PDP Governors and Nigeria’s 2015 Elections

Nigeria will hold not its next national elections until 2015 but campaigning, or pre-campaigning, has in some sense already begun. Posters appeared in the capital Abuja on New Year’s Day promoting the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan. While I am not an expert in Nigerian constitutional law, my understanding is that Jonathan, since he served less than half of his late predecessor President Umaru Yar’Adua’s term, and is now serving a full term of his own, will be eligible to run in 2015 without running into the country’s two-term limit. And I think he will run, and I think he is likely to win.

But it will be important to see who challenges him, particularly for the nomination of his party, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Some northern PDP members felt that Jonatha’s decision to contest the 2011 elections violated a “zoning” agreement within the party, wherein the presidency, after the tenure of the southern President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999-2007, should have remained in northern hands from 2007-2015. But competition for the presidency has to do not simply with “north” versus “south” (Jonathan is a southerner), but also with the country’s six “geopolitical zones” and with a host of other factors, including factional splits within the party that don’t always boil down to geography, but rather to personal alliances or rivalries between major figures. The PDP, as a party, is currently undergoing struggles over key personnel such as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. These struggles have activated rivalries and zonal competitions.

I hope to attempt a more systematic analysis of intra-PDP affairs next week, but in the meantime here is one PDP governor who seems to be throwing his hat in the ring: Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State (North Central Zone):

The first strategy being adopted by the Niger Governor is to send the State Working Committee, SWC, of the PDP on a tour of other state chapters of the party “on a thank you tour over the election of Umaru Chiza as National Youth Leader of the PDP.”
Mr. Chiza was elected almost a year ago in March 2011 at the same time as other PDP leaders like Messrs Tukur and Oyinlola ridiculing any claim of a thank you visit on his behalf.
The delegation, which commenced the tour from the North Central states, was at the PDP secretariat in Jos, the Plateau State capital, on Monday, and was led by the Niger State Chairman of the Party, Mahmud Abdulrahman.
Mr. Abdulrahman in his short remarks said the aim of their visit was to create a lasting relationship among states within the North Central zone with a view to getting their support to “contesting key positions come 2015 general elections”.
However, in a chat with newsmen after the event, Mr. Abdulrahman denied that Mr. Aliyu is nursing the ambition to contest the presidential race.

We’ll see who else hints at a run.

2 thoughts on “PDP Governors and Nigeria’s 2015 Elections

  1. I think this is basically right. The intra-PDP dynamics are much more likely to influence the outcome of the national elections than anything that happens within the CPC or any other opposition party (and I say this having met a number of bright and talented CPC organizers). I’ve backed off my belief that 2015 will break the PDP (I think, despite the in-fighting, most PDP leaders recognize they have more to lose by splitting the party than they have to gain. Too many other prominent Northern leaders are outside the PDP to make the PDP-North a plausible national contender on its own), but I also expect Jonathan’s victory to trigger some serious conflict. I look forward to your analysis next week!

  2. What a lot of analysts seem to be missing is this simple fact; nobody wants a powerful Northern elite, except the Northern elite itself.

    The key to understanding the present dynamics in Nigeria are the Babangida and Abacha years. These are the lessons the different geo-political zones took from that period in history:

    1. A powerful Northern elite annulled Abiola’s election in 1993. It is doubtful whether the South-West (Yorubas) will be entirely comfortable with a very powerful Northern elite in future.

    2. The Niger Delta will never be comfortable with a powerful Northern elite – especially with the bitter lessons of Abacha’s repression in the 90’s.

    3. The Middle Belt is not comfortable with a powerful North – at least the Christian communities there.

    4. The Northern masses are now up in arms against the Northern elite – that is what is behind Buhari’s surge in popularity.

    The Northern elite has lost a significant amount of its power and influence and many people will support Jonathan if only to further erode their power (Babangida will be 78 by 2019).

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