Category Archives: Politics

Thoughts on politics and allied matters.

His Name is Omran Daqneesh.

Even though he was surrounded by the bright orange colour, it was a heart-wrenching sight. He should never have been in the vehicle. He didn’t utter a word, not even a whimper. He looked on, dazed. Those eyes tell a story of despair, of helplessness, of hopelessness, of trauma, of war.  When he looked down, like one shy, I lost it- tears streamed down my face. Legs outstretched, in the midst of the chaos around him, he touched his dusty bloodied face. No, it wasn’t because of an accident in school or during a visit to the mall. Minutes earlier, his home had come under a military airstrike.

What did he do to deserve this?

His name is Omran Daqneesh, a 5 year old boy in Aleppo, Syria. While his mates in other parts of the world wake up to the caring touch and sonorous voice of their parents, urging them to prepare for school, Omran wakes up to the horror of blood, rubbles, gunfire, ear-piercing noise, death. While his mates openly play on the park and complain about the taste of the berry, Omran plays in the midst of rubbles, with the sound of gunfire in the background. His innocence, blemished. No, he did not choose this life. He just found himself thrust into it.
But Omran is lucky. There are several thousands of children, his age or even lower, whose lives have been tragically cut short in the Syrian War. Sadly, Omran won’t be the last victim of this war. His 10 year old elder brother died from injuries sustained in the airstrike. Watching Omran sitting helpless in the ambulance, I genuinely wished I could hug and assure him everything would be alright.
Lonely and war-weary in the back of an ambulance, Omran stares helplessly at the world and the world stares back, leaving him at the mercy of the next airstrike.
See the video of his rescue here

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2015 Elections: Conspiracy or Change?

Less than 3 days to the handover date and long after the inks have dried on the ballot papers, the election result is still generating ripples in the polity. The result was really a first in the country- a civilian handover between different political parties. Some supporters of PDP, the losing party, have opined that Muhammadu Buhari’s victory was a conspiracy against the South. More importantly, one against the minority, South-South. The election was seen as a contest between the North and the South. According to them, a contest between the ‘Born-To-Rule‘ & the ‘Neglected‘.

In reality though, the contest was the closest in recent history. Both contestants had almost equal chances. The incumbent president and a former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari were the major candidates during the election. The campaigns were massive and well-planned. Even though, Muhammadu Buhari had contested in the three previous elections, his chances this time around were attractive.

Permutations before the election had placed the two main candidates on a scale that measured the strength of their support. Nigeria is divided into 6 geopolitical zones- North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-East, South-South & South-West .

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The pre-election permutations have predicted Goodluck Jonathan to win in the South-South and South-East while Buhari’s major support came from the North-West and North-East. Jonathan hails from the South-South while Buhari hails from the North-West. Thus, the battle for votes was predicted to be in the North-Central and South-West. However, the South-West was slightly inclined towards the APC, Buhari’s party. This is because out of the 6 states that make up the region, the party controls 4 states. It is because of this that I am amused when some people say the South-West was a tool used by the North to ‘usurp’ power from Jonathan. The region has mostly been in the opposition and now that the opportunity to be at the centre presented itself, they threw their weight behind the party.
Now, I’ll attempt to analyse the voting patterns of different regions while comparing it with the 2011 elections where the PDP won with a landslide. The analysis of how the geopolitical zones voted for Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammad Buhari will allow us understand the mindset of those regions. Was it a conspiracy against Jonathan or not?

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From the table, it can be seen that, expectedly, both candidates won convincingly in their regions of strength.

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Back to the question of conspiracy against Jonathan, it is seen that Buhari did not get up to 90% of votes from regions he controlled, while Jonathan got a minimum 90.6% from the 2 regions he controlled. Moreover, the total percentage of votes Buhari got in the South-South and South-East is less than the percentage of votes Jonathan got in the North-West alone. So is it really a conspiracy? When the issue if conspiracy comes up, I ask if it’s expected that Jonathan wins in the North-West? Even at Jonathan’s peak of goodwill in 2011, he didn’t win any state in that region. In the North-East, however, he won 2 states (Adamawa and Taraba). Even in 2015, he won in Taraba, a state in the North-East. So Taraba has always been on lockdown for Jonathan.

