El-Rufai: All the underhand dealings revealed

Not a few Nigerians have been taken aback by the decision of the Senate not to clear former Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and two others as ministerial nominees, citing “security checks”. But, of the three, the one that has generated the most controversy and sent tongues wagging is El-Rufai’s and this is obvious. His contributions to the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as candidate and president are all in the public domain.

El-Rufai opposed the plan of the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, to retain power in the North and led the team of Northern governors who insisted that power must shift to the South.

At the heat of the campaign for APC’s presidential ticket, Aisha, the wife of the immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari reportedly asked him to speak with the other governors who were running for the presidential ticket to step down for Tinubu. He went about the task and a good number of them, especially from the North, stepped down and supported the Tinubu candidacy.

Fast forward to the 8th of June, 2022 when Tinubu emerged as APC’s Presidential candidate.

After his emergence, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and the so-called cabal in the then Federal Government came up with the currency swap initiative.

The Kaduna State Government under the leadership of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and two other state governments sued the Federal Government, the CBN and others, to challenge the policy at the Supreme Court. Later on, other state governments joined the suit; and they won. That was how the currency swap policy and the hardship it brought were mitigated.

Then in October 2022, Tinubu publicly said he would not leave the stage at the Kaduna Investment Summit until El-Rufai rescinded his decision to retire from public office and pursue other private endeavours. He said he needed him to stay and work with him. 

In deference to Tinubu, who was his guest at the time, El-Rufai went on stage to meet him and said he would work with the then incoming government even if it was on part-time basis.

After emerging victorious at the poll, President Tinubu reportedly invited El-Rufai and told him that one of his campaign promises to Nigerians was uninterrupted power supply and that he had looked round and decided that El-Rufai was the man who could deliver for him on that promise.

At first, El-Rufai was said to have hesitated in accepting the offer. Over time, it took the interventions of some patriots and well-meaning Nigerians who allegedly prevailed on El-Rufai to accept the offer.

But, before he accepted the offer to serve, El-Rufai was said to have informed the President that based on his past experiences, it was imperative for gas to be under the same roof with the Federal Ministry of Power since gas was a critical component for electricity supply in this time and age, coupled with the drive for clean energy and climate change. It was said that if the proposal was accepted by the President, the new ministry would be known as Federal Ministry of Energy. 

Informed sources also hinted that El-Rufai proposed the setting up of a National Energy Council under the Chairmanship of the President with representatives of the relevant ministries, agencies and departments, such as Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Petroleum, Federal Ministry of Environment and others.

With all these, it was gathered that the idea was for the President to drive the initiative for uninterrupted power supply while El-Rufai would implement it as Minister of Energy. The President consented and asked him to assemble his team and get to work immediately.

So, with the Presidential directive, El-Rufai assembled a team and began working about three weeks before his name was sent, alongside others, to the Senate for screening on the 27th of July, 2023.

Surprisingly, when El-Rufai appeared before the Senate for the screening, a Senator from Kogi State, Sunday Karimi, after commending El-Rufai for his achievements in public office, said he had a petition against him that bothered on “security, unity and cohesiveness”. He urged the Senate to consider the petition while the screening the nominee.

When El-Rufai wanted to speak to the petition, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio said he should not bother.

His words: “I have to inform all of you that I have received similar petitions from some people against other nominees, but this is not where we are to deal with petitions. Our job here is to screen. And, of course, we can refer petitions to where petitions will be dealt with.

“They are nominees of Mr. President. If it is something where there is a formal petition before the Senate, we will look at it formally. But there are certain petitions we have to refer to the Presidency or security agencies to look at, and that has nothing to do with us. By the time we go into confirmation, we will be so advised. So, I want my brother to take a bow and go, and don’t bother to explain the petition.”

However, discreet investigation has revealed that the petition was allegedly given to Senator Karimi by Akpabio on the morning of the screening exercise. He was only asked to present it. This, perhaps, explains why he was recognized by Akpabio immediately he raised his hands.

Reliable sources in Abuja said Senator Karimi has reportedly apologized to El-Rufai for the embarrassment. Other prominent leaders and politicians from his home state of Kogi have allegedly tendered unreserved apologies and distanced themselves from the petition and the acts of the senator.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the petition, which formed the basis of the non-confirmation of El-Rufai, is the subject of a libel suit which the former governor instituted against the petitioner, one Gloria Mabeiam Ballason, from Southern Kaduna.

