In 1992, John Major, the Prime Minister from the Conservative Party who took over from Mrs Margaret Thatcher in 1990 when she was forced to step down, against most expectations won the General Elections of Great Britain against Neil Kinnock of the Labour Party. Elections are held on a Thursday and the Friday edition of the Sun newspaper trumpeted, â€˜Itâ€™s the Sun wot won it!â€™ Needless to say, after John Smith succeeded Kinnock as Leader of the Opposition and unexpectedly died, Tony Blair took over and allied to Gordon Brown, they ensured that the Labour Party won the support of the popular Sun newspaper and its Australian owner, Rupert Murdock. He later became a naturalized American citizen and owns News Corp and 21st Century Fox amongst others. Tony Blair in particular went out of his way to stay in the good books of the Sun newspaper when the Labour Party took over Government because he believed it had a continuing influence on the key swing votes of the white working class. In addition, Gordon Brown ensured that he retained the support of the business community that traditionally support the Conservatives.
Not many predicted the results of the 2015 Presidential elections as they turned out. Many hoped that General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) would defeat Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), whilst probably a smaller number did not expect there would be a change. I had predicted an election too close to call. In truth, I expected GEJ to win more states but GMB to win more of the popular votes. Each was expected to win at 25% in two-thirds of the states, in other words, 24. So, I expected an unusual situation which would have required maturity and clarity of understanding in which the expected winner of more states lost to the winner of most popular votes.
My prediction was as follows:
Table 1A: Prediction 3 Northern Zones
Table 1B: Prediction 2 Certain Zones in South
So, predicted scores going into the expectedly deciding zone of the South West were:
NW: GEJ â€“ 0; GMB â€“ 7
NC: GEJ â€“ 4; GMB â€“ 2
NE: GEJ â€“ 2; GMB â€“ 4
SS: GEJ â€“ 6; GMB â€“ 0
SE: GEJ â€“ 5; GMB â€“ 0
Sub-total: GEJ â€“ 17; GMB 13
The South West was far more difficult to predict because of the Christian-Muslim mix, the large number of non-natives particularly those from the South East and long resident communities of the â€˜coreâ€™North, the absence of a contender from the area, the active involvement of strong men contending for opposite sides â€“ Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu with Lagos as his base and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbekola in Osun versus the Iroko Dr Mimiko in Ondo and the peopleâ€™s champion, Ayodele Fayose in Ekiti. The Lagos base was under pressure more than ever before because of the popularity of Jimi Agbaje the PDP governorship candidate and the voluble determination of residents from the SE to make their number count on the GEJ (and Agbaje) side. In addition, there was the recent history of the zone which has experienced swings for and against the PDP ruling party from 1999 to 2011. Indeed for keen observers of the SW, the zone has historically fluctuated between contenders â€“ AG versus the NCNC, the AG versus NNDP, the UPN versus a relatively weak NPP and the SDP versus the NRC. This fluidity of allegiance was broken only by the UPN in 1979 and 1983 after the people had been able to compare Chief Awolowo to the military, and by the AD in 1999 as the successor party to the UPN. If one includes Edo State which was part of the old Western Region, 3 out of the 6 states did not hold gubernatorial elections. Governors had taken office after winning at the election tribunals which revealed the historical tightness of the election results in the zone.
Table 1C: Expectation in swing Zone of the South West
So, SW guesswork was: GEJ â€“ 2; GMB â€“ 4
TOTAL NATIONAL inclination: GEJ â€“ 19; GMB â€“ 17
VERDICT: Too close to call.
Indeed, was Nigeria going to undergo the American experience of 2000 when Al Gore of the Democratic Party won more popular votes but George W. Bush of the Republican won more delegates? And was adjudged President by a 5-4 split vote of the American Supreme Court stopping the recount in the state of Florida. The number of delegates from Florida decided the overall winner.
Nevertheless, I expected GMB to win more popular votes because of three reasons. One was the vast preponderance of PVCs â€“ permanent voter cards â€“ collected (and produced) in his areas of strength, the NW and the NE compared to the SE and SS where Jonathan was stronger. The other was that GEJ was unlikely to achieve the 25-30% support he needed to blunt the strength of GMB in the NW and NE. Third was that the SW which had the second highest in number of PVCs was a swing zone where the loser was likely to obtain at least 40% of the votes; even if GEJ were able to win 4 rather than 2 states hazarded.
