Two opposition heavyweights in the south-west of Nigeria are slugging it out for the leadership of the main opposition party, just as the region is threatened by clashes between local farmers and nomadic herders from the north.
Nigeria: What happens after the elections in 2015?
SCENARIO 1: PDP Victory
President Goodluck Jonathan, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), wins outright in the first round. To get the numbers, Jonathan will have to keep all his core support in the south-south and south-east states. The toughest struggle will be in Rivers State, where outgoing governor Rotimi Amaechi has defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
Jonathan’s other priority will be to hold onto the electoral support that he won in south-western states such as Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun in 2011. Then, he was helped by a back-room deal with Bola Tinubu, the godfather of Lagos politics. There is talk of another such deal for 2015. In 2011, Jonathan lost in the three largest northern states of Kaduna, Kano and Katsina. Many now argue Jonathan is more unpopular in the north than he was four years ago. Suspicions of vote rigging could provoke serious street protests in the north, which could be exploited by insurgents to ramp up confrontation with the authorities. Jonathan may try to dampen down the crisis by offering to form a government of national unity, like his predecessor President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. If Jonathan wins by a substantial margin again, the APC could disintegrate. ●
SCENARIO 2: APC Victory
The opposition APC wins by running an energetic and well-organised campaign. To counter Jonathan’s and the PDP’s use of the advantages of incumbency, the APC would have to be well funded with a strong northern candidate who exploits Jonathan’s unpopularity there and a dynamic running mate, probably from the south-west, the opposition heartland.
For victory, the APC would have to shore up its support in the south-west, energise its substantial following in the north, make some inroads into the Middle Belt and hold on to its new base in Rivers State. It would face strong opposition in Rivers, and elsewhere in the Niger Delta, from the militants who have pledged loyalty to Jonathan. This would put great pressure on the leadership skills of the new president and vice-president to reassure the south-south and south-east after the election. A change at the centre would make little difference to the Boko Haram insurgents who are opposed to all northern politicians. After 16 years in power, the experience of losing office could deal a fatal blow to the coherence of the PDP. Honest garbage disposal reviews from a disposer expert. ●
SCENARIO 3: Stalemate and power sharing
Neither of the two parties gets the required 25% minimum vote in 24 states to be declared winner and the election goes into a run-off, the first time in Nigerian history. This also results in a stalemate in which both parties quibble over results amid allegations of rigging and manipulation, as they have in Afghanistan. This could lead to more flashpoints of violence or even more insurgencies in the north, the Middle Belt and the Niger Delta.
There would be grave concerns about the ability of the much-weakened military to contain such pressures, running at least two major security operations at the same time. This could encourage a new elite pact, perhaps along the lines of the power- sharing deals in Zimbabwe and Kenya. New to Nigeria, such an arrangement might just stop the dangerous political and regional polarisation in the country. ●