Ekerete Udoh: The G-5 governors’ merger with the APC – Matters arising

by Ekerete Udoh

g7-defection-3-700x466Let’s look at Rivers state- will the people of Rivers, jettison their next door son, and embrace a northern candidate simply because their Governor-Amaechi defected to the opposition party? Even though one is not cheer-leading for identity politics, I declare here that the people of Rivers will not abandon Jonathan in 2015, if he chose to run, so what electoral value will Amaechi add to the APC?

Tuesday, November 26, the worst kept secret in Nigerian politics was finally revealed: the long expected defection of the group of dissatisfied governors originally elected on the platform of PDP, to the opposition party-the All Nigerian People’s Congress (APC.)

For months, their issues and concerns with the ruling party, PDP- their erstwhile party had dominated the media and the political space- from their staged walk-out at the August 2013 PDP Convention at the Eagle’s Square  , to the formation of the now defunct New Peoples Democratic Party, to several rapprochement meetings with the president and other stakeholders  aimed at finding  some resolution to what it was that ailed and choked them- all such efforts ended in stalemate culminating in their defection November, 26 to the APC.

Several analysts and pundits have come out with their prognostications since the defection was made public. Some have called it ‘political earthquake’ while others have likened it to a ‘new realignment’ that is bound to significantly alter the political dynamics in the country. Their conclusions have all pointed to what they believe will be a difficult road to travel by the ruling party and  President Jonathan were he to offer himself again for reelection in 2015.

But the questions I wish to ask and throw open for further inquiries are: will the defection of the aggrieved governors to the opposition capable of altering the political dynamics in the country? Is the ruling party PDP truly in electoral trouble or are we making too much out of the merger? What electoral value do the aggrieved governors bring to their new party? What happens to those who had toiled in the vineyard of the opposition party all these years, and had positioned themselves to reap whatever electoral fortunes that may come their way, now that the aggrieved governors have joined their ranks, and as state executives, may not be willing to play second fiddle to these stakeholders?  Will they hand over the structure they have long nurtured, watered and made ferment for electoral success to individuals who until this week were their mortal political enemies? Who would the APC present as its presidential and vice presidential candidates? If the rumor of the likely candidacy of Kano state Governor-Rabiu Kwankwaso and his Lagos state counterpart-Babatunde Fashola becomes manifest, will Nigerians in 2013, given the heightened sense of ethnic and religious passions in the country be willing to vote for an all Muslim ticket, even though we did such in less heightened times in 1993, with the late abiola and Kingibe? Can President Jonathan given the seeming hurdles thrown his path with the new realities, win in 2015 were he to put himself forward? These are some of the issues that will engage the punditry class as the 2015 presidential election game plan begins to take shape.

There is no doubt that the defection of the five governors from PDP to APC may on paper, appear to have altered the political dynamics in the country. Any time a group of elected leaders cross-carpet, there is always a seismic shift however tenuous such may be.  The optics the photo ops generates and the public relations mileage the news cycle on the story engenders may create such a buzz as to make things appear as if there is a real change, but the hard question remains: do the governors truly bring electoral value to their new party, such that PDP will be totally obliterated in those states? Will the PDP still manage in spite of the defection to score at least 25 percent of the votes in the affected states? Will the APC presidential ticket win in a state like Rivers?  Taken together, does the number add up to negatively affect the electoral fortunes of the PDP? Now let’s look at some of these angles: The states where the majority of the five governors that defected to APC in 2011, hold sway did not vote for Jonathan even though PDP managed to score the mandatory 25 percent of the votes in those areas. So the electoral fortunes of APC in those states, Niger, Sokoto, and Kano in my opinion may not be enhanced. It’s like a Republican governor in a red state like Kansas or Oklahoma defecting to the Democratic Party. Such defection will ring hollow politically because even if the Republican Party were to dress up a goat and present such as a candidate for election, the people of Kansas will rather vote for that goat, rather than gamble with an Ivy League educated Democrat, because the Democrat will not be seen to share the values of the Kansas people. So, with or without the defected governors, the APC is expected to win those states regardless, because President Jonathan is seen as a polarizing figure in those states.

Let’s look at Rivers state- will the people of Rivers, jettison their next door son, and embrace a northern candidate simply because their Governor-Amaechi defected to the opposition party? Even though one is not cheer-leading for identity politics, I declare here that the people of Rivers will not abandon Jonathan in 2015, if he chose to run, so what electoral value will Amaechi add to the APC? Kwara state may be a little dicey given the near stranglehold hold of the Saraki political dynasty in the state, but even at that, the PDP may still garner the required 25 percent of the popular votes.

Now let’s look at the South West, as I said on this page two weeks ago, the 2011 presidential elections revealed a new strain in our political culture: the capacity of the geopolitical zones to vote local issues at local elections and to vote their conscience at the national level. I make bold to predict that though APC will do very well in the zone, given the stranglehold that ex-Governor Bolas Tinubu wields, PDP will give the APC a run for its money. The rumored ticket of the beloved Logos state governor Babatunde Fashola and its Kano Counterparty Rabiu Kwankwaso may come across as an intriguing proposition, but the people of Lagos state will vote an APC candidate for governor, but will sneer at a Muslim- Muslim ticket and vote to disappoint their beloved Governor Fashola at the presidential level. APC will lose in Ondo, and will have an uphill task wining in Oyo. APC may win in Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, but will have a huge challenge in Lagos and Oyo. The South East is certain to vote en-mass for Jonathan as with the South-South. The Middle Belt and the northern states of Kaduna, Katsina, Taraba, Bauchi, Nassarawa, will vote for Jonathan thus leaving the APC to fight for the rest of the northern states.

Another problem the newly merged governors will face in their respective states will be a political turf war. The APC stakeholders who had worked hard all along to create political structures upon which they had hope to utilize to advance their political fortunes will now have to hand over such to the newly arrived members who may not be willing to cede their preeminent position to those who had nurtured the party. The resultant rancor may lead to open fights, blackmail, and subterfuge and thus have a house that is divided against itself, which the PDP may exploit to weaken the APC.

But if PDP thinks it will coast to victory easily without coming out with a convincing blue print of development and concrete platform that they hope to utilize to address the numerous challenges that this country is facing, then they may be in for a rude awakening. It is true that millions of Nigerians are beginning to be tired of the dreams they have been sold over the years, and would like to see changes in their circumstance. Nigerians are groaning under darkness, of unemployment, of inadequate health care delivery system, of crony capitalism and unbridled corruption, of a leadership that has lost the abiding sense of the social contract, they desire a government that will galvanize the nation and move it along sustained path of development. Even though there are bright stars within the ruling party, the general verdict has not been too encouraging, so if President Jonathan were to run, he would be faced with a reinvigorated opposition that is determined to dislodge him from Aso Rock with every tool at its disposal. The president would have to convince Nigerians why they should continue with him and not with APC, even though the odds of the APC candidate winning the 2015 presidential elections appear long shot, given the analysis I have provided above.



Read this article in the Thisday Newspapers


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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