Actual results were as follows:
Table 2: Actual Results by Zones
GMB win; GMB won bigger than expected victory margins in Oyo and Ogun
Actual Overall Result: GEJ â€“ 15 ; GMB â€“ 21 States
State PVCs Registered PVCs Collected Votes Cast APC (GMB) PDP (GEJ)
Jigawa 1,831,276 1,071,889 885,988 142,904
Kaduna 3,407,222 1,650,201 1,127,760 484,085
Kano 4,975,701 2,172,442 1,903,999 215,779
Katsina 2,827,943 1,481,714 1,345,441 98,937
Kebbi 1,470,648 715,122 567,833 100,972
Sokoto 1,611,929 876,369 671,926 152,199
Zamfara 1,495,717 780,179 612,202 144,833
17,620,436 15,999,398 8,747,916 7,115,149 1,339,709
Benue 2,015,452 703,131 373,961 303,737
Kogi 1,350,883 439,287 264,851 149,987
Kwara 1,142,267 461,401 302,146 132,602
Nassarawa 1,242,667 521,641 236,838 273,460
Niger 2,014,317 844,683 657,678 149,222
Plateau 2,001,825 1,000,692 429,140 549,615
9,767,411 Not available 3,970,835 2,264,614 1,558,623
FCT 881,472 316,015 146,399 157,195
10,648,883 8,230,685 4,286,850 2,411,013 1,715,818
Adamawa 1,559,012 661,210 374,701 251,664
Bauchi 2,054,125 1,039,775 931,598 86,085
Borno 1,934,079 515,008 473,543 25,640
Gombe 1,120,023 473,441 361,245 96,873
Taraba 1,340,652 602,716 261,326 310,800
Yobe 1,099,970 491,767 446,265 25,526
9,107,861 6,655,444 3,783,917 2,848,678 796,588
Ekiti 732,021 309,445 120,331 176,466
Lagos 5,822,207 1,495,975 792,460 632,327
Ogun 1,829,534 559,613 308,290 207,950
Ondo 1,524,655 582,435 299,889 251,368
Osun 1,407,107 663,373 383,603 249,929
Oyo 2,415,566 928,606 528,620 303,376
13,731,090 9,238,713 4,539,447 2,433,193 1,819,416
Akwa Ibom 1,680,759 1,028,551 58,411 953,304
Bayelsa 610,373 371,739 5,194 361,209
Cross River 1,175,623 465,906 28,368 414,863
Delta 2,275,264 1,284,848 48,910 1,211,405
Edo 1,779,738 522,785 208,469 286,869
Rivers 2,537,590 1,584,768 69,238 1,487,075
10,059,347 7,710,015 5,258,597 418,590 4,714,725
Abia 1,396,162 401,049 13,394 368,303
Anambra 1,963,173 703,409 17,926 660,762
Ebonyi 1,074,273 393,337 19,518 323,658
Enugu 1,429,221 585,632 14,157 553,003
Imo 1,803,030 731,921 133,253 559,185
7,665,859 6,621,341 2,815,348 184,091 2,464,911
National 68,833,476 56,431,255 29,432,075 15,424,921 12,853,162
Registered Voters 70,382,427
So what won the 2015 Nigerian presidential elections?
In every African country south of the Sahara that the opposition has overturned the incumbent President, it has presented a united front or had contested against a weakened government. In Zambia the opposition united into MMD (Movement for Multiparty Democracy) in 1991 under the popular Frederick Chiluba to defeat the UNIP of Kenneth Kaunda who had been in power for 27 years since Independence in 1964.
The Nigerian unified opposition needed to be led by an acceptable alternative to the office holder. General Buhari had several question marks, but he was clearly the favourite of the Northern talakawa and the middle class, the latter because he was perceived as the likely winner. Same reason Tony Blair got in rather than Gordon Brown who had been senior in Labour Party hierarchy. He even joked that people wanted him to become leader because he was more likely to lead Labour to victory. Rabiu Kwankwaso, good as he was or Abubakar Atiku could never have awakened such enthusiasm. In addition, many all over the country regarded General Buhari as the best man to tackle corruption and a strong military man capable of resolving the security issues. They were unwavering in their determination he should become the President. The cry of â€˜â€™Sai Buhari, Sai Babaâ€™â€™ was heartfelt and was shouted out as enthusiastically in Lagos by Yorubas as in Kano by Hausa/Fulani.
