Home » Goodluck Jonathan (2010-present), Presidency, South-West » Interesting Pictures: Presidential poll: South-West as Jonathan’s new bride

Interesting Pictures: Presidential poll: South-West as Jonathan’s new bride


Jonathan receiving blessings from traditional rulers

The South-West, home to the Yoruba people, seems to have become the last hope of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, writes LEKE BAIYEWU

Since the 2015 general elections were postponed for six weeks, the South-West geo-political zone of Nigeria has become home to the powers that be in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, led by the Presidency. The party and its presidential candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, have redoubled their efforts to woo the electorate in the geopolitical zone. Consultations are being made, meetings are being held, while promises and commitments are being made to win the sympathy of the voters.

The elections were to be held on February 14 (presidential and National Assembly) and February 21 (governorship and state House of Assembly) but for their controversial postponement by the Independent National Electoral Commission on February 7 – just a week before their commencement. Now the polls are on hold to March 28 and April 11.

Jonathan with Ooni of Ife

Since the postponement, the PDP and the opposition All Progressives Congress have launched full-scale campaigns to garner the majority votes in the South-West. However, observers of the activities of both parties believe that President Jonathan’s campaign in the zone has been massive of recent. According to them, the President, as the General, appears to be leading his battle.

Specifically, the PDP and its presidential candidate seem to have based their campaign on their interest to implement the report of the 2014 National Conference; their intention of ending the marginalisation of the Yoruba in the top echelon of government; and the provision of infrastructure in the zone.

Traditional rulers and leaders of the zone have been lamenting the marginalisation of the Yoruba under the Jonathan-led administration.

Currently the President is from the South-South; Vice-President, North-West; Senate President, North-Central; Deputy Senate President, South-East; Speaker of the House of Representatives, North-West; Deputy Speaker, South-East; Chief Justice of Nigeria, North-East and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, South-East.

Penultimate Saturday, President Jonathan led notable chieftains of the PDP, including the party’s National Chairman, Adamu Muazu, on a visit to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, in his palace in Ile-Ife, Osun State – the second visit to the monarch.

Jonathan with Alaafin of Oyo

About 50 other traditional rulers from the state and its environs had received the President at the palace. They included the Orangun of Oke Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin; Oluresi of Iresi, Oba Ibitoye Adeseun; Owamiran of Esa-Oke, Oba Adeyemi Adeniran; and the Olufi of Gbongan, Oba Adetoyese Oyeniyi. With their staffs pointed at Jonathan, the monarchs prayed for him in the traditional way.

Such visits, like the previous ones, usually offer the hosts opportunity to make requests, while the visitor will make promises. It was at the meeting that the Ooni demanded a total representation of the South-West in Jonathan’s cabinet and the creation of Oduduwa State.

Oba Sijuwade, delegated the Orangun of Oke-Ila to speak on his behalf, that “We want total representation. There are ongoing projects in Osun State and we know there is paucity of fund but we want you to finish all the projects.”

Oniresi of Iresi, after lauding the transformation agenda of Jonathan’s administration and the renewed war against Boko Haram insurgents, said, “Ife and Ijesa are large enough to form a state of their own. We want you to create Oduduwa State with its headquarters in Ile-Ife. We also seek the implementation of the Confab report. We throw our weight behind you.”

The Owamiran of Esa-Oke also assured the President of the support of the royal fathers and the residents of the state in the coming polls. “Be rest assured that Obas and indigenes of Osun State are solidly behind you,” the monarch told Jonathan.

Jonathan with Oba of Lagos

The President had also promised the monarchs that he would correct all the lapses observed by his administration concerning the South-West, especially the low representation of the people in his government.

Jonathan said he would not allow a repeat of the loss of the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, which was zoned to the South-West, to the North-West, if given the opportunity to return for a second term.

“There will be political opportunities for the people in the South-West; we will correct all the lapses. People from the South-West will play key role and whatever is due to them will be given,” Jonathan had told the monarchs.

Like the President told the leadership of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, at a meeting in Akure, Jonathan promised to implement the report of the 2014 National Confab. It was on this basis that the Yoruba under the Afenifere umbrella claimed to have endorsed his re-election bid.

In the first round of visits to traditional rulers and leaders of Yorubaland, Jonathan had operated from his Lagos base – the State House, Marina – where he hosted several socio-economic and political groups and from where he toured major cities and towns in the South-West.

President Jonathan was in Lagos on February 12 – few days after the postponement of the polls – to inaugurate four platforms of the Nigerian Navy. He remained in the state for four days in company with national officers and leaders of the PDP.

It was during the period that the President met with the Yoruba Council of Elders in Lagos.

