By Ramoni Kabiru and Ogundotun Adeola

Election

Without iota of skepticism, election is the most indispensable hallmark of democracy, and Nigeria should not be left out among the practitioners. Though election exists to bring about change in government, and not just as a slogan from any political party, through which people would be allowed to choose their representatives in government without any trace of intimidation; however, this could also be called into question. Nigeria has experienced different kinds of electioneering outcomes since the inception of her deceptive independence. Nevertheless, the 2015 election is still regarded as the freest, fairest and the most credible one so far, since the results of 1993 was not feracious.

Moreover, it is not an article of faith that the operations and successfulness of any electioneering exercise depend largely on diligent cum independence of the commission in charge. Little wonder, when sometime this year the Independent National Electoral Commission made public the timetable for 2019 elections, it raised dust in the air. Some argued it was too early, while others argued in favour of it. However, the point of concern is which political party gets to control the machinery of the state by 2019? Would it be PDP, the non-formidable opposition? Or would it be APC, the ailing ruling party?

The old adage that “Opposition don’t win elections, government lose them”, is a common factor around here. Government supposedly loses elections when the people are totally estranged with their policies. If that claim is true, the ailing ruling party in Nigeria should be ready to vacate the Aso Villa by 2019. But at the same time, given the condition of things in Nigeria now, I wonder what the fate of that claim will be. Given the modus operandi of social science, the old adage will serve as hypothesis, and one or more illustrious examples will be given to back or disprove it; then prediction is made. Consequent to these one or two examples shall be considered to test the adage, then we will predict given Nigeria’s context.

             For instance: Wilson Churchill, who came into power at the wake of the second world war in 1940 (through coalition), rose to great fame for his unflinching determination to defeat Nazism. But it became so shocking that Churchill and his Conservative party lost in 1945 election to Attlee and his Labour party. Why? The British people wanted social reform after the war, but Churchill was reluctantly obstinate to acknowledge this. Summarily a British historian puts it this way: “the conservative defeat in 1945 had much to do with the party’s inability to ride the powerful tide of what was called ‘reconstruction’.

            Goodluck Jonathan administration also proves this hypothetical adage right. The administration became very unpopular because of its unending corruption (blatant misappropriation and siphoning of public fund), their inability to offset the economic hardship of Nigerians; and their gross inability to shed insecurity.

            Once again, “opposition don’t win elections, government loses them”. Will this be true again in 2019? The Buhari led administration is established on high hopes. It promised to eradicate corruption, fix power supply problem, eradicate insecurity perpetrated by the insurgent group (Boko Haram), obliterate economic difficulty (by diversifying the economy, reducing dollar-naira exchange rate, and many more). Although the government can be credited for reducing insecurity induced by the Boko Haram insurgence, the condition of things in Nigeria is un-laudable in the bigger picture. The administration recorded (in two years) zero MWT of electricity supply, the first of its kind since independence. In two years: a sporadic upsurge in naira-dollar exchange rate has been witnessed, un-plummeting inflation in prices of goods and services has made cost of living unaffordable for average Nigerians; poverty level has increased, starvation has hit Nigeria so strongly (5.1 million people in the North East of Nigeria are said to be starving by the UN).

 

Should we discuss the unwholesome fight against corruption? A fight that has been perceived as one-sided or witch-hunting of political opponents. Should we discuss the condition of the 8th National Assembly (an institution dominated by the APC)? An institution that has been considered the worst since the beginning of the fourth republic? Should we discuss the unending skirmishes between the legislature and the executive? A skirmish that has been considered as one showing the weakness of the president. Should we discuss the delayed problem solving policies? Nigerians are asking why it took the government so long to disburse fund into the right channel to reduce the upsurge in dollar-naira exchange rate; or why it took the government two years to come up with economic plan to checkmate the recession. And many more nerve racking issues to discuss.

All the perceived failures of the APC/Buhari government are not without excuses from them or their unwavering supporters. Blaming the last administration/PDP for their woes is not an uncommon excuse, until now that it is meeting some certain resistance from the public. Blaming the crash in the price of oil per barrel in the international market is not a strange weapon used by this government. That “corruption is fighting back” is another excuse, the last that breaks the back of the camel. However, all these excuses hold no water for the suffering people; yet they are resounding.

It is easy to prognosticate, given our hypothesis in relations to the current socio-economic and political conditions that the government will lose. Howbeit, the non-formidability of the opposition is worth considering, as this will definitely determine the outcomes too. PDP, for now seem to be the only party with weight that can challenge the ruling party in 2019 elections. Nevertheless, the unceasing schism within the party is enough to make it lose. To back this claim, the Ondo state PDP crisis of division in the last gubernatorial election lends credence. The irreconcilable factions of the party make it impossible to have proper synergy towards the election. Constitutionally, according to the court’s ruling, Sheriff is the leader of the party, but the record or political pedigree of Sheriff might ruin the chances of PDP at the elections. In fact, this has been the argument of the Makarfi faction. Another factor worth considering for the non-formidability of PDP is that they are yet recover from trust of ‘the people’ they have lost. Furthermore, APC are yet to exhaust all their lifelines.

Hence, this will make me, like Femi Adeshina, to take a diametrical to the adage. This government despite glaring reasons to lose seems bold and strong enough to win the contest because; the opposition is not ‘winning’. The 2015 election was revolutionary not because of turn-out but because it unseated the party in government. Given the condition of the opposition Nigerians cannot afford to go for that revolutionary vote again in 2019. Nigerians will rather stick with the weaknesses of APC than go for the gross ineptitude of PDP. As much as I don’t want this to happen this seem to be the flagrant truth for now. Femi Adeshina is right: Buhari [APC] will win if he contests in 2019. Finally, I’m still skeptical if APC can lead this country to the Promised Land because of her overconcentration on anti-graft war that is in turn creating and propagating serious dilemma in the various sectors of the economy.

Kabiru and Adeola are graduates Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.

TAURARUWA