PDP – Too Long in Power
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The PDP had won every Presidential election in Nigeria since return to politics in 1999 and had dominated the states in number of governors and the federal legislature at the Senate and the House of Representatives. Party members had grown arrogant, taking Nigerians for granted. Its central political philosophy seemed to have been to keep Nigeria united, but with the leaders sharing the largesse of power.
The party suffered internal rupture. A key constituent power broker, the ACF â€“ Arewa Consultative Forum – disagreed with the national leadership over GEJ being made President in succession to the late Yar Aâ€™Dua in 2010, and rebelled when he ran and won in 2011. Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and his network had gotten into disagreement earlier with the Yar Aâ€™Dua administration even though he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The disagreement with the Jonathan administration was more public. Finally, a number of governors defied GEJ and left the control of the PDP. Originally 7, the final 5 formed a faction of the PDP recognized by INEC (the Independent National Electoral Commission). Several senators and representatives moved with them into the faction and started to work against the GEJ administration and as part of APC. Former President Obasanjo had his PDP membership card torn up in public glare.
In addition, the Jonathan administration did not fight corruption openly and instead claimed to be using a systemic approach. With respect to the economy, it did not demonstrate achievement on the widespread issue of lack of jobs despite initiatives on job creation and MSME support. The Armed Forces were incapable of tackling the Boko Haram insurgency, which GEJ had inherited from Yar Aâ€™Dua, and lost ground to the terrorists who killed people almost totally indiscriminately; abducted women, girls and children; and perpetrated the most horrendous violence on almost the whole of the North East zone.
The perception was created that GEJ was not capable and was weak. Despite having Reuben Abati who was joined by Doyin Okupe, the narrative in the newspapers, on TV and on social media, was negative. Achievements by various ministries and agencies did not receive sufficient publicity. Most in government did not understand that publicity is the oxygen of democracy. And should have done it very differently. On the other hand, there were a lot of spurious claims, especially on job creation. So, even when there were attempts at publicity, most Nigerians did not believe the government. Initiatives were passed off as achievements. This is not peculiar to Nigeria and is common to most democracies. British governments of whatever colour, are known to repackage the same initiatives and spend as new. So, politicians tend to lose the trust of the electorate and in Nigeria the PDP as the party in power at the federal level, was tarred with that brush. The Conservative government under John Major going into the 1997 General Elections in the United Kingdom was tarred with the accusation of sleaze. And try as he could, he and the party despite using PR practitioners including the famous Saatchi & Saatchi who won the 1979 elections for Margaret Thatcher against James Callaghan the then sitting Prime Minister, were unable to reverse that impression.
One other symptom of being in power for too long was the botched selection process to choose the presidential, governorship and NASS â€“ national assembly â€“ candidates. The APC by comparison executed an apparently transparent and impressively organised selection process to elect their presidential candidate. Governor Fayemi backed by the Lagos State team supervised by Governor Fashola that had run the National Sports Festival did an impressive job. Suddenly, Nigerians who had become dissatisfied with the PDP were able to take a hard look at the APC and clearly saw an alternate government â€“ likely to be more efficient (because of Fashola, Oshiomhole, Amaechi, Kwankwaso etc), less corrupt and more capable on security because of the Presidential candidate, and arguably more representative of the different peoples of Nigeria.
Chibok Girls â€“ initial unbelief followed by inertia
The GEJ administration had proven to be incapable of handling security, as is explained in detail below. However, it was the seizure of over 250 school girls from Chibok, aged between 15 and 18 who had gone to write their examinations, and the inability to do or even attempt to do anything about it, that showed starkly the incompetence and incapability of the Nigerian government headed by Dr Goodluck Jonathan. Former President Obasanjo tried to intervene on a couple of occasions, with and without Government backing. The hashtag â€˜Bring Back Our Girlsâ€™ became globally known. Parents, relatives and sympathizers took up a daily protest to persuade Government to take action. The administration regarded them as an opposition trying to undermine the government. The cry to free the girls was taken up globally. Michelle Obama was pictures with the hashtag, the King of Saudi Arabia condemned Boko Haram as unislamic etc.