Again, contrary to the insinuation that El-Rufai had been banned from holding public office in Nigeria, independent checks have revealed that there is no such resolution. It was a mere recommendation of a Committee of the House of Representatives over 20 years ago. The recommendation has been quashed by a court of competent jurisdiction. Besides, El-Rufai has since become a two-term governor of Kaduna state with outstanding records of performance!

A source at the Senate said even the letter that the President of the Senate relied on to stop the confirmation of El-Rufai and others was not addressed to him. Rather, it was addressed to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) and signed by one Aminu Yusuf, a Director in the office of the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS). The President of the Senate was merely copied. This is against the protocols on Communication between the Executive and the Legislature which forbids the National Assembly from acting on any communication that is not signed by the President, much less one that was not addressed to it.

What has now emerged is that the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, working in cahoots with the Chief of Staff, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, allegedly got a Director in the office of the DG, SSS, to sign the letter when the helmsman of the secret service purportedly refused to do the hatchet job.

Reliable sources alleged that Vice-President Kashim Shettima, Ribadu and Gbajabiamila feel threatened by El-Rufai, especially if he is able to deliver on the task. They do not want him to serve in the government and succeed because they are already planning for 2027 or 3031, as the case may be and they see him as a potential threat to their aspirations.

They are also being allegedly propelled by other forces outside the government.

Some stakeholders in the Power Sector who have been paid between N2billion and N3billion as subsidies for electricity are afraid that with El-Rufai coming onboard, the free money will stop. 

They allegedly lobbied the President not to make El-Rufai the Minister of Energy because they contributed to his campaign.

There are political foes like Shehu Sani and some elements in the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and even some sponsored Muslim clerics are allegedly part of the gang up.

On Tuesday, it was said that El-Rufai requested to see the President. When they met and El-Rufai expressed his reservations about all that happened, the President reportedly asked for 12 hours to investigate the matter and resolve it. On his part, El-Rufai allegedly said 24 hours was ideal given the President’s busy schedule.

It was 24 hours on Wednesday, 9th August, 2023, when the media reported that El-Rufai was at the Presidential Villa to meet with the President.

The meeting, it was gathered, was actually for the team assembled by El-Rufai to make a presentation to the President on their activities and plans to reform the power sector. But surprisingly, at the meeting, the President allegedly began to query some of the things they had agreed on weeks ago about the bringing of Gas under the same roof with Power and to be renamed the Federal Ministry of Energy and other reform initiatives. It seemed the appointing authority has had a change of mind. Hence, all the avoidable drama that dogged the screening and confirmation.

At the end of the meeting, a source at the Presidency said El-Rufai asked the President if he could see him one-on-one in respect of the other matter that the President said he would get back to him on. 

The President reportedly said he needed to see some persons who were waiting for him and that the Director of Protocol would call him to schedule a meeting. The meeting has not held. But, sources close to the former Kaduna state helmsman say he is already at the verge of rejecting the ministerial offer.

As a prelude, El-Rufai has reportedly submitted the Curriculum Vitae of a senator from Kaduna state as a replacement for him since Kaduna state has no representative in the soon-to-be composed Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Sources hinted that the former Governor of Kaduna state has since jetted out of the country to ward off pressures from party stalwarts and concerned Nigerians who are worried about the turn of events, wondering how those who lobbied him to come and serve would turn round to rubbish his enviable public records!

But sources say, whatever is the case, the bulk stops on the President’s desk. 

“If he really means well and wants El-Rufai to deliver for him on constant power supply, he knows what to do to get him confirmed as it happened in the case of Festus Keyamo.

“Recall that during Obasanjo’s administration, El-Rufai had an issue with the lawmakers when he alleged that some of them were demanding bribe from him. Obasanjo intervened and the matter was resolved and the Senate cleared him,” one of the sources said.

It remains to be seen what the President would do in the next couple of days: to keep his words or pander to inanities and thereby sacrifice proven competence and capacity.

Danny Kwangogo writes from Abuja.

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Ministerial list: Of Gbajabiamila, Ribadu and conspiracy theories

It’s rather early but not surprising to see how some vested interests have taken needless umbrage against the Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Gbajabiamila in recent.

