Thoughts On Nigeria's Elections
|President Goodluck Jonathan casting his vote|
After what seemed like an eternity, Nigerians have finally been able to cast votes in a presidential election. As I speak, the election is going on in Nigeria and many polling places have actually verified voter registration cards and millions of votes have already been cast in an election that is keenly watched by Nigerians (and friends of Nigeria) both in Diaspora and at home. This is an exercise that started on Saturday and is continuing through Sunday—very soon, the exercise will be over and Nigerians can find out who has won the election.
I am not going to bore you by noting that there are more than 10 different political parties in this election, nor am I going to point out that there were more than 10 candidates out there either. Nevertheless, we have already known that there were two main contenders for this fight. In the one corner, we have the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan representing the ruling party PDP, and in the other corner we have five-time presidential aspirant and former military ruler of the country General Muhammadu Buhari who is the flag bearer for the APC—the biggest and staunchest opposition party to the president’s party.
In early exit polls, it does appear that Goodluck Jonathan is being bested by Buhari. Early reporting shows that Buhari is convincingly trouncing Goodluck in the elections despite what anyone might have thought concerning Jonathan’s path to success. The poll returns are indeed shaping up to be a convincing verdict of no confidence on the Jonathan administration. Worse, for those crunching the numbers and looking at statistical probabilities, it appears mathematically impossible to conjure up a Jonathan victory given the convincing margin with which Buhari is leading.
So where is this oft-averred “power of incumbency”?
|General Muhammadu Buhari casting his vote|
There is usually a sense that in many African elections, it is virtually impossible to dislodge a sitting president in a free and fair election—primarily because, a sitting president usually had formidable tools in his arsenal and the requisite political machinery as well as the sufficient monetary war chest (often gotten through corrupt and questionable means) needed to secure a victory no matter how popular the opposition may be. This sense seems to have been trumped in this particular election. Not only is the president’s party bleeding support all over the country, it seems as if the opposition has virtually made it impossible for the president to transform any advantage he might have had into political or electoral gains. It is not surprising therefore that many savvy politicians, eager to save their own political hide, have abandoned the PDP ship being steered by Jonathan, and are taking steps to secure their own continuity in office.
Something has to give somewhere or there will simply be no way to convince the majority of Nigerians that Jonathan has somehow managed to overturn the deficits to win.