Let me make this contribution. General Gowon, who had fought a successful civil war, broke his silence twice regarding Boko Haram. One was in advising that Nigeria should declare a war. The other was about the issue of Nigeria being denied weapons and ammunition. GEJ should have used the former Head of State in some official role. Latest within months of the abduction of the Chibok girls. Events regarding the girls would have taken a different turn.
The advisers of GEJ consistently did him a great disservice. Initially, he did not visit the area clearly because it was unsafe and the Armed Forces could not guarantee his safety. That inaction was compounded by advance notice given of date(s) of intended trips and then cancelling the visit(s). Unbelievably incompetent! Politically naÃ¯ve or maybe sabotage. Goodluck Jonathan was left alone although he appeared surrounded by many people. As he was to appear deserted on occasions during the campaign. The US Presidents â€“ Bush and Obama â€“ have visited their troops in Afghanistan or Iraq but without prior notice. Tony Blair also visited same theatres of war and the world learnt about it when he was with the troops, never before.
Block Votes â€“ Determination that Presidency must return to the North
Voting was predominantly on tribal and religious grounds. It was obvious that the core North wanted and voted GMB. Indeed, there was fervour for his election. At his first rally after the nomination, that emotion was palpable. It was so deep-rooted and wide-spread that many persons in the country feared civil unrest in parts of the North if he had not won. Do note that I do NOT justify this sentiment, but it was real particularly after 2011 when GMB had far less support in other parts of the country and yet many supporters believed he had been cheated out of his victory. The North West voted 7-0 to GMB as expected. 5 out of 6 states in the North East also voted for the General. On the other hand, the people of the South South were determined to hold unto power and all 6 states voted for GEJ. The South East felt a bond with GEJ and voted for him 5-0. People of the North Central comprise mainly â€˜Northern minoritiesâ€™ and members of the Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba tribes. Many are Christian. However, many voted APC. The South West is Yoruba but with a sizeable number of residents from other tribes native to other areas of Nigeria, and was split.
As happens in other democracies therefore, there were safe areas â€“ states or geo-political zones â€“ for the APC and the PDP. Effort is usually concentrated on the swing areas to win them, especially in the USA with statesâ€™ delegates being won irrespective of closeness of vote, and in the UK winning the individual seat no matter the closeness of the numbers. In Nigeria, winning the 25% of the votes in each state necessitated working hard to maximize percentage of votes and to win most votes nationally.
Based upon the number of PVCs produced for each zone and actually collected, GMB had the numbers on his side. The North West zone alone, which was GMBâ€™s main area of strength or solid base and with registered PVCs of 17,620,436 out of which 15,999,398 were collected, matched the numbers from the South South and South East combined, GEJâ€™s solid bases of 17,761,206 (10,059,347 plus 7,665,859) registered and 14,331,356 (7,710,015 plus 6,621,341) collected. The North East, which could be classified as leaning to GMB, typified by the crowd at Maiduguri that was so great he could not even campaign, had registered PVCs of 9,107,861 out of which 6,655,444 were collected. Accordingly, Dr Goodluck Jonathan needed to win the two swing zones of the North Central and the South West. And by as wide a margin as possible. In addition, he needed proportionately a higher percentage of the votes cast in the North West and also the North East than General Buhari would win in the South South and South East.
The North Central which I predicted would fall 4-2 to GEJ actually turned out 2-4 and with votes of 1,558,623 to 2,264,614 or 40% and 60% respectively. GMB won the large South West zone 5-1 and by 2,433,193 votes to 1,819,416 or 57.26% to 42.56%.
Going into the election, both sides needed to win the undecided voters or the swing states. It is now accepted wisdom that a candidate must obtain support from beyond his ethno-religious base. In my view two things decided how those undecided made up their minds. One was about the agenda. The other was changing the support base.