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2011 Presidential Election Result

On the other hand, in 2011, Buhari lost all the states in the South. In 2015 too, he lost all the states in South-South and South-East states. In fact, he had less than 10% in all the South East states, except for Imo state where he got 19% and less than 10% in all South-South states except for Edo where he got 41.7%. So, who conspired against who? The percentage of people that voted for Jonathan in the North-East (21.69%) eclipses the percentage of those that voted for Buhari in the South-East (7.29%) by 3. And we all know that percentage isn’t determined by the number of votes, right? Yet, these folks believe that the Northerners erred by voting for their man while it’s completely alright for the South-South to do same. I’m not supporting ethnic-coloured choice for national leadership but ‘he who must come with equity must come with clean hands’.

Those folks also accuse the South-West of betrayal by voting against a Southern man. My response to them is that the birthplace of APC is in the South-West. It’s also its stronghold. In fact, some people still believe APC to be a Yoruba party. This shows the extent to which the South-West have influences in the party. So, should it come as a surprise that the region voted along that line? Moreso, Jonathan won all the southwestern states in 2011, save for Osun states. Where were these conspiracy theorists then?

The conspiracy theorists also conveniently overlooked the campaign strategies employed by both parties. While PDP went on a mudslinging spree, it afforded Nigerians the opportunity to know more about the man PDP, the ruling party exerted so much energy to vilify. They also conveniently overlooked the issues on ground- economy, security, corruption, unemployment et al. It was on these basis that APC based their campaigns on. The implosion of PDP also contributed to their loss at the polls. The massive exit of chieftains took a heavy toll on them. I believe the allegation of conspiracy is an insult to millions of Nigerians who went out to vote without coercion. It’s an insult on their choices and decisions. Or how else does one explain the triumph of Buhari in Kogi and Benue states, states currently with PDP leadership and traditionally had always gone with PDP?

So, when next someone alleges conspiracy as a run reason for Jonathan’s loss, I’ll just giggle and walk away.

Hakeem.

2015 Elections: The Days After.

So, my country has concluded its much anticipated elections- hopefully, there’ll be no rerun. Now, our lives will be restored to default settings. The past few months have seen our radios & TVs taken over by campaign jingles & political talks, the social media was on lockdown for campaign (the effectiveness of the social media in determining the electoral activities should be studied)- hashtags were a normal feature on Twitter. In fact, discussions followed the route of politics. Every action of the government was seen through the prism of currying favour from the electorates. Our national life was conditioned in a particular way.
The campaign period highlighted some factors that were absent in previous electoral campaigns. Even before the elections, the use of card readers and PVCs by the electoral umpire (which was a first actually) had caused the heating up of the polity. Concerns were raised on the feasibility and reliability of its use. Also, the campaigns for this election made optimal use of the social media. With the youth comprising the highest number of voters and many of them on the social media, it was commonsense that discourse on these platforms would be political. Twitter was the hardest hit. Hashtags sought to outdo one another. The election really showed the true colours of some. Some turned erstwhile friends to foes and some bridges were burnt. Also, a factor that contributed to the loss of GEJ at the polls stems from the acts of those whose duty it was to make friends for him making enemies instead *side eye to Omokri, Okupe & FFK*.

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Swaggu!

