Two weeks to polls: Jonathan’s campaign in disarray as Buhari surges

Jonathan• President sidelines Ahmadu Ali campaign committee
• Eurasia group projects Buhari to win 60% of votes

Things are not adding up for President Goodluck Jonathan  and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in his re-election bid with the poll a mere 14 days away.

Suspicion is rife within the party hierarchy, and leaders are pulling in different directions, according to presidency and party sources.

So bad is the situation that the President’s campaign has split into five with the president himself taking his destiny in his own hand by personally criss-crossing the country to woo traditional rulers, opinion moulders, youth and women leaders with a view to salvaging the situation.

Shortly after his nomination by the PDP for the race, President Jonathan set up a Presidential Campaign Council led by Dr. Ahmadu Ali to co-ordinate the campaign nationwide.

But complaints and field reports reaching the president from the states convinced him that the council was far from effective.

In came the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, who, sources said, began to ‘remote control’ the campaign council.

Soon, four other main groups, all purporting to work for the president’s election emerged.

These are: the PDP Governors’ Forum; the PDP initiative; and the strategic team being driven by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim/ ministers/ Chief E.K. Clark/ and other motley support groups.

A party source familiar with the situation said: “The struggle for personal benefits has overshadowed the target of winning the election. Virtually everyone wants to make money from the campaign as if there will be no tomorrow or as if we are going to lose at the poll.

“The president saw the gaps and decided to personally drive his own campaign.”

The situation was not helped by poll results before the postponement of the February election that the President was heading for a humiliating defeat.

He quickly took over the campaign and has been jetting round the country to prop up his image.

“If the president tells you his experience in the last three weeks that he has been shuttling about, you will appreciate that he would have lost the February 14 election woefully,” was the way another source put it yesterday.

Only last Thursday, the Deputy Director-General of the PDP Campaign Organisation, Professor Tunde Adeniran, accused the PDP of doing little to promote Jonathan.

“If we continue to show this man has not done anything, others will capitalise on it. The party is not showing enough in this regard. The president’s achievement is undersold and in some cases not sold at all. In some places they ask, so Jonathan has done so?” he said.

Within the last three weeks, the president has visited the Southwest, which he sees as the zone holding the ace in the election, at least four times to plead for support.

During the first visit, he spent a whole week in Lagos meeting Obas, youths, market women and other interest groups. He also visited churches for prayers.

On the second visit, he went to Oyo town to see the Alaafin, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, and Ile-Ife on the third visit where some Obas were gathered to pray for him

He returned to the zone on Thursday to seek the support of the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, who told him that he should not expect any Oba to campaign for him.

“In Ijebu here, it is not possible for any Oba- not even in Ijebu, in Yorubaland- to go out and say vote for this, vote for that. That person is looking for trouble. But they should give them (the politicians) the opportunity to present their programmes so that the people can make up their minds on what to do,” the Awujale told him.

Comments by the president’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, during campaigns are also believed to be alienating sections of the country from her husband.

One of such was the statement she made recently in Port Harcourt that northerners are breeding children they could not cater for, hence the menace of Almajiris.

“Our men no dey born shildren throway for street. We no dey like the people for that side,” she said in pidgin English.

Apparently haunted by the statement, Mrs. Jonathan last week was absent at a women’s campaign in Minna, Niger State.

Another was when she declared in Asaba, Delta State that the APC presidential flag bearer, General Muhammadu Buhari was “brain dead.”

She was also in Benin, Edo State yesterday where she said that her husband must complete “our two terms” in office.

Meanwhile, the Eurasia Group, the world’s leading global political risk research and consulting firm, has tipped the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, to win this month’s election.

The firm projects that the APC flag bearer has a 60 per cent probability to beat President Goodluck Jonathan in the election.

The firm’s Africa practice head and analyst, Philippe de Pontet, wrote yesterday that the electoral map is tilting to Buhari in swing regions in the Southwest and the Middle Belt.

He said that with Buhari in the saddle, investors could expect business-oriented policies.

He adds: “The election will still be difficult to call, but our expectation of a narrow Jonathan win was predicated on several factors that are losing some saliency late in the campaign.

“Chief among them is the incumbency and financial advantages of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). While this still helps Jonathan, its impact is blunted by the intensity of support for Buhari, lackluster grassroots campaigning by the PDP, and new anti-rigging measures by the electoral commission.

“New permanent voting cards and card readers will sharply reduce the level of rigging seen in 2011, when Jonathan beat Buhari in a landslide …

“While we expected the electoral map to favour Jonathan, current trends suggest that the swing regions may side with Buhari, including the Christian-majority and heavily-populated southwest around Lagos. That could be the decisive demographic factor in the election …”

A local think tank, the Centre for Public Policy Alternatives, gave Buhari a 58% to 32% lead in Lagos State, where Jonathan won the last election. Eurasia Group thinks Jonathan’s approval rating is below the 40% threshold under which incumbents have a hard time getting reelected.

“Despite some important military gains against [the Islamic terror group] Boko Haram in the northeast, and a partial exoneration of its oil revenue management in a recent PWC audit, [Jonathan’s] Peoples Democratic Party is starting to look desperate. … [But] it is not clear … that Buhari has a strong economic policy orientation. This uncertainty is a chief risk for investors.”

Jonathan is likely to contest an unfavorable outcome, especially a close election, and that could mean protracted violence.

“The reason we aren’t upgrading Nigeria’s outlook to positive, however, rests in the potential for an oil disruption and the likely pushback to Buhari’s policy agenda in a highly polarized political climate. His victory is likely to unleash a resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta (Jonathan’s home region) that targets the oil sector. Former Delta militants have threatened to blow up oil pipelines, platforms, and personnel as in the past when they routinely took up to 500,000 barrels per day offline. There is likely some bluster in their threats …”

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