hose who argue that 2015 is still far away and should therefore not dominate public discourse seems to be losing out, at least in Bauchi State, as the electorate are already stating their expectations while politicians are embarking on game plans that could offer some insight into how politics in northern Nigeria might pan out
Among the cross section of Nigerians in the State that bore their mind on expectations from the respective parties in the forth-coming 2015 general elections, many are sceptical about political campaigns and the attendant promises, because they are hardly fulfilled. Otherwise, according to them, the politicians should know that all they need to do is to fulfill the aspirations and wishes of the masses. The flip side of their argument is that politicians who do this need not try to buy votes or engage in other forms of manipulation to get into office.
For David Ayodele a staff of the Bauchi Radio Corporation, for example, party campaigns over the years are just political gimmicks to lure the people’s mandate. “If you observed what happened during the 2011 general elections, there were massive campaigns by all the contending parties involved in the election. We are now approaching 2015 and they have not fulfilled their promises. For instance in the area of employment, they failed because the jobs are still reserved for children of the rich. So how can one be encouraged to vote a party or government who only wants to use you to achieve its mission?” he says.
Yusuf Danladi, a civil servant, concurs with Ayodele and indeed says he has lost confidence in the voting structure of political parties because they are rigged and manipulated to favour the dominant and ruling party. His words: “for me, I see voting as fulfilling all righteousness because they are usually rigged and manipulated to favour the dominant party. Even if you vote the party of your choice, the results are rigged, so how can you have confidence in the electoral system of the country”.
However, despite whatever misgiving the citizens may have about the political parties, the decision to elect still lies with the citizens, argues Cyprian Ogbe, a public affairs commentator: “Though we may be witnessing internal power tussles within the parties at the moment, the fact is still that come 2015 when we shall vote, it shall be for any of the candidates emerging from these parties, so my advice for Nigerians it that we should all watch carefully and follow the issues keenly so that when the time to vote comes, our decision shall be drawn from an informed knowledge of both what the politic parties are offering as manifestos and who they are offering as candidates”.
The likes of Ogbe will however be disappointed to know that the primary issues in most of the big parties now is about who gains the upper hand and has control of the party structure. The question of manifestoes does seem secondary.
In this internal power game, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stand out of now, but none of the big parties including the much touted opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) will be immune from it as 2015 draws near. As an observer comments, it is all in the nature of Nigerian politics.
Perhaps it is because their turn has not come, that opponents of the PDP are claiming that the emergence of a faction under the name new PDP comprising seven aggrieved Governors, led by now suspended Abubajar Kawu Baraje is the greatest undoing of the party.
The APC in particular has been up and doing and quite vocal about turning the PDP’s spoils of war into political advantage. Yet, in the quick sand of Nigerian politics, no one can predict where the pendulum will swing.
What is clear now is that the battle line remains drawn between the Bamanga Tukur led leadership of the mainstream PDP and the seven Governors of the new PDP while a disputed court order reinstating Olagunsoye Oyinloa, an ally of the new PDP as the authentic Secretary of the mainstream PDP has further stoked the flames.
What is also clear is that the President Goodluck Jonathan factor looms large over the crisis. Thus, while the splinter group and the opposition parties are said to be strategizing and doing everything possible to ensure that the presidential ambition of the President does not see the light of the day, the President himself is also not taking things casually. Bauchi State is proving a test-ground in this regard being a key gateway to the North.
In this regard, some sources hint that President Jonathan has already began subtle moves to pave his way towards winning the presidential election, come 2015 by strategizing to win the hearts of the people in the north. Just like what played out during the 2011 elections, he is not oblivious of the fact that his headache will be some states in the northern part of the country even as the opposition is putting all machinery in place to capture these states in the region.
Vice-president, Architect Namadi Sambo’s recent three-day working visit to Bauchi State to commissions some state and federal projects is now being given more political interpretation as he was said to have sought to reconcile erstwhile feuding party leaders.
However, not to be outdone, the opposition is mapping out ways to capture the state hence the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) also organized a three-day North-East stakeholders zonal retreat to harmonize the interim structure of the party in the state, local government and wards as well as to appraise the party members on the importance of online and manual registration in the 8,823 wards in the country so that it can produce credible candidates that will represent the party in the 2015 election.
In Bauchi, the 2015 political game is certainly; visible even to the blindfolded, while the yearnings of the people for dividends of democracy in terms of human and social development can also be heard even by the blocked ear.