It is not out of place to state the obvious that the recent media attacks and negative characterisation of the CoS were fuelled by mischief makers doing the bidding of their sponsors to cast aspersions on the person of Gbaja.

The weaving of negative narratives about an imaginary cabal of Gbajabiamila and Ribadu ahead of 2027 by a known hack writer, Jackson Ude, speaks volume of the extent to which some people intend to go to raise public opprobrium against the former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

It is instructive to note that the series of attack on Gbajabiamila started with the unveiling of the ministerial list of President Bola Tinubu. It is on record that The President enjoyed a widespread support in the buildup to the 2023 elections, which cuts across regions, states, tribes and religions but no matter how generous the President would want to be, there is a limit to the number of ministers he could appoint in his government.

In any case, the appointment of ministers must undergo certain rigorous processes such as screening by security and anti-corruption agencies. And if history is anything to go by, the failure of former presidents to heed to the admonition of the security agencies has a way of boomeranging in the future. The Kemi Adeosun NYSC saga is a case in point.

Needless to say, that there are plenty opportunities for those who missed out in the ministerial list to serve the government and people of Nigeria. Accusing the CoS of conspiracy for certain reasons is a disservice to this distinguished Nigerian, who acquitted himself creditably in service to the nation.
The other day, a very senior newspaper editor had accused Gbajabiamila of “package tampering” of the ministerial list for alleged personal and selfish reasons. He even went comical by claiming that the CoS usurped the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Legislative Matters (Senate) by personally delivering the list to the Senate President.

This is a futile attempt to discredit the CoS, whom I believe is working closely with the SSA.

The claim that Gbajabiamila was the first CoS to deliver ministerial list to the Senate President, as claimed by the senior editor, is also false, as the Chief of Staff to former President Buhari, the Late Abba Kyari, also did deliver ministerial list personally to the Senate President.

It’s important for the lovers of this administration and by extension, lovers of democracy in Nigeria, to support the CoS as his pilots the affairs of one of the complex offices in the Federal Government.

As influential as the Office of the Chief of Staff is, the current occupant of the office is discharging this onerous role with a high sense of responsibility, decorum and equanimity.

Managing and developing the overall structure of government along with experts, control of flow of people to the State House, managing the flow of information and decisions; directing, managing and overseeing all policy development are some of the roles assigned to the Chief of Staff according to Wikipedia. It’s imperative to appreciate that discharging these assigned roles and many more does not amount to forming a cabal in the State House.

On the contrary, the political class is expected to support the CoS with prayers and advice for him to meander through the labyrinths as his supports the President in the “Renewed Hope” Agenda.

As a politician of note, Gbajabiamila has enough capacity to fend off the media attacks but that will amount to a needless distraction from his duty. I will advise those who feel dissatisfied to dialogue instead of mudslinging.

Joseph Y. Chibok writes from Abuja

(Daily Post)

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How Binani almost diminished Fintiri’s influence in Adamawa

The performance of Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, popularly known as Binani, in the just concluded governorship election in Adamawa State symbolises a ray of hope for women in politics. But Binani is not an exception in Adamawa politics; before her others like Grace Bent, Wilbena Jackson and Binta Masi have blazed the trail. The Nation examines the circumstances surrounding such performance by women in politics in a region where the social landscape is predominantly conservative and male-dominated.

From relative obscurity, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, popularly known as Binani, has become a household name in Nigeria. The hard-fighting Binani represents the closest shot at electing a female governor in Nigeria. After the March 18 governorship election was declared inconclusive in Adamawa State, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) polled 430,788 votes to Binani’s 398,788 votes. There were nevertheless high hopes that she could surmount the odds to become the first female governor by defeating the PDP candidate during the April 15 supplementary elections in 69 polling units where the exercise was cancelled.

But, that was a tall order because the election had almost been won by Fintiri. Binani trailed the incumbent governor with 31,249 votes, after the first phase of the election. She will have required nothing short of a miracle to win because it would have entailed having almost a 100 per cent turnout in the supplementary poll and the APC candidate securing at least 90 per cent of the votes. The 69 polling units have 42,785 registered voters but only 36,935 of them have collected their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).

