Thursday, 12 September 2013
2015: The Arithmetic of Bad Luck
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
The ongoing crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is deepening by the day. I was among the sceptics that dismissed the crisis as one of those that the ruling party would weather. However, there are many indications that this one is proving to be different.
We have seen the disenchanted founding fathers of the PDP leave the party or politics entirely, one after another. Few, like Audu Obgbe, its former chairman, joined other parties and remained there. However, many, like Atiku, Rimi, Na’abba, etc, returned to the witch-mother, quickly or eventually. The overall picture that we have of such decampments is that for reasons of power and wealth, PDP members can hardly survive outside the party as long as it continues to occupy the presidency.
In previous conflicts, it was easy for the party and the president to use the material resources at their disposal and the power invested in his position to buy disgruntled elements back or force them to return. More important than the two is the fact that since they are hardly popular, PDP politicians cannot stand on their own outside the party and survive in the harsh weather of opposition politics. This was highlighted by Senior Special Assistant (on Media) to the President said just a month ago when he said that the rebelling governors must eventually return to PDP because they cannot afford to abandon the winning party. Subsequent developments show that he may be wrong.
What makes this crisis different is a combination of many things. One, the new PDP faction is engineered by a good number of governors from states that cannot be ignored by the President in his election arithmetic. To lose seven will be substantial. They are outgoing, not in need of the party to give them a second chance, and from states that have substantial amount of votes. There are many first tenure governors belonging to their camp, claimed the rebelling governors, but who are advised to keep their heads low in view of the complications they may face now.
Never in the history of the PDP was it faced with a gang of seven governors. Atiku might have had many governors behind him but since he was central in the revolt against Obasanjo, persuading him and threatening the governors with EFCC was enough to close that chapter. And when he left the PDP and joined hands with the AD to form AC, he did not go with any governor behind him.
The situation outside the PDP has also contributed immensely. The formation of the APC has provided the rebelling governors with an alternative to join or align with in order to give the obstinate President a good run for his money. PDP no longer enjoys the monopoly of winning an election. It is not the winning party, as Okupe would like us to believe. Abandoning it is no longer a class suicide. Okupe himself has realised this and is tuning down his rhetoric of dismissing the tamarrud governors.
Also, the crises have hit the President when he is weakest especially with his breakup with the architect of his presidency, the former dictator president, Obasanjo. Essentially, the President has miscalculated that he could dispense with Obasanjo and get away with it, seeing, among other setbacks that the latter suffered recently, that he could not even get his daughter win a senatorial seat, that he could not install a speaker or Chairman of PDP Board of Trustees and, after all, he no longer enjoys an incumbent control over state resources as he used to do when he plotted the ascendency of the present President. Jonathan is misled by Mr. Fix and his position-happy assistants, forgetting that Mr. Fix too could not even fix his Edo constituency which he lost to ACN.
More than the Obasanjo factor, Jonathan is not assisted by his lack of popularity among Nigerians, arising mainly from his widely believed incompetence, which he did everything to prove right, willingly. If he had worked hard to earn the trust and support of Nigerians through good governance, he would have been in a position to pitch the masses against the tamarrud governors. Instead, his tenure has proved to be a disaster and as corrupt as any Third World leader could be.
Then the conflict between the President and the rebelling governors is of the insoluble genre: they are asking him to “forget” standing for another election in 2015 based on a promise he made in the run up to 2011. Here, carried by his power of incumbency, the President thought he could, as Obasanjo did, break the promise without attracting any harm. It is proving difficult. This time, the governors are not letting it go without a fierce fight. But few presidents can willingly yield to threats even in the face of American might or mass protest. The Presidency, especially to people like Jonathan, is a position of do or die.
On the other hand, the New PDP governors are equally stubborn, if not more than the President. Moreover, the conflict has been allowed to ossify so much so that it is impossible for them to back out. On their side are people like Atiku who are already warning them of the dangers of contemplation: “Do not make the mistake of contemplation, which I made in 2003. Once you do so, rest assured that the tiger of Jonathan will return to devour you mercilessly. Remain on cause.” Add to this advice the characteristic vengeance of Obasanjo that is adding oxygen to the fire in the background. With these voices and those fears, the governors could only become more dogged by the day.
