By Dele Momodu; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fellow Nigerians, permit me to say how flattered I was when the man of God, Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly, described me as one of the pen prophets in Nigeria and included humble me amongst the columnists he reads regularly. I can’t thank him enough for the extra-special lengths he went to make my book launch a huge success. To whom much is given, much is certainly expected. To qualify to be a prophet means most if not all my prophecies must be as accurate as possible. This is the main reason I have decided to project into the future again, and once more tell our President the truth cronies will never tell him and his kitchen cabinet.
It is obvious that the ruling party is now enmeshed in a peculiar mess (apologies to the great young Ibadan politician of old, Adegoke Adelabu of Penkelemesi fame), almost far worse than what happened under the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. What that means is that if elections were held today, the figures wouldn’t add up for Mr President in particular. I will try to explain this simple unpalatable fact, but unacceptable reality nonetheless, in a short moment. What I’m trying to say without any equivocation or doubt or fear of contradiction is that President Muhammadu Buhari should not take it for granted that he would easily coast home to victory like he did in 2015, bearing in mind that his margin of victory was the smallest since the Fourth Republic began in 1999.
In the days of President Jonathan in power, you needed some knowledge of Additional Mathematics combined with Algebra to unravel the political permutations but not anymore. Today, your knowledge need not go beyond elementary Arithmetic. Any discerning mind can see very clearly that the present ruling party APC is already in disarray and being held precariously together by a thin thread of government patronage and fear of almighty EFCC amid the nebulous concept of probity and anti-corruption that the government has been bandying about. God knows that as we inch closer and closer to the next general elections, the President would see giant monsters jumping out of the closets that he felt were very empty and squeaky clean. By then it might be too late to salvage the situation because he is likely to have become a veritable lame duck with very few willing to do is bidding because they think he is on his way out.
It is incredible how man, as mere mortal, often forgets the past so soon. No one needs to travel too far to discover the danger lurking around the corner for the President and his ruling party. But it seems everyman likes to believe whatever lies he is told by those who should, ordinarily, be his guardian angels. I have had the chance of speaking directly to a few of the principal actors and forewarned them about the tragedy to come but I’m not sure the falcon is listening to the falconer. If it is, we are having a hard time and difficult job hearing what is being said!
If you’re on social media, you’ll feel very sorry for our dear beloved country. The war between, and inside, the different political parties is unbelievable. While the leaders meet regularly, the gba-ran-mi-delerus (busybodies) are abusing themselves slavishly, foolishly and without decorum. Everyone they disagree with is a looter, a corrupt man, a wailer and a hater – Lord-have-mercy on poor souls. What the fanatical supporters of this government fail to realise is that it is becoming almost an impossibility for the Federal Government to lock down four out of our six regions that it needs to if it must retain the Presidency. Even at the height of his popularity, Baba couldn’t win elections three consecutive times before the 2015 elections. Not much has changed from the political realities of that period. The ‘Change’ factor of 2015, which saw the amalgamation and consolidation of diverse strange bed-fellows has long since shown its true colours as merely a house of wafer thin pack of cards! It is remarkable that the grand alliance many saw as the pathway to a bright and glorious future has been blown away without even a tempest or typhoon. The sad truth is that there is virtually no region today where APC is not embattled, in some regions, it even appears as if it is in its death throes.
The arguments of many APC die-hards include the fact that APC won the controversial gubernatorial election in Ekiti State. While I congratulate my dear friend, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on his hard won and well-deserved victory, given his qualifications, capabilities and antecedents, APC should not assume it would easily replicate the same feat at the Federal level and at a general election. Any discerning mind would have known that the Federal might would play a critical role in the Ekiti State election. When I predicted the outcome of that election and how the scenario would play out, one young man working for Governor Peter Fayose rained venom and invectives on me like a rabid dog. Today the barking man has not uttered as much as a whimper. Such is the debilitating power of defeat.
Let me now explain why it may not be so easy for President Buhari to play the Ekiti game nationally. It was said that about 30,000 police officers were drafted to maintain law and order in Ekiti State at the just concluded elections. I leave, for another day, the issues surrounding raging questions about how and where the government found the funding, capacity and willingness to deploy such humongous human and material security forces and equipment to a small State like Ekiti State in the wake of the ravaging Boko Haram menace, the rampaging herdsmen and the riotous militants. One would have thought that a nation afflicted with the security nightmare that insurgency, militancy and terrorism presents would not deem fit to deploy such military and police might for electioneering purposes when these terrible scourges are consuming the land. I suppose, the government considers winning elections and staying in power as much more important than the lives and security of the people they swore to protect when they assumed office. Whatever the reason, we saw what must be the largest possible example of the militarisation of a State since independence. That really is the point. Can this be sustained at the Federal level for the upcoming Presidential and gubernatorial elections? I doubt it. I give my reasons below.
