Why Buhari Won


Muhammad Al-Ghazali




Imagine that you are one of the Governors of the PDP from one of the North-western states of Nigeria. In the run-up to the 2011 Presidential elections, you worked tirelessly to sale the candidacy of a certain Goodluck Jonathan from the South-South, at a time the entire North wanted to retain the presidency following the demise of Umar Musa Yar'Adua barely two years into his tenure as President.


As the incumbent PDP Governor of the state, you swallowed the gentleman agreement with Jonathan. In return for your support, and those of your peers from the same party in the northwest region, Jonathan agreed to serve for only one term after his election in 2011. You campaigned aggressively for his re-election, and, for a hugely conservative state, ''delivered'' over 300,000 votes which was a tremendous achievement since the north's "real" sentimental candidate at the time, Muhammadu Buhari, could muster only slightly over 500,000. It was more than the 25% performance threshold Jonathan required from a state he had absolutely no hope of winning.


You retired happily to bed and rubbed your hands with glee for a job well-done. You then sat back and waited patiently expecting to be rewarded for your efforts. But almost two years into his fresh tenure, Jonathan failed to fulfil any of the campaign promises he made to your constituency in 2011. You even had one senior Minister replaced with a junior one. You finally summon enough courage to visit and remind Mr. President of his unfulfilled promises. He asks you to save your breath. You are then flattened by the ultimate sucker punch as the president retorts:  "After all, how many of your people voted for me? Was it not mostly the Igbo's and Christian minorities that voted for me in your state?"


In the next several months and years, when volumes are written on the actual reasons why President Jonathan became the first Nigerian leader to fail in his re-election bid, one important factor will rank highest for its singular potency, in my opinion.  A lion share of the blame must be attributed to the shabby and disrespectful manner President dealt with a majority of the governors from the northwest and north-central parts of Nigeria after his successful re-election in 2011. His humiliating defeat last week was only the anti-climax. The story is factual. It resulted from an interesting discussion I had with one of the affected governors a few months ago.


Therefore, if truth must be told, the moment President Jonathan succeeded in alienating those governors; he triggered a chain of events he could no longer control.  Those events reached a crescendo with the ultimate metamorphoses of the PDP into the emphatic regional and minority party it became last week. The late Chief Sunday Awoniyi, of blessed memory, and the rest of the founding fathers of the PDP, dead or alive, must be turning in their graves.  


A major re-alignment of political forces in the dynamics of Nigerian politics (the alliance between the southwest and the north) was also confirmed in the process. Not that it wasn’t evident the moment the current leadership of the APC did the very un-Nigerian thing of putting aside their petty differences to mould a formidable platform with the sole purpose of dethroning the People Democratic Party (PDP)behemoth at the centre; but Nigerians still needed a final confirmation to that effect. The confirmation, when it eventually came, was devastating.


All along, I had told the few friends who cared to listen that all Buhari needed to do to win was to split the votes from the southwest with President Jonathan. As it turned out, he did even better. Except for Ekiti state, led by the whitlow of the Southwest Ayo Fayose, the APC was imperious in all the other states Buhari ‘lost’ handsomely to President Jonathan in 2011.  Suddenly, all the permutations from eccentric minders of the President such as Femi Fani Kayode,  Doyin Okupe, and Olisa Metuh, seemed exactly what they have always been in the minds of discerning Nigerians – expensive jokes taking too far. They obviously took Nigerians for granted.


Still,the biggest injury we can inflict on commonsense is to imagine that Jonathan's defeat came as a surprise to anyone, including Mr. President, or the diminished party he piloted to self-destruction. The same also applies to the tiny colony of crony capitalists that swarm around the Aso Rock Villa at all times like vultures; or even the incredibly naive politicians from the southeast region, who should have only themselves to blame. They realised too late that the contest was no longer between Jonathan and Buhari. It was more like a referendum on the continued leadership of the PDP.


The warning was long in coming for all, including those PDP henchmen from the Southeast, who confirmed their political illiteracy for the umpteenth time, and must now serve as sorry spectators to the APC conducts the affairs of government from the center. The normally innovative and enterprising Ndigbo have been sold a dud cheque by a few of their greedy leaders. They remain the sole occupants of the deserted PDP house crass opportunism. The big tragedy is that they had abundant prior warning. 


Prominent Igbo leaders like Rochas Okorocha and Ogbonaya Onu were emphatic in their warnings. For weeks in the lead-up to the elections, Dele Momodu, warned of the impending annihilation of the PDP at the center in his weekly column for ThisDay newspaper. His reasoning, it seems, did not wash with the president and his handlers. Momadu warned, in particular, that the numbers - in terms of the potential loss of votes - no longer added up for the PDP after the defection of its five governors.


Neither Jonathan; his party the PDP, or even his gregarious aides and handlers, paid him any attention. After the departure of the governors, numerous sycophants hastened to fill their void. These characters, made up of mostly the governors from the south-south and the southeast, included others even from opposition parties sympathetic to the president such as the then Anambra state Governor Peter Obi, then with APGA.


They revelled in their self importance. They also enjoyed their unlimited access to the President at all times. By contrast, their departed colleagues from the Northwest in particular, spent days loitering in Abuja for an opportunity to see their leader (Jonathan) on important matters of state to no avail.


And as the days went by the gap and the between President Jonathan and those governors widened. At the same time the influence of the Akwa Ibom state Governor Godswill Apkabio blossomed.  It was Apkabio who kept deluding the president that those ''for him'' were more than ''those against'' him.  He reminded his aggrieved peers from the north who urged the president to respect his ''one term'' vow that only God could take or give power. How prophetic his words proved to be!


Last week, God almighty, decided to elect a new leader for Nigeria, and it wasn't President Goodluck Jonathan. I don't know about Apkabio, but the God I serve is a just God and cannot be deluded. Nothing can possibly justify the vile and despicable campaign orchestrated by the PDP. Nothing can explain the repulsive lies they told to gain traction with the long abused Nigerian voters, or even the disgraceful recourse to regional and religious sentiments for political capital. Nothing can also heal the grievous injury inflicted on the abducted children of Chibok, and their long-suffering parents, not by the act itself but the painful and irresponsibly negation of the social contract they had with the Nigerian government.


On March 28th 2011, Nigerians served a devastating message to incompetent leaders who sought to divide them on the basis of primordial sentiments to elongate their sorry regime of mediocrity. With the outcome of the elections in the North-central states in particular, it is obvious that the religious card is now like expired drugs which is to be shunned forever


When the history of the 2011 elections are documented for posterity, prominent mention must be made of the exemplary conduct and performance of Professor Attahiru Jega, and electronic devices he employed. Let us also rise and salute our brothers and sisters from the southwest region for their emphatic statement. In the past some, especially from the north misunderstood their intransigence especially on the genesis and dynamics of June 12 foe pettiness. Today, we bow in apology in appreciating that it was not done out of spite. They stand on the right side of history. They saved the Fourth Republic.