Observers say Governor Fintiri’s victory was not an easy one. The people of Adamawa are not too happy with his performance so far. Besides, some critical stakeholders, it is said, left the party because of his poor reward system. The aggrieved stakeholders include Senator Abbo Ishaku, former Governor Bala Ngilari, and a former federal lawmaker, Senator Bent Grace.

Regardless of the outcome, the 51-year-old APC candidate’s performance in the just concluded election symbolizes a ray of hope for women in politics. Nigeria has been recording low participation of women in both elective and appointive positions over the years; a development that constitutes a growing concern for many Nigerians. For instance, only three women out of the 109 senators-elect in the 2023 general election are female; in contrast to the seven members in the outgoing 9th National Assembly. Aside from two – Mrs Oluremi Tinubu, the wife of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, and Binani– who did not seek re-election, the others lost their bids to return.

It is somewhat ironic, in the view of many observers, that it took a female governorship candidate from the North, an ultra-conservative society where women are usually not to be seen or heard in public, to come close to winning the election. The social landscape of the region is traditional, conservative and male-dominated. As a result, it is a context in which women have long been marginalized from political and electoral processes. Since the return to civil rule in 1999, 15 female candidates from the South have been elected deputy governors in the country; out of a total of 17 in the entire country. But, none have had the chance to succeed their principals as governor. That is why Nigerians across party lines hailed Binani’s effort, despite coming from a region that has had lesser opportunities for women’s representation in politics.

Adamawa State, in the Northeast geopolitical zone, appears to be an exception in the North. The state has been experiencing an increase in the number of women participating actively in politics for some time. Before winning the election to represent Adamawa Central in the National Assembly, Binani represented Yola North/Yola South/Girei Federal Constituency in the Green Chamber during the 7th Assembly, on the platform of the PDP. She is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Even with an economy driven by male-dominated trades like farming, cattle herding and fishing, Adamawa women have been making inroads into politics for several reasons. The state has been decimated by the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009. In May 2013, the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration declared a state of emergency in the entire Northeast, due to the Boko Haram insurgency, which has caused the displacement of some 136,000 people fleeing violence. But, women appear to have taken up the challenge. For inexplicable reasons, women have been encouraged over time to aspire for high positions; and they have been getting such positions.

Wilbena Jackson, a former member of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, said women have increasingly taken an active interest in partisan politics in the Northeast state for a long time. She noted that the greatest strength and potential of women in Adamawa is their ability to mobilize themselves and others. Before Binani became a member of the House of Representatives and later a senator, women from the state had attained such positions in the recent past. For instance, Senator Binta Masi readily comes to mind. Masi had moved from being a member of the House of Reps in 2011 and 2015 to become the state chairman of the APC. Later, she became the lawmaker representing Adamawa North in the Senate between 2015 and 2019.

Before Masi and Binani became key figures in Adamawa politics, there was also Grace Bent who represented Adamawa South at the Senate between 2007 and 2011. Before being elected to represent her constituency at the Senate, Bent was political adviser to the then PDP National Chairman, Audu Ogbeh, Assistant Producer, NTA Kaduna, and Managing Director of Jack Ventures Nigeria.

The Adamawa APC governorship candidate is not new on the big stage; she has paid her dues in business, wealth creation, women and youth empowerment, politics and governance. But, it was her emergence as the APC standard bearer in the recent Adamawa governorship election that brought her national limelight. To secure the party’s ticket, she defeated very notable male politicians: the immediate past Adamawa State governor, Senator Jibrilla Bindow; the pioneer Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, Nuhu Ribadu; the lawmaker who represents Jada/Ganye/Mayo Belwa/Toungo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas; and the immediate past Adamawa APC secretary, Wafari Theman.

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Binani was the only woman in that contest but defeated all the men to emerge as the party’s candidate. She confessed days later that she leveraged the APC’s decision to promote women’s inclusion to achieve that feat. She added that she appealed to the womenfolk to give her their votes and that it worked. The APC had drawn five primary delegates, two of them women, from each of Adamawa’s 226 wards. That meant that altogether 452 women voted in that primary election. Binani had polled 430 votes, while her closest rival, Nuhu Ribadu got 288; with 103 votes going to Bindow and 94 to Namdas.

