Celebrating the 2015 elections | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Celebrating the 2015 elections

Posted: Apr 17, 2015 at 12:57 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Williams Igenegbai – Snr. Correspondent, Lagos


One great piece of news this year is that after the elections, the heavens did not fall as it did in 2011. This is despite so much fear and anxiety that it could go the way of 2011. The fear of crises and eventual disintegration that Nigerians had before the Presidential elections did not come to pass. In a rare gesture – by African standards – the incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, was magnanimous in defeat and the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, was humble in victory.

Buhari and Osibanjo

Buhari and Osibanjo

The events that preceded the elections, the hate speeches and advertorials and the drums of war that were beaten all over, made people think that the exercise was going to be bloody if the outcome did not go the it was expected. The general belief that in Nigeria, the incumbent cannot be defeated in an election has been found to be unfounded.

Last weekend’s governorship and House of Assembly elections against all expectations in some quarters also went peacefully with only a few crisis areas. The governorship poll as was predicted by some political observers followed the same trend as the presidential election.

The parties, in the governorship election, maintained their dominance in the states and the zones that they held in the presidential election. For example, the All Progressives Congress (APC) dominated the Northern and Western zones of the country as was the pattern in the Presidential poll while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held sway in the Eastern and South-South zones where it had dominance in the Presidential National Assembly elections.

In the South South, the states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Delta, with the exception Edo, have been in the hands of the PDP. In this zone, the results that have been released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been in favour of the PDP.

In Delta State, the PDP governorship candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, won the election with the Labour Party candidate, Great Ovedje Ogboru, against the expectation of political watchers, coming second and Ogheneterga Omerhor of the APC, taking a distant third.

In Edo State, the PDP made a brilliant performance, clinching two out the three senatorial and five of the nine House of Representatives seats in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, which some political observers, however, saw as a result of some influence from Abuja. For example, the state Governor, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, was seen on television complaining about the activities of one army general during the election in the state. However, the governorship election appears to have confirmed that allegation, as the ruling party in the state, in the state House of Assembly poll, garnered 21 of the 25 seats in the House.

In Rivers State, it was the belief of many observers that the Governor Rotimi Amaechi factor would play a major role in the outcome of the elections but it became clear that the PDP machine in the state is too formidable for the APC broom of change to sweep. This manifested in the overwhelming victory the PDP had in the Presidential election. However, the governorship poll results have not been announced by the INEC, which has declared the exercise in the state inconclusive as a result of the alleged observed irregularities and ensuing protests.  The European Union Observer Mission identified the state and Akwa Ibom as states where violence and deliberate interference with electoral processes were most pronounced.  The mission’s Chief Observer, Santiago Fisas, said they observed an increase in security threat in the governorship election, resulting in about 30 people being killed, adding that result in the state included “highly implausible data.”

In the South West, the parties maintained their trends. Ekiti State which has been PDP maintained the stance, while the APC held sway in its traditional abodes of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, and Osun states. It also made a great showing in Ondo State, which the Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, took from Labour Party to PDP some months before the general elections. The fortunes of the PDP were, however, depleted when the deputy governor, some weeks before the general elections, defected with his followers to the APC.

Governor Abiola Ajimobi of the APC won the election to break the age-long jinx in Oyo State where no governor has ever run two consecutive terms. Observers see this feat as resulting from fragmentation of the PDP machine in the state. They said, for example, the PDP house in the state was divided among former governors, Rasheed Ladoja, now of Accord Party, and Chistopher Alao Akala of Labour Party and Teslim Folarin of PDP. Observers say that if the three men had united under the big umbrella, the PDP would have taken the state, considering the number of votes the candidates garnered at the poll.

In Lagos State, the home base of the APC, the landslide victory the APC used to have in the past was challenged by the PDP in the Presidential and Governorship elections.  The voting followed the same pattern. The difference in the votes scored by the two parties in the Presidential poll was about 160,000; the governorship poll showed this figure reducing by about 8,000 votes.  While the APC scored 811,944, the PDP got 657,788 and the results came from the areas where the parties dominated in the Presidential election. The showing of the PDP in the poll, according to political observers, arose from the Jimi Agbaje factor, the alleged sins of the outgoing governor of the state, and the recent threat by the Oba of Lagos to Igbo indigenes in the state.

On the APC victory in the Lagos, analysts say the state stands to gain. An architect and public analyst, Engr. Swanzy Oguike, said the victory at this time when the APC is the ruling party at the centre, would benefit the state. He referred to the 37 local government areas created by the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed administration, which the PDP Federal Government refused to list, saying that it is hoped that the councils would now be listed to put the state in its proper position as the most populous state in the country.  This, according to him, would mean more funds accruing to the state from the Federation Account, which in turn means more infrastructural development in the state.

“Also, the state government, with the support of the Federal Government, can now revive the Independent Power Project (IPP), which it abandoned as a result of the then PDP Federal Government’s opposition to it,” he said, adding that the project would go a long way to address the power supply problem in the state and help generate self-employment.

In North Central zone, Plateau and Niger states presented a very interesting case. Both states which have been PDP states were swept by the APC.  According to political observers, the case of Niger was not so surprising, as they saw it coming when the deputy governor defected to APC at the eve of the elections.

According to Oguike, “What has just happened in Nigeria’s political system is a message to whoever takes the position of leadership should know that it can no longer be business as usual. It is also a strong statement that Nigerians can do it; and truly we can.”