The signs of a brewing political war are very ominous to all discerning observers as we gradually approach the 2015 General Elections. From shifts in political alliances, convocation of fresh ones, to the outright breakup of pre-existing ones, Nigeria’s political amphitheater is once more poised to stage another round of gladiatorial duels; series of contests that promises lots of exhilarating fireworks from start to finish; fierce turf wars that promises no dull moments for spectators of a seasonal national drama that has become traditional rituals in these parts; extreme survival contests in every sense of the word.
Indeed, 2015 promises to be another very busy year in the country’s political calendar as Nigerians will, once more, be enamoured with the onerous tasks of chosen those individuals they feel are the most qualified – from a large pool of candidates – to navigate their ship of state for another four years. Unlike previous election years, that of 2015 promises to be as intriguing and nerve-racking, as well as dramatic and transformative. As succinctly captured by Hon Josef Omorontiomwan in his very incisive countdown to 2015 titled “As We Approach The 2015 War” (See Nigerian Observer, 6 February, 2014; Vanguard Newspaper, February 6, 2014), the forthcoming general polls are “declared hostilities that are already raging many years before the declared dates and the casualties are not necessarily concentrated in the battle fields” (emphasis added); all-out zero-sum exchanges among the forces driving the Leviathan.
What is most outstanding about the upcoming polls is that for the first time since the return of civil rule to Nigeria in 1999, sequel to several years of Jackboot rule, the hegemony of the ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is being seriously challenged by a compound alliance of opposition parties – the culmination of a merging of perspectives by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) – under the canopy of the All Progressive Congress (APC); a development that is bound to define the outcome of the forthcoming polls.
Talking of outcomes, a couple of likely scenarios should be expected when D-Day comes. Should the APC successfully topple the ruling PDP to become the new party on the bloc at the center, after the conclusion of polling, it will be the greatest civilian coup in the country’s checkered political history, considering the fact that no incumbent party at the center has ever lost a general election to the opposition. Such a massive change will represent a new dawn in the country’s politics; a gigantic departure from the traditional order of the past; an evolutionary leap that will be akin to a revolution in the country’s political arrangement; a big bang that will reconfigure the usual state of politics in Nigeria – a development that will be seen as a welcome and long overdue paradigm shift in many quarters.
However, should the PDP remain in power at the center at the end of polling, it will represent a continuation of the status quo ante; a maintenance of the arrangement as traditionally constituted. But regardless of the outcome of the 2015 polls, Nigeria’s march towards the full consolidation of its democracy will be further boosted and strengthened by the intense politicking that will take place during this election year. Nigeria’s political system stands to reap bountiful dividends from the intense competition among the multifaceted forces struggling for the larger chunks of power at the various levels (Federal, State and Local) and arms (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) of government; a sure catalyst for the growth of democracy in Africa’s most populous country.
The PDP, after the 2015 polls – even if it emerges victorious – will emerge weaker, as its power base would have been seriously eroded by the opposition – especially the APC -which has already made deep inroads into its top hierarchy and core areas of control across the country. The massive defection of some of the PDP’s henchmen – both political office holders and even some former members of its Board of Trustees – to the APC in recent times, is a direct pointer to the serious depletion of its forces; a development that will definitely define the dynamics and dimensions of the country’s politics in the post-2015 years. The PDP will likely lose some of the key states it currently controls, along with a large chunk of the legislative seats in some federal constituencies, to the opposition; a development that will whittle down the omnipotent power it currently exercises in the country’s politics. Its margin of victory – were it to win majority of the votes – will not be as overwhelming as has been the case in previous polls. Come what may, what is certain is that the opposition is set to push the PDP all the way come 2015.
On the other hand, the APC – whether it wins majority of the votes or not -is sure to metamorphose into the most formidable opposition party Nigeria has ever seen, after the 2015 polls. If the alliance continues to hold as currently constituted, the APC is expected to bring about a new order of opposition politics in Nigeria, as it is the only party in the country that has the muscle to stand toe to toe with the incumbent party; the only party that seems able to offer Nigerians an alternative platform to that of the PDP. With the number of positions it is expected to capture at the polls, coupled with the very impressive displays of its governors in some states, the APC has won itself a mighty army of converts across the country; an advantage which, if leveraged upon, will see it increasing its areas of influence across the country in the coming years.
However, the PDP should not be expected to go down without putting up a fight. Like an injured beast, the PDP is bound to fight to the death. In its bid to maintain its traditional hegemony at the center, it will deploy all the resources – human and material – at its disposal to attempt to swing majority of the votes in its favour. Knowing the history of party politics in this country, since independence, and the traditional sit tight demeanour of the ruling political elites – whose proclivity for playing politics with large doses of bitterness is well documented -the PDP will not just capitulate without playing its own jokers. It is just not in the character of ruling parties in Nigeria to act thus. The party will be expected to employ its most effective stratagems in a bid to use the upcoming polls as an opportunity to further stamp its authority as the undisputed ruling party in Nigeria; an opportunity to make a bold statement to the opposition that it has not lost its wits.
As preparations towards election year heats up, the eggheads of the country’s political parties have not hidden their determination to emerge victorious. While the opposition has been unrelenting in its determination to wrest power from the ruling PDP, the PDP, on its part, doesn’t appear perturbed by the obvious threat posed to its dominion. Both parties, in anticipation of the coming war, are already at daggers drawn, waiting for the “fight” signal to be given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to engage one another in one of the potentially most heralded electoral battles yet to be witnessed within these shores; a Titanic clash of the country’s political Super-Heavyweights for the ownership and control of the resources and minds of the Nigerian State and its people; a no-holds-barred struggle for power that has elicited lots of apprehension and suspense across the country and beyond.
In all, whichever way the pendulum swings, the battle of 2015 is expected to be as intense as the rivalries between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriati, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, and the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force; an intense and passionate battle for
the very soul of the Nigerian State; a duel, the outcome, which is bound to define the future of the Nigerian State and its people for another four years.