It was also during the period that Jonathan met with some traditional rulers behind closed-doors in Ogun State at the inauguration of the Olorunsogo II Power Station, a 750MW power plant built under the Nigerian Integrated Power Project. The about 20 traditional rulers were led by the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, who is also the Chairman of the Ogun State Council of Traditional Rulers.

Others at the meeting included the Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Michael Sonariwo; and the Olowu of Owu, Oba Adesanya Dosunmu. But the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona and the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle were absent.

During the same period, the President visited the palace of Alara of Ilara-Epe and Chairman of the Epe Divisional Council of Obas in Lagos, Oba Akeem Adesanya.

In Oyo State, Jonathan visited the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, and the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III.

Like it played out at the recent visit to the Ooni of Ife, Jonathan was quoted as saying at the palace of the the Ogbomoso monarch that, “We promise that we will do our best to move Nigeria forward. Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide (Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory) will collect the list of abandoned and ongoing projects from you (the monarch). When you send us back, we will complete them. We may not do much between now and election time.”

During the tour of the South-West, Jonathan had also met with a section of traditional rulers – almost the same he met with at the Olorunsogo power plant – in Abeokuta. They included the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; the Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Michael Sonariwo; and the Olowu of Owu, Oba Adesanya Dosunmu.

The Awujale and the Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, and Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, were absent again.

It was after Jonathan’s departure from Lagos that Governor Babatunde Fashola alleged that the President spent five days in the state, holding meetings with different people and doling out monies in hard currencies to them.

“He was here for five days meeting with different people and groups, distributing money in dollars,” the governor said.

One week after departing Lagos, President Jonathan returned to the state to meet with about 5,000 youths in a programme titled, ‘Meet the President.’

After the meeting with the Ooni of Ife and other Osun monarchs, Jonathan eventually visited Oba Adetona in his Ijebu Ode palace on Thursday. The monarch, known for his blunt nature, told the President that it was not proper in Yorubaland for an Oba to canvass for votes for any candidates seeking elective posts. They could only encourage their subjects to make their informed choices, he said.

The Awujale pointed out that any Oba that was canvassing for votes for any political party’s candidate would be courting trouble. He said rather than engaging monarchs for campaigns, each candidate must go out and sell his or manifesto to the electorate.

“In Ijebu here, it is not possible for any Oba, not even only in Ijebu, in Yorubaland, to go out and say vote for this, vote for that; that person is looking for trouble.

“But, give them the opportunity to present their programmes so that people can make up their minds on what to do. I think this is a very sound democratic principle and that is what I have decided to do, to give you the opportunity of meeting with the people,” Oba Adetona stated.

Jonathan later held another meeting with leaders of the O’odua Peoples Congress in Lagos same day.

It was also during Jonathan’s tour of the South-West, that the Afenifere leadership endorsed him. The Yoruba leaders had met thrice within four weeks to endorse Jonathan, saying only the PDP candidate could ensure the restructuring of the country by implementing the report of the confab.

Afenifere first endorsed Jonathan at a meeting held with him at the residence of group’s leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, Ondo State on January 27.

Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, had also convened a post-National Conference meeting of Yoruba leaders to review the recommendations of the confab. Again, they concluded that Jonathan’s re-election would ensure the implementation of the conference’s recommendations.

The third of such meetings – also convened by Mimiko – was held in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, on February 26. It was also on the implementation of the confab report.

Although the PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisah Metuh, had said Jonathan’s visits to the South-West should not be politicised, close watchers of his activities in the region have argued otherwise.

Speaking to SUNDAY PUNCH, a former Secretary-General of Afenifere and Chairman of the defunct Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference, Senator Femi Okurounmu, had said it would amount to a wasted effort if the recommendations of the 2014 confab were not implemented.

According to him, Jonathan has the political will to implement the confab’s report, unlike Buhari whose party – the APC – had been opposed to the exercise from the onset. He stated this was the reason why Yoruba leaders had rooted for Jonathan.

However, another former Secretary-General of Afenifere and Convener of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms, Chief Ayo Opadokun, had argued that the reason given by the Yoruba leaders was not tenable.

According to the Secretary-General of the National Democratic Coalition, the excuse “does not command respect” and is dissatisfactory. He recalled that several confabs had been convoked, which recommendations remained unimplemented. Opadokun wondered what assurances the Yoruba leaders received from Jonathan to have compelled them into endorsing the PDP candidate.

As the general elections draw nearer, Jonathan has not been left alone in the battle for the political soul of the South-West. Just like the Afenifere leaders, PDP governors have joined him in the battle.

Members of the PDP Governors’ Forum usually host the meeting of the forum in their respective states or in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. This time, the forum shifted its base to Lagos State – a non-member state and stronghold of the opposition All Progressives Congress.