Before now, the closest attempt to elect a female governor in the country was in 2015, when Aisha Alhassan, popularly known as Mama Taraba, contested the Taraba State governorship also on the platform of the APC. After initial results were declared inconclusive, a supplementary election was held in affected areas. Although the PDP candidate, Darius Ishaku, eventually won the election, an election tribunal subsequently nullified his election and named the late Mama Taraba as the winner and the duly elected governor. However, when the case eventually went before the Supreme Court, Governor Ishaku was confirmed the winner. This outcome did not diminish Alhassan’s well-established standing in the state.

Afolabi Adekaiyaoja, a research analyst at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), believes both Alhassan and Binani were able to make an impact because their contest took place in states with no de facto political godfathers to make or mar their candidatures. He said: “Taraba has not been prioritised in national political dynamics and Adamawa has dispensed with first-term governors in the past to reduce subsequent extended direct influence – so much so that the incumbent Taraba governor lost his bid for the Senate in 2023 and a former Adamawa governor lost in the primary to Binani. In most Southwest states, the influence of former governors and tight party structures has rendered candidate selections largely predetermined. Whilst in the South-south and the Southeast, despite more egalitarian contests, the politics in the zone has seen more tokenism and co-optation from its leaders resulting in a more subdued gender approach. This has led to women being more often recognised through political appointments.

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“A second reason is linked to the fact that both candidates have secured tickets in opposition against their states’ ruling party. The fairly robust elective results in the Northeast – incumbent governors seeking re-election in Adamawa and Bauchi both lost their bids in 2019 – support insurgent candidacies, which are often from more marginalised groups. It is a reason why analysis accounting for the drop in women candidates for the 2023 elections factors in the reduction of political parties, as women are more likely to run on minor party platforms.

“Finally, and increasingly, the electorate has welcomed seasoned legislators who have proven themselves to their citizens and who can provide a good launch pad for more prominent elective positions.

“Binani may be the only woman in the governorship race running on the platform of one of the two major parties, but there are other women seeking state executive positions on other platforms. While the political landscape tells us that these candidacies might be more ambitious than realistic, it is still a testament to the faith in participation that there are increased efforts and platforms to help recruit and support women seeking elective office.

“Nigeria needs more diverse political representation. However, due to the volatility of the political landscape, it is also true that many well-qualified women are unlikely to be enticed by the prospect of jettisoning promising careers to enter the world of highly contested party politics.”

Born on August 11, 1971, Binani went through elementary education in Nigeria before travelling to the UK where she obtained a Higher National Diploma in Electrical Engineering at the University of Southampton. She has successful companies to her name such as Binani Nigeria Ltd., Binwa Press Limited, Triangular Communications Ltd., Golden Crescent Nigeria Ltd., Infinity Telecoms Ltd and Quest Ventures. In Adamawa, her generous gestures include the sinking of boreholes, the provision of scholarships for indigent students, the provision of ICT facilities for schools, paying medical bills, the development of local health care services, economic empowerment programmes, etc. In the course of representing Adamawa Central, she is on record to have empowered a total of 1,667 young people through various skill acquisition initiatives.

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Binani, who holds the title of ‘Gimbiyar Adamawa’ (The Princess of Adamawa), has both legislative experience and pedigree in turning nothing into something as she built her businesses from scratch into multi-million ventures. The people are yearning for her to lead based on her capacity for good governance, her milk of human kindness and her motherly instincts and problem-solving skills; all of which have been obvious in her adult life.

One of the largest states in the country, Adamawa is a microcosm of Nigeria. Besides the dominant Fulani, Adamawa is inhabited by minority tribes. They include the Mumuye, the Higi, the Kapsiki, the Chamba, the Margi (or Marghi), the Hausa, the Kilba, the Gude, the Wurkum, the Jukun, and the Bata peoples. The major languages in the state are Bacama/Bata, otherwise known as Bwatiye, Bura-Pabir, Fulfude, Huba (Kilba), Longuda, Mumuye and Samba Daka. Most other languages in Adamawa are extremely small and endangered minority languages, due to the influence of Hausa and Fulfude. Bordered by Borno to the northwest, Gombe to the west, and Taraba to the southwest, the state’s eastern border forms part of the national border with Cameroon. The state is noted for its cultural heritage which is reflected in its craftsmanship, music and dances, dress patterns, the hospitality of its people and cordial inter-relationship. The state essentially has picturesque mountains, and land traversed by big river valleys of Benue, Gongola and Yedsarem. 

