The year 2015 will remain etched in memories of many Nigerians for a long time to come. It was a year doomsayers predicted the dismemberment of Nigeria, but it came out to be the year that even cemented Nigeria’s unity the more given a very peaceful election and party-party transition. EMMA ALOZIE looks at just the few election events that took place in 2015
The outgoing year is one of the most politically active and sensitive year in Nigeria’s recent history. It was a year that naysayers and doomsayers foretold would make or mar the existence of Nigeria as a united entity.
Many predictions and permutations came saying that by 2015, Nigeria may cease to exist. In the build up to 2015 general elections, the tensions generated almost suggested that the predictions and permutations were about coming to fruition.
But fortuitously, a country that was dancing precariously on the brink was pulled out to perhaps a more united entity.
However, there are landmark events that can be said to have stood out in the outgoing year and may very well determine Nigeria’s direction even in the next several years to come.
The 2015 general election
If there was one event that threatened the continued existence of Nigeria in 2015, it was the general elections, especially the presidential election. For the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, nobody could accurately predict which party was going to win the election. And also for the first time since 1999, the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP witnessed the emergence a very formidable opposition that spared nothing in its drive to wrench power from the PDP and it did.
The election came with innovations like the smart carder and the permanent voters card. These two technological items improved the credibility of the election.
In the build up to the election, the two personalities involved; former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari divided opinions and Nigerians equally. The campaigns were so heated that the outcome of the election became a source of worry to many concerned Nigerians.
Then when the President Jonathan summoned the rare courage to make that historic phone call to General Buhari to congratulate him even before the results were all announced, it deflated whatever tensions that existed pre-election.
It was an election never seen before; full of intrigues, tensions, sorrows and joys almost in equal measure. The successful conclusion of the election saw the upstaging of the behemoth called the PDP after 16 uninterrupted years of heading the central government. It is one major event that shaped 2015.
Kogi guber election and the death of Audu
After the general elections earlier in the year that saw the emerging All Progressives Congress, APC sweeping itself to power, came the Kogi state governorship election; a stand alone. The election held on October 21 was majorly between the incumbent governor, Idris Wada of the PDP and the Prince Abubakar Audu, a former governor, a veteran in the contest and the governorship candidate of the APC.
But something unenvisaged happened. While the election was yet to be concluded, Prince Audu died, thereby throwing open a legal conundrum that promises to readjust the nation’s legal jurisprudence. The Independent Electoral Commission, INEC declared the election inconclusive based on the fact that the number of votes separating APC’s candidate and the runner up was less than the number of the cancelled or voided votes.
Therefore, INEC rescheduled what it called a supplementary election. But this is where the real headache started. While APC listened to the voice of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Malami and went back to the party’s primary election to select Yahaya Bello, the aspirant that came second behind Prince Audu, Prince Audu’s running mate, Hon James Faleke declared himself the only authentic candidate to inherit both the ticket and the already valid votes. He went a step further to name Mohammed Audu, Prince Audu’s son as his running mate.
The party stood its ground and Faleke filed a petition before the court. Faleke’s insistence that he is not the running mate to Bello has left APC open to legal harassments because it is a constitutional requirement that a candidate of any party must nominate a running mate. The Faleke/Audu affair has simply opened up the inadequacies of both the 1999 constitution and the 2010 Electoral Act. These two documents never envisaged a situation where such scenario could arise and they did not take care of it.
This has thrown the thorny issue back to the judiciary to decide. It quite promises to be interesting, whichever the issue is resolved.
The inconclusive Bayelsa guber poll
After the inconclusive Kogi election, came another inconclusive election in Bayelsa state. It was also another stand alone election held on December 5. The election is basically between the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson of the PDP and the former governor, Timi Sylva of the APC. In a state of only 8 local governments, though with very notorious terrain, the election also became inconclusive. The election was said to have gone smoothly with little forgivable glitches, but it turned into war in Southern Ijaw, the second biggest local government in the state said to contain over 120,000 registered voters. This local government turned into the theater of battle, a battle ground the APC candidate hopes to use to wipe off the 34000 deficit he suffered in the hands of the PDP candidate.
The election has now cut across two calendar years as that of Southern Ijaw cancelled because it was marred by violence, has been rescheduled to January 9, 2016. It is instructive here because the ruling PDP in the state, the only party the state has voted since 1999 is sitting on the edge. Whichever way the election goes, the political equation in Bayelsa, the state of the former President Jonathan and the homeland of the Ijaws perhaps may never remain the same.