We can go on and on in our comparison of past and present conflicts in the ruling PDP. Let us break that now and focus on the implication of the President’s position. Effectively, the crisis shuts the gates of 2015 before the President. The scenarios are obvious and they all point to a President in his decline and fall: Goodluck is faced with bad luck in all directions. Let us look the arithmetic.
Starting from the APC governors, the President should not expect a support from their eleven states. For ethnic reasons, one may allow him the majority votes of Edo state. That takes away the support of eleven governors and the majority votes of ten states.
Then Jonathan is certain to lose the majority votes in six of the seven New PDP governors – that is granting him Rivers State who may decide to support him for ethnic reasons. This brings the number of states that the President may lose their majority votes to sixteen.
Then come the five states of Bauchi, Gombe, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi and Kaduna in which the President will also lose their majority votes though the governors are yet to abandon him. He lost them in 2011, some woefully. This brings the number of states against the President to a staggering figure of twenty-one.
Taraba state is uncertain, the votes being likely to be shared equally between the APC candidate and the President. That leaves the President with the majority of the votes of only Benue and Plateau States in the North for obvious reasons, plus, of course, the majority votes in the southeast, South-South and, possibly, non-APC states of Ondo and neighbouring Ekiti in the southwest. Even here, the states and zones are not big enough on the voters register to make any significant impact, with some having as low as 472,00 votes (Bayelsa) when compared to Lagos (6million) and Kano (5million) votes, both of which are not supporting the President.
I will come to another possibility where the opposition can win the overwhelming majority votes in all states of southwest without exception. But before then, let us see what the above arithmetic means in terms of voter-opportunity for the President – a complete bad luck: 22.9million against 45.7million or one-third against two thirds!
I have presented below the total number of voters in each state belonging to the President and the opposition APC. (I am afraid that the formats of my blog and Facebook page may not keep the table intact.)
APC Candidate States
Depending on who the APC fields as its presidential candidate, the President may not even get the votes of Ekiti and Ondo states. That makes his chances bleaker: 20.6million against 48million votes.
This picture is a complete bad luck for the President in two ways. If the opposition is able to join hands with the New PDP, pick a winning candidate, mobilise its voters and fight fiercely to protect the votes, then it is certain to defeat the President at the polls in 2015, hands down. There is simply no way the President can bridge the gap between 14 states that he would have and the 22, plus the FCT, against him. I cannot see how he can leap from a majority of N22million votes to position himself above the majority of 48 million.
What may make the depiction even darker is the possibility that once the ship of the President starts sinking, the remaining governors may abandon it and he may not be sure of anything anymore. At that point, I have no doubt that the party will be wise enough to prevail on him to step down and stay as a lame duck for the rest of his tenure, defeated, deflated and disgraced by bad luck.
That is the path he has chosen and he has himself to blame for it. The nation, including this writer, rallied around him when he was fighting to be recognized as Acting President. After becoming the President, he blew the opportunity of becoming a statesman and, instead chose to become a gangster that is bent on installing his loyalists and members of his ethnic group in every position of influence. He swallowed the poison of greed alone. He will die alone.
The days ahead will definitely be interesting to watch. Will the President be able to weather the storm and turn the table against his opponents in the PDP to enable him clinch the ticket and face the APC and its allies in the next election? Will the opposition itself forget its regional differences and personal ambitions and oblige itself the indisputable winning candidate that will enable it give a devastating blow to the President in 2015? Will the PDP see the writing on the wall and ask the President to honourably step down from his 2015 ambition such that it can at least have the energy to stand up to the opposition and possibly defeat it at the polls? What are the possible cards that each side will use as we approach 2015?
Bamanga, the chairman of the old PDP faction, for example, is already threatening the use state institutions to sanction legislators who joined the New PDP. This is stupid. The PDP has set the precedence already that once a party is factionalized, its elected members can decamp to other parties. That judgement is returning to harm it severely. The law enforcement agents, the judiciary and INEC will also be calculating in their response to Bamanga’s threat: they have their self-interests to protect in a post Jonathan Nigeria. Once they calibrate that the position of the president is unpromising, they will be unwilling to harass anyone on his instigation.
Our assessment above is limited to the sight that today can afford us. Regardless of the how wide that band is, tomorrow could give us a different possibility altogether that may favour the President or it could further collaborate against him and corroborate the testimony of its immediate predecessor, thus relieving us of the calamity of having a president that is destructive, corrupt and incompetent.