Nigeria’s 2015 elections: A hope for change

This is piece was written in January 2013 when Nigeria and Nigerians were in an apprehensive mood due to their forthcoming general elections.

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Discussing Nigeria’s next general election is like opening the proverbial Pandora’s box because it raises many questions with equally many answers. Answers left to the spectators to either take or leave but the bottom line is everyone holds onto the answers that gives them hope- the rulers, the ruled and the over-ruled.
Hope in Nigeria seems to have been hijacked by the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) because as the masses grow more disillusioned with the way it is running the affairs of the nation, its politicians continue to plan, scheme and hope to win every next election.
For most Nigerians the 2015 elections is their last hope for change. How the different scenarios play out is very important to each and every one of us.

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The youth formed army of the social media will certainly play a major role in determining who will be the nation’s president in 2015. This is an army that has aligned with the opposition for now, an army that is working across religious and tribal divides, an army that has found its heroes and role models in vocal opposition political figures they connect with via the social media. Malam Nasir El-Rufai and Dele Momodu pull the biggest crowd of followers on this front. Their youth appeal comes from their ability to inspire the youth to believe that positive change is possible in Nigeria, this they have proven through their measurable accomplishments both in public and private spheres.
The tenure of Malam Nasir El-Rufai as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) raised the bar for public office holders in Nigeria. His fearless approach to the transformation of the FCT into a world class city proved to Nigerians that with visionary and committed leaders tangible progress was possible. He worked assiduously to restore the master plan of Nigeria’s capital city, he brought back serenity, sanity and, law and order to the streets of Abuja. His accomplishments in the FCT remain unmatched. For these reasons most Nigerians continue to hold El-Rufai in high esteem and his opinions on current issues are highly regarded.
Dele Momodu is a Nigerian Publisher, Political activist and Opposition political figure who ran for the presidency in 2011. His weekly column The Pendulum which dissects and analyses topical issues in Nigeria’s political environment continues to garner rave reviews from Nigerians especially his followers on Twitter. His views on how the government can move the country forward are very popular with Nigerian youths across board. The Pendulum remains one of the most re-tweeted, re-blogged and recommended columns in Nigeria today.
Another possible candidate from the opposition for the presidency in 2015 is Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos state, largely considered to be the best performing governor in Nigeria today. His reforms in education, taxation and infrastructure brought rapid development to Lagos state. His vision of transforming Lagos into a megacity is gradually coming to reality in a nation where dreams hardly materialize. It can be said that Fashola is the only Nigerian governor that has been able to deliver on most of his campaign promises. Commendations continue to pour out on him from all corners of Nigeria, any one who visits Lagos can see clearly that Lagos state is changing for good and the remarkable thing about it all is that Fashola is not done yet.
If the opposition political parties in Nigeria cooperate with one another to see through their proposed mergers and acquisitions, it will provide a platform for these young and able leaders to form a formidable team that will be able to wrestle power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
Some may wonder why I have not mentioned the enigmatic General Muhammadu Buhari as a suitable Presidential candidate from the opposition or his southern counterpart Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, no doubt General Buhari and Chief Tinubu have the required qualities and qualifications to turn things around in Nigeria having built a strong opposition but I do not subscribe to having candidates of their age running Nigeria until 2019 or beyond. The best these leaders can do to save Nigeria is to retain their positions at the top as party leaders and continue to coordinate the opposition while their protégés run for office.
The ruling PDP with all the hope in its kitty is sure to take a shot at the presidency in 2015 and will definitely hope to win. As in most political climes the incumbent always has a better chance of wooing the electorate if it lends itself credibility via exceptional performance. For the PDP this chance rests on the performance of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. If the President is able to turn around his administrations fortunes by decisively tackling some of the most pressing issues facing the nation between now and the next elections then PDP can look forward to the 2015 polls with genuine hope. The president’s critics and sympathizers continue to call on him to ensure that his administration’s transformation agenda especially in the power sector comes through before 2015. The power sector reform seems to be the last card on the table for Mr. President, it’s a project that if the president gets right will justify to Nigerians why he may be eligible for a second chance. President Jonathan called his credibility to question due to his dismal performance so far, his seeming inability to tackle insecurity and corruption, and his overall lackadaisical attitude to governance is most worrisome to Nigerians but as I said earlier all hope is not lost if regular power supply is achieved, otherwise PDP will have to find a convincing substitute or ultimately get booted out.
If the PDP decides to drop President Jonathan in 2015, they will surely find a better substitute from among their few performing state governors. This small class of Governors includes Goodswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Dr Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Sule Lamido of Jigawa State. These governors unlike the president have not relented in their commitment to the development of their states despite the many challenges they face most especially the menace of terrorism- Boko Haram in the north and Niger Delta militants in the south-south. The four states they govern have so far witnessed generous transformation in the areas of infrastructure, education, health care and youth empowerment.
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition has left no one in doubt, the only question is if he will be contesting under his present party the PDP or a different one as he did in 2007. There’s been speculation that Atiku Abubakar and some prominent northern politicians are working on reviving the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), the foundation structure of the PDP where he may likely be the presidential candidate. Atiku Abubakar has had an interesting political career, most memorable of which is the battle of wits between him and his then principal Chief Olusegun Obasanjo while he Atiku was vice president. Observers commend his fearless opposition to Obasanjo’s bid for a third term in office, a gallant stand for any politician in his shoes. In 2007 he won his case against Nigeria’s electoral body few days to the general elections when his name was left out of the presidential ballot papers, a move widely believed to be orchestrated by Obasanjo. Atiku Abubakar is credited with showing Nigerians that there is a limit to the power of incumbency when in their second tenure president Obasanjo tried to remove him from his position as vice president but Atiku was able to stay on till the end of that tenure. Asides politics, Atiku Abubakar is known to be a successful business man and philanthropist with an impeccable record of service in the Nigerian Customs.

This subject cannot be closed without a case for Igbo presidency to be fair to the Igbos. The Igbos have for long clamoured for an Igbo President, they have accused the Nigerian political elite of marginalization. They say there’s a conspiracy going on somewhere against having an Igbo man as the president but the question is “who is the consensus candidate of the Igbos?” Truth is the Igbo political class is yet to form a united front that will field a single candidate that has the backing of the majority. The Igbos have always been a politically fragmented group but the creation of the Ohanaze Ndigo socio-cultural group was meant to unite all Igbo communities within and outside Nigeria, this clearly has not been achieved. It is a shame that the Igbo ethnic group having been blessed with a good number of intellectuals and technocrats is yet to bring forth a single individual to lead Nigeria since Nnamdi Azikiwe. If and when the Igbos decide to put their house in order for the 2015 elections they have the likes of Owele Rochas Okorocha and Professor Charles Soludo Continue reading “Nigeria’s 2015 elections: A hope for change”