power in Aso Rock against the cries of marginalization earlier suffered. This fact was attested to by President Jonathan himself during his campaign tours. In Rivers and in Akwa Ibom states, he was quoted to have lamented that “I know I have not done anything for you during my present tenure, but if you vote me in again for a second term, I will ……” The second term never came. It will not come again in many years if not decades to come. The lesson: use today to do what you can; never procrastinate.

There are many factors that contributed immensely to the failure of Jonathan not to secure a second term in office – something that would almost have been taken for granted. Most of these factors were out of his control but he also failed to act on those ones within his capacity to do so. A few of them would suffice.

It is in the open that Jonathan's misunderstanding with Obasanjo started immediately after his being sworn-in in 2011. In sharing political offices then, the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives was believed to have been zoned to the South West with Obasanjo being told to nominate somebody as is the practice in PDP to give slots to god-fathers. Soon after Obasanjo nominated a candidate, Madam First Lady would have none of that. She protested saying she had already promised the women that the position would be occupied by one of them. She won the argument with the husband by whatever means but could not push the dream through in the Chambers as her candidate was roundly beaten in the election of the Speaker of the House. Thus it was not only Obasanjo that felt cheated and betrayed, the entire South West lost the slot. There was no possible way to compensate for this 'great' loss and so the wound refused to heal up to this present election period. Obasanjo felt so bad about this 'betrayal' that he had to openly at some point, ask Aminu Tambuwal to resign as Speaker because he had 'usurped' the position meant for the South West. That never happened. Still on Obsanjo factor, as if the loss of the Speaker's position was not enough, Jonathan and PDP proceeded to install Buruji Kashamu PDP leader in South West to the consternation of Obasanjo who publicly issued disclaimers on Mr Kashamu. He vowed never to be under the subject of Buruji Kashamu for reasons that are already public knowledge. What followed was a chain of reactions which culminated first in Obasanjo writing acidic letters to Jonathan and later tearing his PDP membership card. Thus Jonathan had lost his benefactor, a strong pillar to his presidency. Recall Obasanjo actively campaigned and took Jonathan around the country in 2011 for him to get elected.

The fearless and outspoken governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi was to be the next to be put on the guillotine of PDP. Many people ensured that he Amaechi was never allowed to reconcile with Jonathan. Chief among them was again the First Lady. In the public domain was the incidence that happened in Okrika between the governor and the First Lady where Amaechi was publicly humiliated by madam. The First Lady was to snatch the microphone from Amaechi at a public function with the admonition “Let me warn you, Mr. Governor…..” As if petrol was poured on fire, other dramatic events followed which destroyed whatever was left of their alignment. Next was the issue of campaign posters linking Amaechi to Vice Presidential slot on the ticket of Sule Lamido. In spite of his constant denials, Amaechi was not believed. He was seen as a betrayer of Jonathan. Things were going from bad to worse.

Eminent citizens of Rivers state had to intervene to broker several peace accords that never lasted as forces within their circle fueled further crises. This situation then, perhaps, informed the decision to send a Commissioner of Police who would stand up to Amaechi. CP Mbu was the choice. The rest, as you say, became history. Recall also that in one of the several peace accords that saw Jonathan sat with Amaechi to reconcile their political differences, it was alleged the two parties agreed on certain terms part of which was the redeployment of CP Mbu from Rivers state. Information later surfaced that as soon as madam, the First Lady again heard of this agreement, she swiftly went to work against the spirit of the understanding. She disagreed and put her feet down that Mbu would go nowhere. The Rivers state crises grew from strength to strength leading to attempts to impeach Amaechi by a few members of the Rivers state House of Assembly. This plot was believed to have the active support if not direct sponsorship of the First Lady. From this moment on, Amaechi was to throw in everything he had in his arsenal if he was not to end his tenure ingloriously.

In the mix of players who wanted Amaechi out, names like Gov Godswill Akpabio come up for mention. Akpabio was to publicly refer to Amaechi as one of the “Judases” that must be thrown out of the boat of PDP. He got his wish as Amaechi had to decamp from PDP but the party became a tumultuous boat tossed from one end of political wind to another. In the midst of these cracks, Nyesom Wike entered having noticed a window of opportunity to actualize his dream. He seized on the opportunity with both hands applying another of Robert Green's theory: “people have overwhelming desire for something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow”. Amaechi was to become an unrepentant critic of Jonathan, opposite of what he did in 2011. In 2011, Amaechi campaigned vigorously for Jonathan. He was lost in 2015 election campaigns for Jonathan. A big loss no doubt.


