By Chukwuemerie Uduchukwu
Saturday 28th March 2015 remains a great day in the history of Nigeria. Nigerians on that day trooped out en masse to elect a new leadership for the country. Members of the incoming national assembly were also elected same day.
March 28 presidential election will ever remain historic because that was the first time that an incumbent president was voted out of office in an election that was described as widely free and fair by both local and international observers, as well as the international community. Another interesting part of the election was that the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan who sought reelection conceded defeat and congratulated his main challenger, Muhammadu Buhari even before the final result was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC announced Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the presidential poll. Buhari won majority of the votes cast and a minimum of 25% of votes from over 24 states of the federation and Abuja, as required by the law. However, the retired General failed woefully in the five states of the South-East geopolitical zone of the country, comprising Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States. President Jonathan won massively in the South-East, with his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) securing overwhelming victory in all the national assembly seats of the region.
Prior to the elections, majority of the Igbo supported the candidacy of president Jonathan despite the fact that his administration has not done anything significant in the South-East and his 2011 electoral promises to the Igbos remain unattended to. In 2011, president Jonathan promised to construct the 2nd Niger Bridge, revitalise Nkalagu Cement factory, construct the Onitsha inland waterways, as well as rehabilitate the federal roads in the region. It is sad, however, that in 2015 none of those promises has been fulfilled.
Also, the Igbo, through much of the tenure of this administration, failed to accept the fact that the government has been widely seen as a failure, forcing other geopolitical zones to call for change. The ethnic and religious orientation of many Igbo denied them the ability to predict the failure of their ‘adopted’ candidate at the poll. This was unlike the North and South-West geopolitical zones that understood on time that the masses were not ready to re-elect a failed government and therefore supported the APC massively, the Igbo allowed sentiments to swallow their wisdom.
The Igbo supported the president with no reasonable fact. Many maintained that the Ijaw man is their brother and a Christian, and this led to a religious and ethnicity based campaign for the president in the South-East, which is mainly occupied by Christians. Many church and religious leaders in the region deceived their members into believing that the president’s main rival, Muhammadu Buhari and his party, APC, are religious extremists and that they would Islamise the country if voted into power. Some of them also deceived their members into believing that the APC is a party of insurgents. Some even shamelessly made it as prayer points in their Sunday services that a Muslim would never rule Nigeria, and many false prophesies trended as some proclaimed to their members that they were directed by God to announce the victory of Jonathan in the election. These misled the ignorant and innocent members to support the president, as they believed that those greedy church leaders are God’s representatives without knowing that those greedy men championing unnecessary political campaigns in the church had been influenced by politicians and were acting the scripts written by those greedy politicians. What a shame and betrayal of the church!
The shocking part of the whole support of the South-East for the candidacy of President Jonathan is that over 50% of the people refused to vote as the released results suggested that up to 50% of registered voters in the region were not accredited, unlike in 2011 when the South-East gave the president up to seven million magic votes. The fact remains that the majority of South-Easterners seldom vote and the introduction of the card reader by INEC in the 2015 voting accreditation revealed the political apathy of the zone. The less than 3 million votes from the five states of the region were not enough to swing victory for their ‘adopted’ candidate, Dr. Jonathan.
The woeful impact of Nigeria’s 2015 presidential and national assembly elections on the South-East is that it has denied the zone the opportunity of securing either the office of the Senate President or the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. It is important to note that since the president-elect is from the North and the vice president-elect is from the South-West, the South-East would have secured either the office of the Senate president or that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, if the region avoided the politics of ethnicity and religion and voted for the APC candidates in the election. Even incumbent Senator Chris Ngige who could have emerged the president of the incoming Senate was not re-elected as he was defeated by Hon. Uche Ekwunife of the PDP. Also, no APC candidate from the region won any House of Representatives seat in the Election which would have afforded the region the opportunity of gaining the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The only option for the region is for the incumbent re-elected Senator Andy Uba, representing Anambra South senatorial district to decamp to the APC in order to be able to contest for the Senate presidency since the election results show that the APC constitutes the majority in both chambers of the incoming National Assembly. However, it is doubtful if the APC will be comfortable with such option. If Senator Andy Uba fails to decamp to the APC or if APC members in the senate refuse to elect him as their president if he decamps, then the South-East will, like the South-West in the current administration, be in a political desert, as none of the key four positions of government (President, Vice President, Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker) will be theirs.
Moreover, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) now has every reason to regret not teaming up with it’s Imo State faction to merge with the All Progressives Congress (APC), which if achieved, the South-East would not have cause to worry. Recall that APGA refused aligning for a merger with it’s Imo State faction to during the formation of the APC, in the hope that the PDP would protect the party’s interest in future elections, but with the results of the March 28 National Assembly Elections, the party is now in a state of coma, as it has failed to secure a single seat in both the Senate and House of Representatives Elections in the region. All it’s candidates lost to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The results of the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections have thought Ndi’Igbo to avoid the politics of ethnicity and religion, and to always take Nigeria first before any other interests. The Igbos have also learnt that their voting population is too small to champion selfish interests. They have learnt that they cannot contribute their quota to the nation without the support of other tribes and geopolitical zones.
Ndi’Igbo should therefore join hands together with the incoming administration and never allow themselves to be deceived again by greedy politicians and Judases in the Lord’s Vineyards who parade themselves as Church and religious leaders.