Like I discussed here, the campaigns were about mudslinging than issues. A casualty of this campaign was debate. In a society like ours where electoral choices are coloured by emotions, debates could only be of little significance. Interestingly, the candidates who dodge debates have always gone ahead to win the election -2003, 2007, 2011 & 2015. The elections also tested how unified we are as a nation. Many people saw the election as one between the South and North. Some saw it as an election between Christians and Muslims. The First Lady didn’t help matters as she disparaged the Northern part of the country. The Vice President, Namadi Sambo also referred to APC as a christian-dominated-party. The voting patterns also reflected this. Except that of the South West. There are positives though (even from the voting patterns). A christian candidate won in Niger state, a state dominated by Muslims. Also, an Igbo man won a seat in the House of Representatives in Lagos, a Yoruba land. The gubernatorial election in Lagos also caused some ripples.

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The utterances by the Oba to drown non-indigenes who do not vote for his candidate and the obvious ethnic-based campaign undertaken by the PDP are the major highlights.
Now that the campaign grounds are empty and ballot boxes returned to the stores, the incoming administration has to hit the ground running. There’s plenty of work to be done. The expectations are high; thus, there’s no room for disappointment. This election is a special one in the sense that it’s the first time since our return to civil rule that the incumbent would be defeated at the federal level. APC, a conglomerate of opposition parties, now has the majority seats in the legislature, controls the executive arm and controls the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. Now, this is a kinda holistic approach to governance. The new government need to arrange a team of world-beaters with a sense of duty and patriotism. That’s the first step to a working Nigeria. With a new party at the helm, Nigerians hope to see a different approach to issues. All the campaign promises and party manifesto need to be lived up to. We really need some catching up to do. In the 21st century, there’s no excuse for a developing nation to still be grappling with electricity generation and distribution.

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Expectations hitting the ceiling.

The issue of electricity is one that cuts across all political, tribal and economic divides. Tackle this and many things will fall in place. It’s like a domino. One issue that contributed to PDP’s loss at the polls is the handling of the nation’s security vis-à-vis insurgency. One of the main goals of government is provision of security. Failure in this will consume the successes recorded in other sectors. People need to feel safe. In fact, it’s second on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Thus, the incoming government should know its importance.
The economy, the other half of the goals of government needs a serious attention. The outgoing government prided on Nigeria being the biggest economy on the continent. The irony is that many citizens disagree with that. The claim is seen as a paper tiger achievement. Only a few benefit from the economy. Thus, the new government has to formulate policies that affect the majority positively.

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Many people believe that the welfarist inclination of Buhari will ensure this. Well, there’s only one way to find out.
Conclusively, the major beneficiary of this election results is the Nigerian people. Many now have a renewed confidence in the power of the ballot. They believe they now have a say in who leads them. Whether change or continuity, elected officials now know they have to earn their position. Though there is still plenty room for improvement, the umpire, INEC, under Prof Attahiru Jega deserve some praise. Except for some skirmishes in some states, the election was adjudged free and credible. If the new government also messes up, the proverbial cane used on the iyale is lying patiently in the ceiling.

Photo credits: TwitterNG

Hakeem.

The Genius, Tinubu

So this morning, the Financial Times ran a headline hailing Tinubu as being the brain behind Jonathan’s loss at the polls. They called him the Nigerian Machiavelli. Also, when General Buhari collected his Certificate of Return from INEC affirming his victory, he mentioned Tinubu during his acknowledgement. So, who is this man? A man the opposition (how tables turn!) fears as much as they do Buhari.

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He has been hailed as a master strategist. A man whose street cred is on fleek. Not many politician can boast o such- probably his protégé, Aregbesola. This man changed the face of opposition politics in Nigeria. But how did he do it? His emergence as the face of opposition proves that quality thumps quantity.

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Jagaban Borgu!

Regional politics still plays a huge role in Nigeria’s political affairs. After the 1999 elections, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) controlled the South Western region of the country the All Peoples Party (APP) controlled the Northern region while PDP controlled the federal. During the 2003 elections, AD fell for Obasanjo’s schemes and lost all their states except Lagos controlled by Tinubu. This marked the incursion of PDP into the southwest and subsequent demise of AD. This placed Tinubu and Obasanjo on a collision course. With just one state under his control, Tinubu forged on. In the heat of this, the President suspended the monthly allocation to the state- a move capable of wrecking the state. But that only served as a catalyst for building a self-sustaining Lagos. If Tinubu had fallen for Obasanjo’s antics, there might have been no credible opposition in Nigeria.