Setting the Agenda, Winning the Agenda and Winning the Arguments
The agenda are the issues that are most important to individual persons who make up the electorate. They vote for the person who they expect is better able to address the issues. It is important to set the agenda, win the agenda (because there would be conflicting agenda) and win the arguments. The agenda of APC was clear â€“ corruption, security, power, job creation and the economy. The PDP countered with religious bigotry, age, and the need to restructure the Nigerian nation so it ran as a true federal structure, the agreed model at independence when the different peoples expressed their self-will. It defended its record in government with claims of achievement â€“ infrastructure development of roads and the railway, power privatisation which would increase generation and improve distribution, increase in agricultural output, improved manufacturing production, number 1 destination for Foreign Direct Investment (DFI) in Africa, largest economy in Africa by GDP etc.
However, the APC clearly won on corruption which was a concern to the majority of the electorate. It won on security particularly as the Chibok girls were not found despite the very recent recovery of territory from the terrorists, the timing of which was regarded with suspicion by the opposition. That Chad, Niger and Cameroun sent in soldiers to confront Boko Haram did not restore the reputation of the Nigerian Army. And the Vice Presidential candidate being a provincial pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God and a former state Attorney General and university professor, was able to blunt the attacks of religious bigotry against GMB. He addressed those issues head on and was also a favoured son of the Pentecostal church. The PDP made some inroads towards the end of the campaign, but not enough to stem the momentum of a desire for change.
There was one thing that any government needs to do in terms of the agenda going into an election. The PDP failed dismally to do that.
This election was as much about the pro vote and the anti-vote. GMBâ€™s pro vote stayed steady or indeed increased. His anti vote reduced, and the greatest credit for that I personally observed to be Osinbajo. GEJ made a slight dent on his anti vote, but could hardly improve on his pro vote. These findings are anecdotal, not through scientific research.
The Jonathan administration was regarded as corrupt. The ministers were accused of unaccountability for billions of US Dollars. The fuel subsidy regime was shown to be a major source of leakage of billions of Naira for the benefit of a few people. Some persons who were found to have abused the system were not jailed or sufficiently punished. The EFCC which under Chief Obasanjo had prosecuted a number of powerful persons and jailed and/or recovered money from them carried out only a few cases that attracted publicity.
General Buhari, on the other hand, was regarded as not corrupt. He did not amass wealth for personal benefit, and does not possess great wealth. Those who regarded corruption as being either the top or close to the top issue that has caused the current unsatisfactory state of the country â€“ economy, infrastructure etc, – passionately preferred GMB and voted for him.
Insurgents kidnapped women, men, boys and girls from three states and many local government areas. They attacked indiscriminately killing people. There were reports that the Nigerian Armed Forces were sometimes notified of impending attacks but did nothing to fight off the attackers. In some cases, they were accused of running away abandoning their weapons. The terrorists became emboldened and captured territories and occupied them.
Suicide bombings took place in several other parts of the country including attacks on Abuja, Kano, Kaduna etc.
The GEJ administration was adjudged to be incapable of solving the problem.
It made a weak case worse by not taking effective political decisions which led to the state of emergency not being renewed for the three states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe when the authority expired. One wondered what alternatives those legislators against gave for tackling the terrorism. To use the quote of Tony Blair with a change of subject, â€˜Tough on terror, tough on the causes of terror.â€™
The Economy â€“ Reduced Government Revenue, Weak Naira, Low Foreign Reserves
Funding from the Joint Allocation dried up because Nigeria sold less oil and at reduced prices compared to what was budgeted. The price of oil collapsed from over $100 per barrel to below $60. Federal government expenditure items were not paid for and several states owed salaries to their workers. The value of Naira fell from a working rate of 175:1 to over 220:1. Costs of various imported items rose. The foreign exchange reserves fell.
Many persons felt worse off in 2015 than in 2011. A key litmus test was thus failed. The PDP being in charge of the economy, had to pay the price. Compounding the perceived poor performance of the GEJ administration, was that the leader did not convince that things would improve sufficiently if he was returned to power.
Events are things that happen, local or international, that affect the effectiveness of the government of the day. The foreign exchange earnings of the country, mainly from the sale of crude oil, fell with a collapse in the price of oil and a reduction in the volume. Revenue available to the federal government was below budget. The government was therefore unable to spend as planned. The value of the Naira fell, from 175:1 to 220:1 for the dollar, a depreciation of over 20%. Costs of imported items have gone up noticeably.
