By OLUSOLA AJIBOYE
Until the last vote was registered at the National Collation Centre of Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC in Abuja on Monday 27th February, 2023, majority of Nigerians were oblivious that the fiercest and most keenly contested presidential and parliamentary polls in the annals of the country’s political history had held.
Over Twenty four (24) Million legitimate votes were counted out of Ninety Three (93) Million registered votes. The polls were unique by the strings of paradigm shifts recorded. Enclaves of political god fathers, impregnable for years were bursted and their manacled grips on the electorate shaken off. The February 2023 polls were indeed, classic lessons in demographic change.
No one could have expected the upturning of the apple-carts in Lagos, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kano, where god fathers of politics were in control, belching orders. In these and other states, the unexpected happened all the same.
The struggles, strategies, maneuverings, horse-tradings, alliances and fireworks by political gladiators before the elections revealed the high-stake underhand character of Nigeria Politics and its active players in the race for power. Political contests in Nigeria are acrimonious because the contestants leave tiny spaces for service and patriotism in their inordinate quests for power.
Now that the winner and losers are officially declared, it is necessary to assess an election that dislodged old blocks and almost changed the gentrocratic narrative of Nigeria’s Political order. It is also imperative to examine the critical stir-points of the elections and the responses of major contenders to its outcome.
Why and how was the ultimate trophy retained by the ruling All Progressive Congress-APC? Why did the major opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party – PDP allow the trophy slip off its grips? What is the implication of the poll result on the future of the Peoples’ Democratic Party?
Not a few political watchers and analysts are curious on why the main opposition PDP lost an election they felt it could have won easily and convincingly. They believe that indicators for victory over the ruling party were discernable a long time before the polls were held but the opposition blew a golden chance.
Democratic contests are decided by performance – Capacity and strategies either by ruling or opposition parties. For most Nigerians, particularly victims of the male feasances of the APC administration, its eight (8) year tenure exhibited a glaring performance defeceit in all sectors and as a result, shouldn’t be trusted with power for a third season.
Critiques of the outgoing administration are sure ready with a litany of accusations that bother on unimaginable looting of public till, lack of accountability by its top notchers, accumulation of doubtful debts, systemic weakening of the naira, erosion of the country’s foreign reserves burgeoning unemployment, serial constitutional infractions, extra-judicial killings, sponsored ethnic genocidal attacks and creation of fertile grounds for the country’s disintegration by nepotism and unequal treatment of equals.
Critiques point to all these as potent factors to kick the All Progressive Congress Administration out of Aso-Rock. Inspite of all these, the Ruling Party won the presidential poll by a margin of four point two (4.2) Million votes.
The outcome of the election has provoked cynics to ask if the main opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party is destined to remain out of power. Nothing beguiles their pessimism than how the PDP flag-bearer, Atiku-Abubakar allowed the winning trophy slip off instead of holding it with a strong grip of his hands.
Why did he fail?
The Peoples’ Democratic Party is often described as a victim of leadership weakness caused by inability of the party’s stakeholders to manage its success. Critiques describe the PDP as a party that came to power on a platter of gold without having to struggle for it. Nigerians were tired of military rule and the party provided the pad for the citizens to launch their desire for democracy.
Rather than build a formidable party, stakeholders engaged in wars of attrition that weakened its capacity for winning strategies and promoted a penchance that jettisoned collective goal for self agenda. Critiques are therefore of the opinion that the Peoples’ Democratic Party has unfortunately lost the will – power to rise above its self inflicted pitfalls.
The PDP lost the February, 2023 Presidential poll because its National Chairman, the dissenting G5, and the flag-bearer himself collectively let go, the winning trophy. Why did Iyorchia Ayu make a statement he knew he could not defend? What could the party had lost if he stepped down his position as promised?
What gain(s) did his refusal to honour his promise conferred on the party? Why did the G5 Governors fail to look at the larger picture of dislodging the APC that has kept their party in the cold for Eight (8) years?.
Was the PDP flag-bearer pragmatic to have ignored a repeat of President Jonathan’s 2015 gullible confidence of “being on top of the “situation” when he was actually at the bottom of it?
Political analysts and game players will continue to blame Atiku for chosing an way to victory by relying on extraneous power groups in Aso Rock to make him President-instead of focusing on the opportunities within his own party.
Nyelson Wike, a bad loser with an agenda different from that of his party latched on Atiku’s poor response to his ambition to rail-road the G5 into agitations that proved fatal to PDP chances in the elections.
When it was apparent that the reconciliatory meetings were mere papering of the cracks in the party, Atiku-Abubakar should have persuaded Iyorchia-Ayu to step down.
He failed to do that and the broken Jar could no longer mend. A serious contender with bitter experiences of failures that Atiku is but with eyes fixed on the goldenfleece shouldn’t have dismissed possible damages which the G5 perfidy could cause the PDP.
Did the Peoples’ Democratic Party prepared grounds for its own defeat?
Until the last is heard on the epical February 25th General elections, the Shenaniganism and intrigues for power within the Peoples’ Democratic Party and the extraneous interests against its victory will dominate discourse in the public space.
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