Saturday, April 2, 2011

2011: Presidential election headed for deadlock

News Nigeria - Just days before the presidential election scheduled for April 9, investigations by LEADERSHIP show that the election might be headed for a cliff hanger. But handlers of incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan are optimistic that their principal would floor his challengers in the first ballot, making a runoff needless. LEADERSHIP reporters nationwide gathered that the president's main challenger, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), the standard bearer of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), would put up a strong showing in most of the northern states. In the North-West zone, the former head of state may sweep more than 70 per cent of the votes in the states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa and Kano. In Kaduna State, he may split the votes with Jonathan.

Buhari is also likely to win more than 75 per cent of the votes cast in Jigawa and Kano. Findings indicate that Buhari's popularity in Kano may have effectively eclipsed Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, another presidential contender on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

Buhari, however, is likely to sweep more than 80 per cent of the votes in the North-Eastern states of Borno and Yobe, 60 per cent in Bauchi, Adamawa and Gombe while he might win 30 per cent in Taraba. This is against a projected Jonathan's 15 per cent in Borno, 10 per cent in Yobe, 50 per cent in Taraba, 20 per cent in Bauchi, 30 per cent in Gombe and 30 per cent in Adamawa.

In the North-Central geopolitical region, Jonathan may lead in four of the six states: as much as 60 per cent in Kogi to Buhari's 30; 50 per cent in Benue to Buhari's 30; 60 per cent in Plateau to Buhari's 30. The CPC candidate is, however, presumed to be ahead of Jonathan in Niger and Nasarawa states; he is expected to sweep more than 70 per cent of the votes.

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) presidential candidate, Nuhu Ribadu, may make a surprise showing in Kwara State with 25 per cent of the total votes just like Buhari, while Jonathan would garner as much as 35 per cent, making Kwara one of the two states where three major candidates might score the required 25 per cent of the votes.

Jonathan is expected to sweep more than 80 per cent of the votes in all the South-East and South-South states.

But the South-West would be the battleground for the elections. It is possible for Jonathan, Buhari and Ribadu to get their required 25 per cent in Lagos. In Oyo State, 40 per cent of voters are rooting for Jonathan, 25 per cent for Buhari and 30 per cent for Ribadu. In Osun, 35 per cent is for Jonathan, and 60 per cent for Ribadu. The CPC has not yet made inroads.

According to our findings, Jonathan may win 25 per cent in 24 states while Buhari may win in 20 states; Ribadu in seven and Shekarau in none. As the electoral history of this country shows, a candidate that would be president must decisively win either the South-West or North-West. Jonathan does not appear to be dominant in either. He is not likely to win North-West and would share the South-West. Because of that, even though he may have more spread, Buhari may have a greater number of votes. That is obviously the calculation of the opposition parties. But if the president surprisingly does much better than expected in the South-West, he could win on the first ballot.

On the other hand, if Buhari gets 25 per cent in all South-West states as many of his supporters are predicting, that will give him 25 per cent in 24 states in addition to garnering the overall majority of the votes - enough to give him victory in the first round.

This analysis is based on the assumption that the elections will be free and fair and that the people will be ready to protect their votes.

Assumptions and strategies of the politicians

• Many of the governors across the parties still intend to rig the elections

• Jonathan's PDP believes it will win on the first ballot, working to get 25 per cent in the 19 states of the North

• Buhari's CPC believes it will win on the first ballot. They believe they will get the required 25 per cent in all South-West states. This belief is pervasive amongst its South-West chieftains and operatives.

• Ribadu's ACN thinks it will come second in an inconclusive presidential election that will compel Buhari to throw his weight behind Ribadu in the runoff.

• Jonathan's aides have started the last-minute campaign of subtly promoting Jonathan's candidacy as distinct from PDP's candidate. In other words, they are trying to avoid the widespread antipathy against the PDP from rubbing off on their candidate.

• The majority of PDP's apparatchiks and Jonathan's campaign aides still want to take advantage of incumbency to rig the elections. Jonathan is clearly on his own by insisting that no one should rig for him. But they are not sure of what Professor Attahiru Jega has in stock, especially as the INEC chairman has vigorously protected his independence unlike his predecessors. It will also depend on how far the ordinary people will go to "protect their votes".

Our Findings

• This assumption is based on the fact that the election will be credible.

• Jonathan is very weak in most northern states but may be able to get the required 25 per cent only in Kaduna in the North-West, Gombe and Taraba in North-East and even slimmer chances in Adamawa and Bauchi states. In the North-Central, he may also get more than the required 25 per cent in Benue, Plateau, Kwara and Kogi states. Jonathan may, however, win in the FCT.

• Buhari is very weak in the South-South and South-East and not likely to get 25 per cent in any of the states. Buhari is, however, likely to get the overwhelming majority in Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Niger, Nasarawa and Gombe states. He may get about a half of the votes in Kaduna. He may also get more than a comfortable 25 per cent in Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Kwara and more than 40 per cent in Adamawa. Kogi State is very dicey for the CPC presidential candidate.

• Nuhu Ribadu is not really on ground in Lagos as is to be expected. Ninety per cent of those in Lagos who told LEADERSHIP that they would vote for Fashola for governor did not name Ribadu as their presidential candidate. This is also substantially true among most of the South-West states.

• In the North, Ibrahim Shekarau does not seem to have made any headway, even though most people were impressed with his performance at the presidential debate. Shekarau does not even appear poised to give Buhari a respectable fight in Kano.

• Those in the opposition who claim that the presidential election is headed for a runoff and those in the PDP who say Jonathan will win on the first ballot all have reasonable grounds for their positions. If the CPC and ACN are able to prevent Jonathan from getting 25 per cent in Ondo, Ekiti and Osun especially, and CPC is able to limit his entry into the North, then, there will be a runoff. But if Jonathan gets 40 per cent of the South-West states including Lagos, and gets up to 25 per cent in up to 10 northern states, he will win at the first round.

• Ethnicity, religion and other pedestrian considerations still rate high among voters.

• Clearly, the South-West is the battleground for Jonathan, Buhari and Ribadu. The grass roots that know only the ACN may vote Ribadu. They would not, strictly speaking, be voting Ribadu. They would be voting for ACN. The majority of the elite and traditional rulers are rooting for Buhari. Many, in-between, will vote Jonathan. The Igbo population in Lagos, a third of the six million voters of the complex city, are likely to vote Jonathan. Ogun has a large population of northerners, in addition to the rapport between Buhari and the ACN governorship candidate who may give the CPC candidate leverage in the state. He is also close to the ACN governorship candidate and there are signs that Pastor Tunde Bakare has been able to strike some deals with some key power centres in the South-West.

SOURCE:Afrique en ligne

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