President Jonathan had no influence at all over the price of oil. He might have had slightly more influence over the volume of oil sold. And the Government should have had reasonable influence over the value of the Naira.
GEJ inherited the problem of Boko Haram but it became a conflagration under him, that at one time threatened to consume Maiduguri and by extension, Abuja the Federal Capital Territory! He seemed to condone corruption amongst his ministers and within the oil industry in particular; not responding convincingly to accusations by the then Governor of the CBN and now the Emir of Kano that billions of US Dollars were missing or unaccounted for.
Events can make or mar political fortunes. When asked what was the greatest challenge for a (politician) statesman, British Prime Minister Harold McMillan reportedly responded, â€˜â€™Events, my dear boy, events.â€™â€™ More recently, when the Conservative Party was forced to withdraw the Pound Sterling from the Exchange Rate Mechanism, forerunner to the Euro (and we all know what problems that currency has had), the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, equivalent to our Minister of Finance, Norman Lamont said, â€˜â€™there is â€¦ too much reacting to events, and not enough shaping of events. We give the impression of being in office but not in power.â€™â€™ That could well have been said of GEJ although it was aimed at John Major, another man that got to the peak of power without targeting to do so.
The Game Changer
After General Buhari won nomination as the presidential candidate of the APC, there was an uncertain lull when various persons were being suggested as the vice presidential candidate. The uncertainty, almost dithering, was transformed immediately Prof Yemi Osinbajo was named. He brought a lot to the ticket. In one fell swoop, the second leg of Dr Jonathanâ€™s base â€“ the Christians â€“ was removed. Prof Osinbajo is a provincial pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and is a favoured son of the revered General Overseer. In addition, Prof confronted headlong the stigma that General Buhari was a Moslem fundamentalist and would govern as such. He canvassed the Christians in the North Central, and made several trips across the country to attend rallies and town hall meetings. That main weapon of the Jonathan side was rendered ineffective. GEJ was reported to have acknowledged as much stating that Osinbajo was his problem (inferring he could surmount any other).
Prof Osinbajo also brought to the table an outstanding career in public service. He was an innovative Attorney General of Lagos State winning plaudits for the transformation of the Lagos judiciary. Many of the reforms he introduced were lauded by the international community.
Therefore, not just in the core North, but also in the South West, an expectancy developed about the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket. GMB has a reputation of delegating a lot of responsibility to his deputy and other members of his team. Many people are assured of a competent and incorruptible pair of hands in Osinbajo.
It must be acknowledged that one man ensured that the APC did not self harm. Baba or OBJ, former President Onasanjo made a critical intervention when the warned the APC leaders that the time was not right in Nigeria for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates to come from the same religion. Since he is essentially a national rather than a zonal player, whose intervention changed the agenda, OBJ is being mentioned here. If the APC had presented Muslim-Muslim ticket, the party would have not won a number of states and more pertinently, as many numbers of votes. It is conjecture, but relevant consideration, to speculate whether that would have prevented enough votes from changing hands to have handed power to GEJ.
Local Players â€“ in states
Individuals definitely shaped the results of presidential with national assembly elections and later the governorship and state legislature elections.
Governor Ayo Fayose delivered the Ekiti votes, the only state in the South West that voted GEJ. Governors Amosun in Ogun state and Ajimobi in Oyo state definitely attracted extra votes to the APC and its Presidential candidate, because of each individualâ€™s performance. Jimi Agbaje in Lagos, also attracted votes for Goodluck Jonathan although both failed to win; albeit too uncomfortably close for the APC. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has a great record of performance at both the BPE but more widely recognized as the Minister for the FCT. I understand he has an almost cult like following on social media. He must have attracted votes across the ethno-religious divide in Kaduna state, even for the popular GMB. Senator Bukola Saraki is the â€˜leaderâ€™ in Kwara state, and GMB won it with two times as many votes as GEJ, the only state in the North Central to do so other than Niger. Dr Samuel Ortom, former Minister of State in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment must have swung votes to the APC on the platform of which he contested as governor of Benue and won. Genuinely well connected, he influenced enough voters for GMB to win in a surprise result.