The PDPGF held an interactive session with the media and civil society organisations in Lagos on Tuesday

Those in attendance were Governors Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom, Chairman of the forum); Liyel Imoke (Cross River); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); and Bala Ngilari (Adamawa). Others were Ayo Fayose (Ekiti); Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo); Ibrahim Shema (Katsina); Jonah Jang (Plateau); Mukhtar Yero (Kaduna) and Ibrahim Danwambo (Gombe).

The crux of the agenda at the event was why Nigerians should not vote for the APC. The governors and other key speakers took turns to reel out the ills of the opposition party and reasons why its presidential candidate, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), should not be made president.

Akpabio had confirmed the peculiar nature of the venue when he said Lagos was chosen because it was the headquarters of the media and activism in Nigeria. According to him, Lagos has been plagued by the propaganda of the APC, and that the PDP wanted to showcase its achievements in the city.

Beyond Akpabio’s analogy, Lagos, the country’s economic capital, is arguably the most populous state in the country and has the highest number of registered voters – about six million.

The opposition has been in control of Lagos since the onset of the Fourth Republic in 1999. But Jonathan and the PDP are banking on the support of the large number of non-indigenes in the state.

Of the six geopolitical zones in the country, South-West has the second largest voter population (about 13 million) after North-West (with about 18 million).

In a similar pattern, according to INEC’s statistics on Permanent Voter Card distribution, the South-West has recorded the highest percentage of collection in the southern part of the country.

The North-West comprises Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states. Buhari won in all the North-West states in 2011. The South-West has Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states. Jonathan won all South-West states in 2011, except Osun.

Currently, the APC governs four of the six south-western states (Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun), while PDP governs two (Ondo and Ekiti).

Jonathan is from the South-South; his running mate, Vice President Namadi Sambo is from the North-West. The APC presidential candidate, Buhari, is from the North-West; his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is from the South-West.

But, Buhari is widely believed to be more popular in the North, most especially the North-East and the North-West, despite he and Sambo coming from the same North-West.

The South-South and the South-East are where Jonathan is predicted to get block votes, but these zones have the lowest number of registered voters in the country.

Both candidates are expected to share the North-Central – the Middle Belt.

Therefore, winning the South-West is a necessity for Jonathan, while Lagos has the goldmine of votes among the states in the zone.

In his assessment of the massive presidential campaigns in the South-West, Professor Emmanuel Onyebuchi of the Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria Nsukka, said unlike in 2011 when Jonathan and the PDP enjoyed massive support in the South-West, the alleged marginalisation of the Yoruba under by his administration seemed to have taken a toll on his popularity in the zone.

He said, “If you go through the results of the last election (2011), you will see that Jonathan had strong support from the South-West. In Lagos for instance, he had overwhelming support. But from what we see in the media on the campaigns, it appears that there is a turn against him and the PDP. It appears that the South-West is not in some key positions in the country; there is this feeling in the South-West that they did not get much under Jonathan.

“Again, with (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo and some opinion leaders in the South-West openly criticising the administration, there is a general fear in the PDP and this is one of the reasons why Jonathan has launched massive campaign in the zone.”

Similarly, Professor Saleh Dauda of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, admitted that the South-West has become the battleground for political parties to win supports for the presidential election.

He said, “The South-West has the second largest voting population and any presidential candidate that the zone supports massively is likely to win. The only place the APC can lay claim to in the southern part of the country is the South-West. The PDP is also aware that the only place they can have massive support and win votes to win the presidency, apart from the South-South, South-East and some parts of the Middle Belt in the North, is the South-West.”

On why Jonathan and the PDP are not concentrating on the North-West – Buhari’s base – which has the largest voter population, the professor pointed out that the zone was a no-go area for the ruling party.

“With the population in the North-West, no matter what Jonathan will do there, they will not vote for him. The religious sentiment (there) is very strong. No matter the efforts there, it is like planting chaff that will not germinate. It is a very dry ground for the PDP; that is why they are concentrating on areas where they can get support,” the political scientist said.

On the influence the traditional rulers being consulted have on the electorate, Dauda said traditional leaders in the South-West, to a certain extent, could influence votes but not as much as their counterparts in the North, “where the institution is very strong and where the majority of the people are not literate.”

He added, “In fairness to the PDP, it is not only the traditional rulers that the party is courting; it is courting the O’odua Peoples Congress, the Yoruba Council of Elders, Afenifere and other stakeholders. PDP is not restricted to only the traditional rulers in the South-West. In this game, you don’t ignore anybody. However, I don’t think the traditional institution in the South-West is as strong as in the North, and its ability to garner supports may not be as much as in the North. They have their influence, no matter how little.”


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Posted by on Mar 15 2015. Filed under Goodluck Jonathan (2010-present), Presidency, South-West. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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