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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

One Year After 2015 Presidential Polls: When Jonathan conceded

jonathan-buhari11THE uniqueness of Nigeria’s 2015 presidential
poll in the view of many Nigerians was that it was
the first election in the nation’s history in which
the incumbent political party lost and accepted.
But beyond the outcome of the election was the
effort put in by the election management body
and other stakeholders in the organisation of the
poll and in the management of the outcome.
12 months after the result of the election was
announced, the rarity of the occurrence may
have begun to settle on Nigerians, but whether
the lessons and the process have been ingrained
into the body politic remains a matter of
dispute. This is especially buttressed by the
rancour that trailed many of the elections that
have been organised in the recent past.
INEC's role: The Independent National Electoral
Commission, INEC, led by former unionist, Prof.
Attahiru Jega had in the years leading to the
2015 begun the process of reengineering the
election process through improving the integrity
of the voter register using the card reader and
the Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs.

Machinations of political thugs
Besides, INEC as led by Jega had also introduced
the use of academics as returning officers, a
situation that in some cases helped to cushion
the fears of many voters who had in the past
been used to election officers easily being
swayed by the machinations of political thugs and
their sponsors.
Besides, the efforts of the INEC, a number of
prominent Nigerians led by the erstwhile head
of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar were
beneath the scene also involved in building
peace between the two major presidential
candidates, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of the
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Gen.
Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives
Congress, APC.
At a point before the election, the committee
brought the two men together where they
signed an agreement to allow the will of the
people to prevail. The committee many
Nigerians noted, above all else helped to ensure
that the extremities that hitherto attended
reactions to presidential elections did not ensue
after the March 28, presidential election.
However, the path and preparations taken by the
two major political parties ahead of the election
helped to get them the results that they
obtained.
PDP: The PDP’s inaugural presidential campaign
in Lagos was literally full of sound, furry which
shadowed the campaigns in the rest of the
country.
Dr. Jonathan bristled with enthusiasm as he
condemned without naming his rival as one who
would lock up many Nigerians and restrict their
democratic liberty. It was an unusual assault by
the then president who was actually fighting the
battle of his life.
There were instances of other party chieftains
bashing Buhari, former President Olusegun
Obasanjo and anyone considered opposed to its
presidential candidate.
Among the more prominent figures involved
were Jonathan’s campaign spokesperson, Chief
Femi Fani-Kayode, Ekiti State Governor, Ayo
Fayose and the First Lady, Mrs. Patience
Jonathan. Mrs. Jonathan went to the extent of
profiling parts of the country.
Public disposition
At some points, the unrestrained vulgar affronts
nearly passed for campaign policies to the extent
that it negatively impacted on the public
disposition towards the party and its candidate.
Until the eve of the poll, the general impression
was that the PDP’s presidential campaign was
obviously awful in manners that defied logic and
common sense.
In all, the party’s pre-election showing was in
total violation of the critical ingredients of the
Abuja Accord which committed the parties to
issue-based campaigns at national states and
local government levels.
Surprisingly, the veracity of the foregoing was
not even lost on the party as it recently owned
up to have been responsible for the
unimpressive campaign that led to its defeat.
Putting it more succinctly, its National Publicity
Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh said: “The decision
of the Presidential Campaign Organization to
adopt and execute a hate campaign strategy
against the then presidential candidate of the
APC, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari led to the failure
of PDP.
"We (NWC members) did not lead the party to
failure. We were not involved in the campaigns
and our advice was ignored. If we had handled
the campaign, Mr. President would have won the
election. We cannot be held responsible when
our advice was ignored.”
APC: Latching on public impulse regarding the
state of the nation, the APC, which came out of a
merger of three major political parties
marketed itself with the message of change.
Presidential campaign
Indeed, change which simply translates to
paradigm shift was considered an apt contrast to
the PDP’s call for continuity.
Prior to the commencement of the presidential
campaign in Port-Harcourt, the party had
unveiled its manifesto in Abuja where it made
progressively inclined pledges.
Prominent among the promises were job
creation , fight against corruption, improved
social and physical infrastructure, improved
insecurity, social welfare, creation of state police
and transparent governance, accelerated power
supply, food security, affordable health care,
accelerated economic growth, Integrated
transport network and devolution of power
among others.
The dexterity with which the party fixated its
campaign on change was such that many
expected it to take up the challenge of
participating in a presidential debate. But that
was not to be as the APC deliberately dashed the
expectation.
The feasibility of the now contentious social
welfare package for vulnerable Nigerians was an
area where analysts actually wanted clarity
considering the falling oil prices.
In fact, the possibility question gained more
visibility with Prof Charles Soludo’s article where
he doubted how feasible the programmes.
"The APC manifesto contains some good
principles and wish-lists, but as a blue print for
Nigeria’s security and prosperity, it is largely
hollow. The numbers do not add up. As a first
point, Buhari and his team must realize that they
do not yet have a coherent, credible agenda that
is consistent with the fundamentals of the
economy currently," he stated.
Practically, all through the campaigns, the
electorate were in the dark regarding how funds
for the realisation of the promises would be
met.
Things that could have passed for the party’s
failings on the campaign trail as represented by
the foregoing, never mattered since the PDP
seemed obviously averse to presenting an
explicit agenda for governance.
Bearing in mind the axiom that issue based
campaign presents the perfect antithesis of hate
speech, the APC stuck to its style while
promoting the change agenda.
Instead of mudslinging and bigotry, the
conversation was around various questions of
public policy.
Thus, it was not shocking that the electorate
succumbed to issue based voting, resulting in
phenomenal electoral outcome.

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