Our Nation_Our Politics.
Why PMB Should Be Easily Re-Elected In 2019, Part 4.
(Warning: Long post)
Reason Number 3: BOLA AHMED TINUBU.
This is the penultimate installment of my series on why it is probable that President Muhammadu Buhari will be re-elected, when in truth, it should not be easy at all. So far, I have discussed two reasons – PMB’s political intelligence and PDP’s long defeat hangover. This piece in PMB’s re-election jig-saw puzzle is Bola Ahmed Tinubu (let us call him Jagaban).
Soon after his “I belong to everybody, I belong to no one” phrase in his inaugural address, new friends began to coalesce around the new president; and the process of freezing out one major architect of the political calculation that brought PMB back from the political doldrums began. Many would be justified to ask, what about the defectors from the PDP – Bukola Saraki, Waziri Tambuwal, Rotimi Amaechi et all? Did they not contribute? Sure, they contributed to the success of the APC, but go back and look at the political map of the 2015 elections, and at PMB’s margin of victory over President Goodluck. PMB scored 15, 424,921 votes to President Goodluck’s 12, 853,162, a difference of just 2.57 million. You will realize how narrow a victory it was indeed. Many will justify that it was because President Goodluck was the incumbent. May be, maybe not. I digress, sorry.
Interestingly, and contrary to popular belief, that difference of less than 2.6 million votes did not come from Lagos, or the Southwest! The difference came from the Northwestern states of Kano (where PMB got 1,903,999 votes to President Goodluck’s 215,779), and Kaduna (where PMB scored 1,127,760 to President Goodluck’s 484,085). Remember that Rivers States (despite Amaechi being sitting governor) had given President Goodluck 1, 487,075, while PMB scored a paltry 69,238 votes! In reality, PMB scored 2, 433,193 votes in all the six Southwest States of Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun and Ekiti, while President Goodluck had 1, 821,416 votes, the difference being just 611,777 votes.
My point being that it was NOT the votes PMB scored in the Southwest that gave him the presidency. So, why was his success attributed to Jagaban more than the others mentioned above, and many more not mentioned? Simple. Because a coalition was made possible in the first place, when Jagaban led the APC (suspicious, screaming and protesting) into it; and because at the APC presidential primaries, Jagaban swung the ticket PMB’s way, over deep-pocketed and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and well organized and sitting Kano State, Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso!
But more importantly because Jagaban can be a spoiler, if he chooses to! Many do not recall, but during the 2011 presidential election, something strange happened. Jagaban was of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which had a presidential candidate in Nuhu Ribadu, former EFCC boss. Remember? But President Goodluck of the rival PDP swept the Southwest, when the PDP could not be accused of being popular in that region! The APC won the presidential election in only one of the 6 Southwest states and it was not Lagos! Ribadu won only in Osun state. In fact, in Lagos, President Goodluck had 1, 281,688 votes, while Nuhu Ribadu came a distant second with just 427,203 votes! However, during the gubernatorial elections that followed JUST A WEEK later, the APC won comfortably in the Southwest!!!
Many still theorize as to what happened just before that presidential vote took place! I know, but will not tell .. at least not here! So, if Jagaban had not been part of that coalition that birthed the APC, President Goodluck would have won Re-election – pure and simple. And before you say no, PMB himself acknowledged so much. Surely we cannot know better that the ultimate beneficiary himself, can we now?
So, naturally, Jagaban felt entitled, based on previous agreements and undertakings. But, as with power, the president (some say those around him) pushed back after a while. Also a perfectly natural political instinct. All these would have been understandable and manageable if 5th columnists (with an eye on weakening PMB for 2019) had not sought to take advantage of the situation to “cut Tinubu to size”. And being the political animal he is, PMB hedged his bet, watching to see how far this play would go. Well it didn’t play out as the president thought it would!
