The 9 Biggest Political Casualties Of The 2015 Nigerian General Elections
By Carlhz Chinedu
The April 11 Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections have come and gone, bringing to an end over 12 months of rigorous electioneering and scheming. Winners have emerged and the also-rans are counting their financial and political loses. Some losers, however, were obviously worse affected than others. Below is a compilation of the biggest casualties of the March 28 and April 11 political hurricanes.
Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu:
The Niger State “Chief Servant’s” woeful performance at both the March 28 and April 11 elections has called into question his supposed status as a force to be reckoned with in the Nigerian political equation. The long-serving Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) not only failed to “deliver” his state to the PDP’s Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the Presidential Polls and in his bid to ensure that his anointed candidate, Umar Nasko, succeeds him at the Minna Government House, but he also fluffed in his quest to represent the Niger East Senatorial Zone in the 8th Senate. It’s really been a season of reality checks for the once-influential governor, a politician who was reportedly being groomed by some power brokers in the North to succeed Goodluck Ebele Jonathan come 2019. He was even widely quoted in the local press few weeks ago as saying that he intends to “mark time” in the Senate while he awaits the 2019 General Elections when he would take a shot at the country’s top job. All that is up in the air now. As it stands, instead of waiting in the senate, he will be marking time at home while he counts his loses and plans his next political move.
These are not the best of times for the PDP nationwide, more so in Lagos state. The party’s huge losses at the polls is made much worse by the fact that Lagos state is the de facto nerve center of the APC. Depending on how the APC goes about governing both the country and the state, the once-dominant PDP may be reduced to oblivion. The PDP’s sudden loss of prominence will definitely instigate a flurry of realignments and defections into the new ruling party. The losses will be asphyxiating no doubt, but the PDP’s continued survival and robustness in Lagos state is crucial for the democracy over there, else the “Center of Excellence” runs the risk of becoming a one-party state where no-one dares question or check the excesses of the ruling party. Four years is not eternity; 2019 is not as far as it seems. There’s enough time between now and then for the party to rediscover itself and mount a greater challenge.
David Mark and Gabriel Suswam: Not even the combined might of a two-time Senate President and an incumbent governor could stop the APC from snatching a hard-fought victory in Benue state. The PDP’s latest defeat in Benue didn’t come as a surprise to many this time around, following its shock loss in the state at the presidential polls. The party’s overall poor showing at the National Assembly elections will almost certainly cost David Mark the presidency of Nigeria’s Upper Legislative Chamber — a position which he has held since 2007 — while Governor Suswam’s running battle with the Benue state civil servants has cost him both a ticket to the 8th Senate and a governorship ticket for his anointed candidate, Terhemen Tarzoor. What becomes of both men in the Nigerian political arena come the next administration is anyone’s guess.
The revered former anti-corruption boss’ sojourn into the murky waters of politics has so far not been fruitful. He contested and lost the 2011 Presidential elections on the platform of the ACN to the PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan. In 2014, he controversially defected to the PDP from what had morphed into the APC with hopes of contesting on the platform of the PDP and probably winning the Adamawa state gubernatorial election. However, it was not to be. He was gifted the opportunity of running for the office, but he was always doomed to fail, following alleged anti-party activities and sabotage by members of his own party. This culminated in a comprehensive defeat on April 11, where he finished in an embarrassing third place.
His party may have been victorious at the Presidential polls, but it’s been a pyrrhic victory for the APC chieftain. His failure to “deliver” his state to the All Progressives’ Congress a fortnight ago was partially overlooked and forgiven amidst the euphoria surrounding their triumph at the national level, but April 11’s heavy defeat will not go unnoticed. The Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council could do little as his party was trounced in a state where he is the governor, at the hands of the his arch rival, the Dame Patience Jonathan-backed Nyesom Wike of the PDP. Amaechi may be an integral part of the incoming APC-led federal government, but back home in the South South, his influence has been significantly whittled down.
Even his status as the incumbent Vice President and a one-time governor of Kaduna could not ward off a heavy loss for his party in his home state. Though no-one really expected him to “deliver” the North — or even the North West — to the PDP, the low-key and ever-smiling Vice President should have brought much more to the table in the March 28 and April 11 elections than he ended up doing.
This has been the People’s Democratic Party’s worst performance since its inception in 1998, prior to Nigeria’s return to civilian rule. Every organization has a leader whose responsibilities are to manage its affairs and accept culpability for the outcomes of his managerial decisions and tactics, especially when they are negative. In this instance, Mu’azu (branded the “Game Changer” by his PDP colleagues) must shoulder the blames for his party’s disastrous outing in the just-concluded polls, though it was not entirely of his own making. Under his watch, the PDP lost several states where it was once dominant, including Plateau, Niger, Adamawa, Benue, Katsina and Kaduna (Abia will also likely be lost to APGA), and it put up a limp performance in Opposition-controlled states where it was expected to do much better, including Oyo, Ogun, Nasarawa, Kano, Kwara, Sokoto, Lagos and Bauchi, his home state. Considering the amount of resources that was poured into the 2015 general elections by the PDP, the end product has been nothing short of disastrous.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan:
He’s, without a doubt, the biggest loser here, yet the manner in which he quickly conceded defeat and saved the country another round of senseless bloodshed has made him victorious in defeat. His political miscalculations, faux pas, misguided appointments and perceived leniency towards corruption all conspired to make him the first incumbent Nigerian Head of State to lose a presidential election. That notwithstanding, His Excellency deserves our dispassionate commendation for overseeing one of the most peaceful and successful elections in Nigeria’s history, even in the face of intense pressure to manipulate the process.
Carlhz Chinedu is a sociopolitical commentator and a social justice activist.
He can be reached via [email protected]