Lagos state, as the biggest contributor to employment and GDP in Nigeria, was fought over fiercely. It was akin to trench warfare. And in that sort of situation, the Ashiwaju led but supported by Governor Fashola APC machinery, including getting President-elect Buhari to campaign, ensured Lagos did not fall at both the presidential and gubernatorial elections.
On the other hand, Governor Gabriel Suswan of Benue lost votes for the PDP by his performance in office. The Iroko, Dr Olusegun Mimiko of the PDP lost out to the APC during the presidential elections. He reversed that result and the PDP won the state legislature handsomely. He alienated members of his old party, Labour, when he left to join the PDP and annoyed those in the PDP because he took over the party and all the largesse. He also partly neglected Ondo as he was trying hard to win the rest of the SW zone for GEJ. The Ondo loss was the greatest shock to me. Governor Yero of Kaduna was regarded as having performed poorly. He lost votes at both the presidential and gubernatorial elections.
Visible Growth of both GEJ and GMB during Campaign
Both President Dr Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari became more convincing as the election campaign wore on. The campaigning had to attack the personalities and performance of either candidate. GEJâ€™s performance in office in the last six years and his perceived weak personality; GMBâ€™s performance in the past and divisive utterances. And Buhariâ€™s strong character and military record. Nevertheless, despite the barrage of propaganda and negative publicity, each became more convincing. Questions were handled with greater assurance. Plans became clearer.
So, whoever won, Nigeria would have been the clear winner. The finishing school that a close election campaign is, would have made either person perform better in government than if he did not have had to go through the challenges.
Foreign Preference for General Buhari
Safe to conclude that Britain, the former colonial power, and the USA, the leader of the Western world, showed a preference for General Buhari. Neither country sold arms to Nigeria despite its war with Boko Haram. Both rushed to condemn the rescheduling of the elections by six weeks when most objective observers would have noted that INEC was not ready for a free and fair participative election. PVCs collection was skewed and the use of card readers and PVCs had not been widely tested.
What effect did the foreign preference for General Buhari have? Not sure if it directly influenced many Nigerian voters.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. Its GDP is growing at a faster rate than that of the second biggest economy, South Africa. The population is also twice as large. It is very likely therefore that the GDP differential would continue to widen. Nigeria with its 170 million people is the worldâ€™s 7th largest population. The prediction is that it would become the 4th largest after China, India and the USA. The leaders must therefore govern reasonably efficiently. And reasonably selflessly. General Buhari is likely to set that pattern. Nigeria, like most of Africa, has in the decade leading up to 2008 and since 2009 grown mainly on the back of Eastern money especially investment in infrastructure, and growing intra-Africa visible and invisible trade. Nigeria must make new friends, and it is in our self-interest so to do; but keep the old. Friends, old and new, need to work with us but never dictate to us.
This is a new dawn in Nigeria. It is truly an exciting time. There are serious challenges, but also plentiful opportunities.
I must end with two quotes:
â€˜â€™ â€œI promised the country free and fair elections. I have kept my word. I have also expanded the space for Nigerians to participate in the democratic process. That is one legacy I will like to see endure… As I have always affirmed, nobodyâ€™s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. The unity, stability and progress of our dear country is more important than anything else.â€
– President Goodluck Jonathan
â€œI pledge myself and our incoming administration to just and principled governance. There shall be no bias against or favouritism for any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion, gender or social status….My love and concern for this nation and what I desire for it extends to all, even those who do not like us or our politics. …I shall work for those who voted for me as well as those who voted against me and even for those who did not vote at all. We live under one name as one nation; we are all Nigerians.â€
– General Muhammadu Buhari
These are truly immortal words. They could have been said by Churchill, Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Deng Xioping, Nelson Mandela or any of the great leaders of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Let them be etched on the heart of every Nigerian, and indeed every African, from henceforth.
So, to the title of my paper, â€˜What won the 2015 Nigerian Presidential elections?â€™
My unambiguous answer must be – God won the elections. Nigeria has peace, a change of government, and a determination on all sides to do better. The incoming federal and state governments have promised better governance. The governed are determined to monitor delivery. Bearing in mind the foreign prognosis and the genuine fear of many Nigerians, the peace that followed a winner and a loser at the Presidential elections could only have come from God.
April 24 2015 (with a few amendments on April 28, 2015)