By far one of the most contributory factors to Jonathan's woes in seeking re-election was madam herself, albeit unintentionally. Earlier listed in a few circumstances above, she was to further hurt her husband's chances by her choice of actions and words. She was believed to be interfering in the political administration of the country to such an extent that quite a number of PDP stalwarts were angered. Even during the campaigns, madam upped the ante by descending on Buhari with uncomplimentary remarks, describing him as brain dead, expired old man, Sharia proponent and loads and tons of other demeaning utterances. She followed these up with calling the North names which no doubt infuriated even those who had sympathy for Jonathan. This further distanced a lot of Northern leaders and voters from Jonathan's second term ambition. Why the President had no control over his wife remains a big issue. Madam carried on as the President II in Nigeria. She dabbled into every political issue leaving in its wake traces of dissatisfaction. This was clearly an avoidable distraction but which Jonathan did nothing to mitigate.

By now, it should become clear to Jonathan that Akpabio has caused more harm than good in his bid to retain power; too late in the day. Akpabio ensured that influential people were kept poles of distance away from the President so his voice would be the only one that counts. After he failed in his bid to unseat the governor of Rivers state as the Chairman of Governors' Forum, a job assigned to him or he offered to undertake, every other steps also taken to diminish the person and influence of Amaechi in national politics misfired. Recall Jonathan had gone to Addis Ababa for AU meeting with assurances from Akpabio that he was going to take care of things concerning Amaechi and the Governor's Forum. Akpabio failed resulting in the now famous new mathematical formula of 16 >19 in Nigeria's political lexicon. Jonathan was said to be so infuriated by the failure of Akpabio to stop Amaechi that he missed his slot of presenting his address at the close of AU meeting the day after the election. To try mitigating the disaster after sensing Amaechi was still wielding influence among the governors, a breakaway faction was sponsored to diminish the effectiveness of the Governors' Forum. As if this was not enough damage, another governors' forum was born and christened “PDP Governors' Forum” headed by none other than Godswill Akapbio. This, in the estimation or understanding of Jonathan and his kitchen loyalists, was to totally crush out what was left of the Nigeria's Governor's Forum. As is always with plans that are not thought through, it misfired.

Akpabio did not look back as he sought to enlarge his coast by spreading his tentacles to other areas of political decisions that would have anything to do with Jonathan's re-election. He strongly believed in his ability to 'single handedly' deliver Jonathan with enough funds from the treasury of Akwa Ibom state. Akpabio had to show Jonathan that he was loyal and so deployed the resources of Akwa Ibom state to every unimaginable cause in pursuit of his vain-glorious influence and empire. As is usual with his loquacious style, he did not disappoint in saying whatever came to his mouth, the consequences he thought very little about. Thus his unguarded utterances also created enemies for Jonathan.

Jonathan has himself to blame for not putting Akpabio where he belongs - miles away from his Presidency. Now the damage has been done, let's see if my 'beloved' governor won't work hard to find favour in the Presidency of Buhari now that Jonathan is history. Let us watch.

One other very destructive move against Jonathan's second term re-election would be the obvious betrayal of Jonathan by governors and other Federal political appointees from the North whom he had put so much trust and even resources on. Jonathan bent over backwards to please the North in every conceivable area of concern in a bid to court their favour. He gave whatever they asked for just to so that he would gain their support. He became a captive in their political plots, most of which he never bothered to keep a close watch on.

To prove the theory of conspiracy against Jonathan by the Northern governors, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger state sacrificed his Senate ambition just so that he does not indirectly work for Jonathan. Sule Lamido who openly attacked Buhari at every turn in the day, seemed to have worked in the President-elect's favour at night or did not do anything at all to push Jonathan's candidacy. On the fact sheet of who is who from the North in Jonathan's political reckoning and among those he held in high trust, one would ask: where did they perform? What did they do to return the good wishes and trust Jonathan extended to most of them even against the interest of his region?

All told, Buhari deserves his victory. He worked hard for it, ignoring all that was thrown at his direction. A lesson for those seeking power; strike a special bond of friendship with the masses and your hold on power would be difficult to break if you can handle the so-called power brokers.

In part two of this write-up, I hope take a look at the problems created by Jonathan himself which seriously worked against his re-election.

In summary, I hold the opinion that Buhari's success in the election appears to be divinely inspired. There was nothing that was not thrown at Buhari. Nothing was too dirty to be hung on his neck. No cost was spared in sponsoring even outright falsehood against the man.


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Articles by Eyenisong Ibibio