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Adamawa, which was carved out of the northeastern part of the defunct Gongola State in 1991, is also inhabited by a large number of Christians (nearly 54 per cent). Though Islam dominated the region for many decades, Christian missionary activity succeeded in part of the state. Hence, northern Adamawa is home to a large number of Christians; it even hosts two indigenous churches – the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN Church) and the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCCN Church). The Christian communities in the entire Northeast region, including Adamawa, came under heavy military attack during the Boko Haram insurgency. At the height of the insurgency by the end of 2014, militants had killed scores of Christians, mostly men, and forced hundreds of thousands of survivors from towns like Mubi, Madagali and Gwoza to seek safety in camps or with extended families in the state capital, Yola.

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2023: Peter Obi, not eligible to contest for presidency under Labour Party – Findings reveal

The eligibility of the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) for the 2023 general elections, Mr. Peter Obi, is being questioned by some watchers of events, who revealed that the former Anambra State governor became a candidate of the party a few days after becoming a member of the party contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act.

According to them, Section 77 of the Electoral Act 2022 states that each party is required to maintain a membership register in hard and soft copies and to make the register available to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not later than 30 days before the date fixed for primaries, congresses, and conventions.

Recall that on April 30, 2022, the INEC demanded all political parties submit registers of its members.

The LP, however, held its presidential primaries on May 31, 2022, while Peter Obi joined the party on May 27, 2022, four days before the primaries.

“It follows that as of May 31, 2022, when Peter Obi purportedly won the ticket of the Labour Party, his name was not on the register of the party, which had been submitted to INEC in compliance with the requirement of Section 77 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

“One of the constitutional requirements to become President is that the candidate must belong to a political party.

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“Peter Obi is, therefore, not eligible to be a presidential candidate of the party because, at the time he contested and won the ticket, he was not a member of a political party,” said a source, who urged the INEC to “look into the matter and do the needful.”

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Facts on how 2023 presidential poll was won and lost – Opinion

Despite how passion and emotion have run high and even continued to run on the outcome of the presidential elections held on February 25, the mathematics and politics of why the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi respectively including others lost are evidently palpable. Even as judicial interventions are widely expected on the matter, the law, no matter how dispassionate it is or would be, cannot insulate itself from the mathematics and the underlying political implications of the poll outcome.

In simple mathematical terms, had Abubakar and Obi who ran on a single ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2019 and polled 11,262,978 votes or 41.22 per cent have not allowed ambitions to tear them apart,  they would have easily won the 2023 presidential poll. Their separate votes of 6,984,520 and 6,101,533 on their political party platforms of the PDP and LP respectively would have collectively yielded a total of 13,086,103; a handsome incontrovertible number which would have comfortably given them an unquestionable electoral victory.

The candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, declared winner in the presidential poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission with his total vote of 8,794,726 would have trailed behind. Unable to stick together to confront the ruling party whose fortunes were on a free fall for combinations of several reasons, including turncoat,  desperately undermining their party from within, Abubakar and Obi attracted to themselves a well-known misfortune and traditional bogey of opposition parties, who almost all the time, fall when divided.

By the 2019 election when they polled 11 million plus to the incumbent’s 15 million plus, the incumbent president was on the ballot, and the ruling party’s goodwill was still holding to about 50 per cent. But in the build-up to the 2023 presidential election, the ruling party was flat on its belly in terms of goodwill. Ironically, the presidential candidate of the APC and now President-elect, Bola Tinubu, has been pushed out from the party’s mainstream which narrowed down to a tiny powerful clique within the government, that was not only isolated from the broad sentiment of power shift within the party but radiated arrogance and insensitivity. But in the party primary and presidential elections, Tinubu, who some northern governors, about 12 of them, stood for by daring the “presidency cabal,” acquired a reputation as a credible opposition to both their party and government. Even Atiku and Obi at a point entertained some illusions that either of them could be adopted by the powerful clique, who in desperation, were believed to be behind the toxic and vindictive naira design, ostensibly designed to make the ruling party candidate stumble and fall. In the face of the massive dislocation of lives of some Nigerians, arising from the currency design,  Obi and Atiku stayed ambivalent and probably hoping to profit from the goodwill of those that instigated the naira design mayhem, while only the ruling party and its candidates stood in firm  opposition to the measure. For the avoidance of doubt, there is nothing in the naira design measures that comes near a policy. It was last minute political vendetta aimed at scuttling the electoral process or at best, to make the ruling party candidate lose the election.