The entire work force of the Nigerian Police is not more than about 300,000 personnel. With 30,000 police deployed to one state alone means about 10% of the work force being deployed to that State. Ekiti is one of the smallest States in the Federation, and there are 36 States and a Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Even if only 15,000 policemen were deployed to Ekiti State and there was a desire to do this at the national level for the Presidential elections, only 20 out of 36 States and the FCT would be covered. This would leave a shortfall of 16 States. If we take the Ekiti State example and deploy 30,000 per State, only 10 States would be covered. This would also mean that for the duration, the entire police force would only be dealing with elections. Open season indeed for crooks, criminals and terrorists! To be frank the question for the young student of arithmetic is where then would the government find such number of police per State to assemble, and possibly manipulate, to achieve pre-determined goals?
Depending on who the candidate of the PDP is, I’m certain, APC will find it difficult to have its past grip on the Northern Region. Contrary to the belief that President Buhari enjoys cult-followership in the North, the reality is that this is not the case and that this aphorism cannot stand any casual scrutiny not to mention rigorous examination. The ill-concealed fact is that the President is perceived to have such a cult following because of the outcome of the 2015 Presidential elections when the President won massively in the Northern part of Nigeria. However, the perception falls flat on its face when you examine the previous elections before 2015 critically. It is clear that the President did well in the North in those past elections, but the truth is that PDP did just as well. On a comparative basis in those previous elections, the President did a lot better this time around. What changed? As simplistic as it may sound, it was the ‘CHANGE’ mantra that made the difference. Significantly, people came together to work for President Buhari to emerge. It was not a solitary effort or lone victory! It was the victory of the people. Hitherto strong PDP enclaves suddenly saw President Buhari as the person who would bring them out of the doldrums and improve their lot. They supported him not because of what he stood for, or his person, but because they were weary and tired of the Jonathan government and its many acts of impunity, financial recklessness and brazen kleptocracy by senior government officials who did not have the welfare of the Nigerian masses at their heart. Indeed, the choice before Nigeria in 2015 was stark! It was either Jonathan or Buhari. And Nigerians did not want Jonathan much more than a case of wanting Buhari. We are at the same threshold now.
In truth, the PDP has traditionally been a Northern Party per se and it still commands substantial support in that area of the country. I keep saying that had President Jonathan been able to garner half the number of those who supported him in the North in the 2011 elections what we are saying today would not have been the story! A different reality would have been upon us. President Jonathan won in 2011 not because the North liked him personally, but because the North wanted to vote with PDP as it has been wont to do for many generations! PDP is beginning to learn its lesson and it is starting to make amends. The Party is no longer flaunting its greatly curtailed power. Its officers and Party faithfuls no longer take anything for granted. They know they must work hard to overcome the prejudices and biases of the people against them. They now appreciate that there is no certainty in politics. That realisation, which the APC appears to have had in 2015, is what the APC of 2018 now seems to be lacking. At the rate members are deserting APC in droves, it is only a matter of time before things fall apart completely.
The PDP will certainly field a Northerner to neutralise whatever might be the Buhari effect. This person would be certain to be heavily backed by other aspirants who may not get the party ticket. It is not likely that Buhari can overwhelmingly take over the North Central and North East this time around. Even in the North West, landslide victor is not assured. Every little whittling of the Buhari numbers from the 2015 elections diminishes his overall tally and makes him a sitting duck.
The promises made by APC would also be under critical scrutiny and those not kept would become subjects of public ridicule and odium. The Southern parts have become nearly no go zones, especially in the South South and South East. The South West is the only part where the President and APC may garner something a bit sizable from the Southern parts with the help of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the South West Governors. That is why Ekiti State suddenly became a do-or-die affair. The desperation was palpable, and victory had to be rammed down the throat of the electorate by all means, by hook or crook, by fire, by force! However, the use of force won’t work this time around, not least because the numbers just don’t add up and there is not enough manpower on the ground to replicate the Ekiti State debacle.
With the margin of victory in Ekiti State so slim and wafer thin, despite the massive security apparatus and personnel deployed to enforce a victory, it appears that the game is up! The numbers game may have finally caught up with the President. Something overtly drastic has to be attempted and done to turn things around positively.
Time will surely tell!