By Dele Momodu
Now the bells are tolling – a year is dead. And my heart is slowly beating the Nunc Dimittis to all my hopes and mute yearnings of a new year. And ghosts hover round dream beyond dream Dream beyond dream mingling with the brightest gleam. Bell-sounds fading into memories like rain drops falling into a river. And now the bells are chiming – a year is born. And my heart-bell is ringing in a dawn. But it’s shrouded things I see dimly stride on heart-canopied paths to a riverside. – Gabriel Okara
Fellow Nigerians, please, permit me to welcome you into the New Year with that exceptionally beautiful Poem by Gabriel Imomtimi Gbaingbain Okara. The words of that legendary writer encapsulates my message on this page today. The beginning of a New Year is usually a period of renewed hope for mankind. It is a time when we all bury our unfulfilled dreams and give birth to new fantasies. I really don’t know what has happened to the old tradition of men of God, especially Pastors, publishing their prophesies and predictions at the beginning of the year. It used to be a hot potato in those good old days and newspapers used to fall over themselves to get copies from famous prophets and then run them almost verbatim most times. Man is a naturally curious animal.
In Africa, most of us practise syncretism, a combination of religions, because we are never too sure about which way would ultimately lead to heaven. This is why the oracle men (Diviners), marabouts and others are still very popular and generously patronised till this so-called modern day. Many of us would want to see our future, if it is truly possible. I shall attempt to undertake such a task here and now. The year 2015 is too crucial to our dear country Nigeria. All manner of permutations are going on right now wherever two or more Nigerians are gathered and it all centres on what would happen before, during and after the elections coming up in February. The situation is already getting tense to the extent that many rich folks are relocating their families abroad or seeking new homes or hideouts far from the madding crowd that they think Nigeria is. It is such a shame that Democracy has become a theatre of war in our clime when elsewhere it is meant to be a pleasurable game of who controls the numbers. The question on everyone’s heart and lip is what happens if President Goodluck Jonathan fails in his second term bid and General Muhammadu Buhari wins! Will the ruling party, PDP, which has entrenched itself in power give up the fight, arms akimbo, and walk away so quietly and miserably into insignificance and irrelevance? Will the core supporters of President Jonathan, made up of militants and possible soldiers of fortune allow power to slip from their hands, just like that, without putting up some riotous protest in defiance and to delay the inevitable.
Those who are beating the war drums in anticipation and rehearsing their war strategies ahead of time may wish to test their true might when that time comes. The second question is what happens if General Buhari fails and President Jonathan wins fair and square, or by hook and crook, and Buhari’s supporters cry foul, especially if the rigging or whatever it is called becomes too obvious and a free-for-all fight breaks out! No matter how the results go, one way or the other, will the loser agree to concede defeat? The general impression is that head or tail, a serious, possibly ‘roforofo’ fight (apologies to Fela) will ensue after this election. I beg to disagree. My prediction is very simple and straight forward. The 2015 Presidential election is not going to be too close to call as many people expect. Whoever wins will do so decisively. A wind of change is blowing across the land at the speed of light. It is like a hurricane majestically sweeping across the nation carrying everybody along in its wake. If it persists, General Muhammadu Buhari will win resoundingly. The victory will be so blistering that the PDP won’t know or even see what has hit it as if in a lightning strike.
If President Jonathan is able to bounce back from the current blitzkrieg, then it means the wind of change would have been fatally downgraded to the extent that something major would have gone wrong with the APC candidates and/or their campaign. But I don’t see this happening. I’m willing and ready to place a bet that the PDP has reached its final bus stop, for now, after reigning unchallenged for 16 years. This is to be expected. Even the best of democracies abroad, political parties often suffer from natural law of diminishing returns after staying in power for so long. This kind of fatigue has already set in for PDP and a President Jonathan would be the natural collateral damage in the process. Many factors will determine this almighty election. I will break them down once again. I will start with two interesting analogies. The first is original to me while the other comes from a discussion I had yesterday with a very famous Itsekiri man over breakfast. Let’s begin with mine. The belief of most people I know is that neither APC nor PDP is perfect. They are readily dismissed as two sides of the same coin.