Tinubu’s response? He went AWOL on the party! He stopped attending meetings, his body language suggested he was preparing to go solo again with his craft! He even dropped the honorific “leader of the party” that he so loved! Then Atiku’s defection from APC happened, and the president’s handlers read the danger in that immediately. What danger, you might ask? Perception is that on any good election season, Atiku will have abundant resources to deploy, and many who have been ‘hungry since PMB happened’ will naturally be drawn to him. And many of these people could come from the Southwest if there is no bulwark capable to stem that tide. So, in comes Jagaban’s ‘rehabilitation’.
Yes, Atiku has the resources, but Tinubu can not only match him in that area, but also has this uncanny street wisdom that works in the Nigerian political terrain. That Jagaban has decided to play along is the President’s saving grace, and I believe this was another of Atiku Abubakar’s miscalculation for 2019. (The story of Atiku’s several miscalculations for 2019 will be the subject of another series, soon) The game plan was to frustrate the relationship between PMB and Jagaban, then go for their joint jugulars! I am sure you will have read recently Candidate Atiku regretting not ‘taking Lagos’ from Jagaban in 2003? Okay!
I do not know what concessions PMB afforded as consideration for Jagaban’s support for his re-election project (and please do not even think there was nothing like that, abeg 🤣), but whatever price he has paid, or signed on to pay, it will turn out to be the best political price the President will have to pay in his political career. Why?
Now, who ever gets the PDP ticket (with due respect to the other parties, PDP is still the only viable opposition for the simple reason that it has sitting Governors with deep pockets and organisation. #Ifyouknowyouknow) will automatically have a block of votes that President Goodluck had in 2015 from big voter states like Rivers and Kano (yes, even Kano still). Add Cross River, Bayelsa, Benue (read herdsmen), Kwara (forget that thing – Saraki’s money will speak), Enugu, Abia, Imo (forget Iberibeism!), Gombe (Dankwabo effect), Adamawa (If Atiku is PDP’s nominee), Taraba, Ebonyi as sure bets for PDP. Whoever is PDP’s nominee will get at least 25% of valid votes cast in Sokoto, Kaduna, Bauchi, Niger, Kogi, Plateau, Nasarawa, Anambra (more than 35% if APGA does not support PMB as is being negotiated), Akwa Ibom, Edo and Delta (If James Ibori leaves PDP as I suspect he is angling for. If not, Delta moves into the sure bet corner above).
PMB is expected to be dominant in the North. Even in 2011 when he was not an incumbent almost all his 12 million plus votes came from the North. Sure bets for him as at today for more than 50% should be Katsina, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Kano, Nasarawa, FCT, Sokoto (yes, in ‘Tambuwalland’ even if Tambuwal is PDP’s nominee), Niger, Kogi, Zamfara, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Anambra (if APGA adopts him). He surely will get at least 25% of votes in all the other northern states; 25% threshold is also possible in Cross Rivers, Imo, Abia, and Anambra (if APGA ditches him).
With this picture as painted, the ‘beautiful bride’ will still be the Southwest. Cue: Jagaban and to a lesser extent the Vice President (if he remains on the ticket as I fully expect him to be). Now, many will not admit, but the Southwest is a dicey ball game. For the simple reason that many in the Southwest loathe Jagaban’s grip and want to carve out a piece of the pie for themselves. A PDP nominee like Atiku will know how to exploit the fault lines of the Southwest (he is after an in-law 😝. Expect to see Madam Titi Atiku Abubakar on the trail if her husband becomes the PDP nominee) but the game changer, the force who will decide how majority of the 6 Southwest states will vote remains Jagaban. There are other pretenders, but he remains the vote counting don.
And this will be easier during this election cycle because the backing of the establishment is guaranteed. (Read: 2018 Ekiti gubernatorial election!)
So, my reading is that Jagabann’s support for PMB should tilt the election in favour of the general from Daura; even though I expect the contest to be close, very close indeed.
Last installment will be titled: The Economy, What Economy. Strangely, I see it as a factor that should give PMB a second term, even it the indices do not portend so!
©Adewale Adeniji. 13th September 2018.