Who Would Give PDP The Presidency Come 2011?
The electoral contest for the presidency in Nigeria in the 2011 general elections is going to be a straight fight between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Buhari was in 2003 and 2007 the presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He left the party in protest against the mercantile politics of the then party Chairman, Chief Edwin Umeozeoke, his running mate, who clearly had sold the soul of the party for a messy pot of political porridge to the PDP.
Political parties are yet to hold their presidential primaries to pick a candidate but it is clear that Buhari is surely going to pick the ticket in his party. So far there is no aspirant for the position in his party and indeed aspirants to all other offices use his name as the talismanic wand for endearing themselves to party faithful. In the PDP, the two leading aspirants for the party's ticket are the president, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Alhaji Atiku Abuakar.
Since 1992-93, Atiku has been a presidential hopeful and was certain that in 2007 the presidency was his for the asking until his over-ambitious role in the 2003 presidential primaries where governors of the PDP plotted with him to oust Obasanjo. The humiliation that his boss President Obasanjo suffered to be returned was the basis for the vicious harassment of Atiku by a very vindictive Obasanjo in his second term vice presidency which was intensify in the months leading to the 2007 presidential elections. This made it impossible for Atiku to as much as remain in the party on his ticket he emerged as vice president.
Abubakar, former two term vice president in the Obasanjo presidency from 1999 to 2007 was the candidate of the Action Congress in the 2007 presidential elections. His leaving the PDP was occasioned by Obasanjo's desire to elongate his tenure to which Abubakar was opposed as he was unwilling to wait beyond 2007 for the presidency. As a result of the disagreement, Obasanjo created several battles for him and he went to court and got victory against most of the decisions. Suffice to note here that Atiku´s primitively raw ambition to be president even at the humiliation of the president and bringing the office of the presidency into ridicule gravely weakened the office of the vice president. Actions of the late President Yar Adua short presidency is a testimony.
However, he failed in the strategic goal which was to clinch the presidency in 2007.
Immediately after the 2007 elections and his failure at the courts to get the presidency or even get a second bite at the electoral cherry by going for a re-run, Atiku saw the futility of contesting on an opposition platform. Atiku, as he is popularly called, has never been used to the hue of opposition politics and has largely relied on government patronage all of his public life for progress. This has made it almost impossible for him to see the opposition platform as a viable agenda. In short, insufficient power.
It was the realization of his precarious situation in the opposition that informed his return to the PDP from what some analysts considered his political wilderness. Unfortunately, his return was not as smooth as he would have wanted as it was dogged by controversy. From his council ward to his state and eventually to the National Working Committee of the PDP, he had to fight to come back into the party. The grant of a waiver - unprecedented and unjustified gift to him to enable him contest the 2011 elections has raised so much dust which dust is yet to subside.
To further compound, Atiku's problems, 3 other aspirants from the Muslim North threw their hats into the ring for the PDP ticket. Amongst these other 3 was a former head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida. It was clear to Atiku and the rest that challenging the incumbent president was not going to be a feat that could be achieved at all if they were all to go into electoral battle with him.
The device to give Atiku a foothold was therefore a fall back on region, cynicism and hypocrisy, undergirded by inchoate religious fervor. The game was acceptable to Babangida who believed he had a stronghold in the nation and the North in particular to get him the Northern ticket. Unknown to IBB, he was not aware of the deep conspiracy against him and fell for Atiku's game. The consensus option which was a script from Atiku eventually threw him up and set the stage for a contest in the presidential primaries of the party as the main challenger to the president's aspiration with a Northern-Muslim ticket in his hand. Against this background, would Nigeria give Atiku the presidency in 2011 elections?
On the other hand, the president has been a child of necessity in his political career. From his appointment as the running mate of the former governor of Bayelsa state who was later impeached to pave way to the president to emerge as governor of his native state to his appointment as running mate to the late president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua who demise paved the way for the president's ascendancy to the presidency, he has been in the public realm for a period of 12 years.
In these period, the president has garnered experience beyond his expectations. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has emerged as savvy, politically sophiticated and the most exotic of Nigerian political elites - the bureaucrat unbound, candid with a goal getter attitude of letting his achievement speaks for him. No big promises but producing results. He upends his government priorities, demotes the generator import-industrial empire and promotes the immediate need of upgrading power generation with the establishment of power generation industrial empire for the country. He fired and wage war against the fuel-scarcity mafia. Fuel price have remained stable and fuel stations well supplied. Fuel scarcity, high fuel price and long quence 'petrol station' are now history. A free and independent Judiciary. He has empowered INEC with all necessary new life and sets of leadership with full financial and material tools armed for a symmetrical struggle to give Nigeria a free and fair election. He has given all arms of the nation security forces the tactical changes of investigating all acts of terror instead of writing them off to a group and everybody going to sleep. A Special Adviser on Terror is coming. Nigeria is getting new Federal Universities. Education in 2011 would receive the biggest boost since Independence. His Build Up Nigeria campaign have given and created a great sense of nationalism, patriotism and a strong love for a united Nigeria.
In truth, President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been bulletproof with the everyday success of his government. Today Nigerians feel better off now than they did six months ago. He has also improved in rating from month to month and his confidence has increased tremendously. His mission has become to put Nigeria in a better place.
Ekiyorbomode A. Edotimi, Director-General, Nigerian Progressive Group, writes from Germany.