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The state’s IGR went from hundreds million naira to tens of billions of naira. Tinubu held onto Lagos as if his life depended on it- and indeed his political life does. With the demise of AD, the Jagaban formed the Action Congress. It was on this platform that his erstwhile Chief of Staff, Babatunde Fashola, a relatively unknown man won the governorship election. The ascension of ‘Tunde Fashola to the Government House really was a masterstroke. He was hiterto unknown in the political scene but he performed to the extent that he was adjudged to be the best governor in the country and he became a reference point for performance.
During the 2011 elections, the party leveraged on Fashola’s popularity and clawed back the South Western states from the PDP, save for Ondo state. In all these, Tinubu’s handwriting was written on the party’s victory at the polls. Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states became ACN states. With this, the ACN was positioned as the major opposition party in he country. Though the party presented a candidate for the presidential election, it was so obvious that he was going to lose. The priority wasn’t the control of Abuja but taking over states in the region first. That would then serve as a launchpad for ‘assaulting’ the presidency.
Insatiable as ever, the next action is to drop the tag of ‘opposition leader’ & gun for the top. This isn’t going to be an easy task. The ruling party, PDP had been in power since the country’s return to civil rule and thus, has solid and widespread party structures. Heck! They paraded themselves as the biggest party on the continent. To defeat this giant, coalitions has to be formed. There has to be a united front to confront the ruling party. Hence, the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC). A coalition of 3 parties- ACN, CPC and a faction of APGA. CPC was a party formed by General Muhammadu Buhari to advance his presidential ambition. Thus, there wasn’t any solid structure. The party was run basically on Buhari’s goodwill and popularity. The faction of APGA that joined the coalition was the one controlled by the Imo state governor. So, the main party in the coalition was still the ACN, under Tinubu’s tutelage. In fact, ACN’s party symbol was adopted as the new party’s symbol. The party presented Gen Buhari as its presidential candidate. Even though, he had contested and lost 3 times, General Buhari was still the party’s best shot at the presidency. He was a cult figure. Even during his loss in previous elections, there were some states he had under control. States that mattered in elections as they had huge population- Kano, Kaduna and Katsina. I daresay no politician in Nigeria has the appeal of Buhari. With Buhari as a front for the party and Tinubu pulling the strings in the background, the party launched a robust and intimidating campaign. Social media was on lock down, the street was active, the jingles on the radio and television were creative and running. Buhari was packaged as a brand- a movement. The campaign presented Buhari in a way he hadn’t been presented before. The party also capitalised on the ruling party’s misgivings. Even though, the people’s votes determined the ultimate winner, Bola Tinubu provided the platform. And then, on the last day of March, 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari was declared the winner.
One fact I find funny is that Tinubu doesn’t hold a defined role in the party. He’s referred to as the national leader or party chieftain, yet his influence dwarfs that of the party chairman. The Lion of Bourdillon, as he’s called, finally became the face of the governing party after more than a decade of being that of the opposition. I don’t think there’s anyone that understands Nigeria’s political workings like him. It’s even believed that he was behind the emergence of a relatively unknown Prof Yemi Osinbajo as the party’s vice presidential candidate. His emergence was really a well planned move as it swayed some undecided voters. Osinbajo was a commissioner during Tinubu’s time the governor. Tinubu is reputed give people opportunities. Fashola, Aregbesola, Osinbajo et al are people that had their first political bite under his tutelage. Loathe him or love him, even his greatest foe can’t deny his political mastery. With just one state under his control, he assiduously won back some states in the region before gunning for and winning the presidency. Even with that one state, he was really a thorn in the Federal Government’s flesh.

Meanwhile, this is my best pic from the celebratory pictures of Buhari’s victory. Her happiness is infections.

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Hakeem.