The fact that the naira design and its component of the withdrawal of the old notes fell apart, soon after the election demonstrated unambiguously that its purpose was narrowly focused on politics.

Plainly speaking, had Abubakar and Obi managed to hold together and hold in check, their respective ambitions that tore them apart, both the geo-political and ethno-religious sentiments prevailing in the country were overwhelming on their side. The South-East which has always been the traditional base of the PDP dramatically went to the LP. Obi and his LP dutifully harvested the widely shared sentiment in the region of “our turn.” Whatever became later of the hurricane of the Obidient movement was triggered by regional and ethnic sense of entitlement, which in itself, is not an aberration and it was in that regards that Obi backed out of the PDP nomination, in conforming to the mainstream position in the South-East, that the region will not play the second fiddle. The Obedient movement, mostly powered by social media activism, promoted as pan-Nigerian secular movement attested to its origin and its limits, when the electoral chickens came home to roost after the elections. If our recent history is a guide, the LP and its candidate’s stridency is not entirely new. In 2013, the APC was created after merging with Congress for Progressive Change, Action Congress of Nigeria, a faction of the PDP, the All Progressives Grand Alliance and eventually won the 2015 presidential poll which produced President Buhari, who had previously lost two elections. Despite not being powered by social media activism; the CPC was even a more formidable hurricane.

Without a credible political interlocutor in the South or more specifically, the South-West, the CPC failed to make any inroad to other parts of the country, except the North. In the 2011 presidential poll, Buhari of the CPC polled 12,214,853 votes or 31.97 per cent of the total votes and still fell short of the 22,495,187 votes that gave the candidate of the ruling PDP, Jonathan Goodluck victory. When the next governorship and state assembly polls were held later, the CPC managed to win only one state, Nasarawa in North-Central.

In a similar political diminutive vision, the LP presidential candidate chose a running mate, a northern entrepreneur with little or no grass-root political appeal and who even lost his polling unit. As Buhari had no credible political interlocutor to the South in 2011, Obi’s electoral hurricane simply hit a brick wall going northwards and the little wind left in its sail lost steam by the time the governorship and state assembly elections were held three weeks later. As its historical parallel partner, the CPC, the LP took only one state, Abia, in the South- East. Following its poor electoral showing, the party reinvented itself  and  in 2015, what the CPC lacked in organisation, geopolitical spread and resources, it dutifully found in the grand merger with other three political parties along with a dissident faction of the ruling PDP and the rest is now history.

After the CPC hurricane blew feverishly and faltered, leading to the ‘weeping’ of candidate Buhari, he quickly realised that neither the cult following of his fanatical supporters nor his reputation as a nonsense army general was enough to deliver an electoral victory on a national scale. The LP, its presidential candidate, Obi and their allied obedient movement should never ignore the instructions of the lessons in the rise, fall and transformation of the CPC. It is either the party plants itself firmly in Kaura Namoda, Daura, Dustima and other northern communities or seeks alliance with parties having credible engagements in these areas or continues basking in the illusion that zealous following with a considerable dose of political rudeness will translate to electoral success.

For the PDP, it let pass its finest political and electoral hour. It only sacked its former National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, after it had lost the election, when it would have approached the election as a united party, accepted demands of its dissident five governors, who not only distracted the party but also undermined it from within. If these five governors did not add to the party’s fortunes, at least they would not have openly subtracted from its electoral fortunes.

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The camp of the president-elect has openly admitted that, had the splinter Abubakar, Obi and the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Rabiu Kwankwaso, joined forces as they did four years earlier in 2019; winning for the APC would have been an uphill task, if not an outright impossibility. Except for the purpose of keeping the political space noisy and to maintain adversarial posture of opposition parties as the alleged substance of liberal democracy, it is not really far-fetched on why and how the 2023 presidential election was won and lost.

Onunaiju sent this from Abuja via onunaiju2005@yahoo.com

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