Let’s stretch it further. Buhari and Jonathan both have their k-legs. But the former seems to have managed his own in such a way that people have come to terms with whatever is regarded as shortcomings while they have given up on any redeeming grace for Jonathan’s apparent weaknesses. In fact, Buhari in comparison to Jonathan is like having to choose between ulcer and cancer. Both ailments will definitely cause pain and discomfiture but the difference is still crystal clear. My Itsekiri brother stretched my thoughts further. He said he had asked his wife a question recently while discussing Buhari and Jonathan: “Darling, who among the two would you want to leave our kids with if we decide to travel for one week…?” The stunned wife took a deep breath before answering: “If I’ve no other person to leave them with than those two, I think I will pick Buhari. I know he might not allow them to eat too much and he may even ban them from watching their Disney channels but at least the kids will be safe and we’ll meet them at home when we come back.” C’est finis! That is the sad reality today.
Many Nigerians don’t think the President has any new solutions to our economic woes, general insecurity, epileptic power, archaic infrastructure, reckless profligacy, epidemic corruption, ethnic conflagration and religious bigotry. What the President’s men are promoting ceaselessly as achievements are signs of backwardness for a nation as big, ambitious and prosperous as Nigeria, the proverbial giant of African. Most of them are nothing but relics and antiquities and we deserve much better if we must compete on the world stage. Nigerians are down and out and the options are too little and too few. They believe they have to try whatever else is available even if there is no guaranty of how things may turn out again. Except for those profiting from the present status quo, and may be telling the present government lies about the situation out there, the cry everywhere is change. The scenario I foresee is that Buhari will clear a large percentage of the Muslim votes, while the Christian votes would be split but with the majority still following the Buhari/Osinbajo team. The choice of Prof Yemi Osinbajo, a respected Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) as running mate to Buhari has refined my former thoughts in this respect.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Jonathan had previously succeeded in playing this religious card by his constant forays in the sanctuaries of various churches, Pentecostal and otherwise, but with Osinbajo being brought into the equation most of this advantage has vanished and the pendulum of the Christian votes has swung the way of the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket. Buhari will make a serious incursion into the President’s traditional territories while the President would find Buhari’s terrain almost impenetrable.
Indeed people are now saying that Jonathan no longer has the monopoly of Christianity. On the regional front, Buhari will score more votes than Jonathan in the entire North West and North East and Jonathan may struggle to record twenty-five percent in even a couple of them. The North Central will be a battle ground but Buhari will still have a slight edge. The South West will vote massively for Buhari this time even including Ondo and Ekiti states but Jonathan will record up to 25 percent in most of them. The South South will shock Mr President as Buhari will record minimum of 25 percent or more in Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta States and win more than 50 percent in Rivers and Edo States because of the Amaechi and Oshiomhole factors. Bayelsa is the only totally safe ground for President Jonathan. Even then one is not certain because of the schism within the PDP in that State. In the South East, Buhari may shock pundits by recording up to 50 percent in IMO state, about 25 percent in Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States. Those who think the President will lock down the entire South South and South East are in for a rude shock and reawakening. In essence, APC will not only win in majority of the States it will win big because it controls most of the biggest states with massive votes in Nigeria. Most of the PDP states are seriously going through one crisis or the other at this moment less than 45 days to the elections. On the contrary, APC has been able to manage its own internal crisis better without much ado. Where there have recently been cracks, those gaping holes have been practically healed except Ogun State where I still expect my godfather former Governor Segun Osoba, to return to the fold having invested so much energy and resources in the past.
If what the President’s people are banking on is their campaign of calumny against the General, it won’t fly this time around because Nigerians have virtually acclimatised to the bad weather that a Buhari Presidency may bring while they find the PDP heat too hot and scorching to bear again after 16 years of misadventure. The election will not be as controversial as most people expect as the winner will be decided loud and clear. Of course, there will be skirmishes here and there but it won’t be anything the security forces won’t be able to handle, contain and crush if necessary. Many of those threatening brimstone and fireballs will be the first to flee in their private jets and speedboats now that they’ve made too much money from a fluid system. I can see a star studded cabinet after May 29 formed of the crème de la crème of politicians, technocrats and professionals, all committed to serving their motherland.
Every effort would be made to form a government of national unity comprising of both party and non-party members and Nigerians with proven talents from across the world will be invited to join and participate in this wind of change. The new government will work harder on giving a sense of belonging to all without alienating anyone. The current regime of those who fan the embers of ethnic and religious divisions for personal gain will be reversed and consigned to the dustbin of history. This shall come to pass. God bless Nigeria.
Published originally on THE PENDULUM, Backpage of Thisday Newspapers