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Massive Corruption Begins in Nigerian Presidential Race

The corruption of the Nigerian political process is  now in full swing: major payments are now being made to each of the delegates of the political parties — particularly the overwhelmingly large ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — who decide the primary elections which then select the party candidate for the presidential elections in 2011. Moreover, the incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, is bribing PDP delegates out of Federal Government funds, making most of the party delegates wealthy enough to buy a new home with the bribery money.

There are some three delegates for each local government council, and some of the 36 states (plus the Federal Territory of Abuja) have, for example, up to 40 or more local government bodies. The incumbent President’s own state, Bayelsa, has only a few, but with each delegate being offered multiple cash payments of up to two-million naira (appr. $13,300) for his vote, the total bill runs into billions of naira. Significantly, each delegate is being bribed by multiple candidates, so each delegate could come out of the election process with enough cash to buy a small house or a car. Moreover, with delegates taking cash from multiple candidates, it is clear that some candidates will have paid out money for nothing.

“In the end,” one candidate told GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs, “we can only hope that delegates will vote their conscience. We can’t suggest that they refuse to take the money; everyone now is taking it. But they should, at the end of the day, vote their conscience.”

Pres. Goodluck Jonathan is scarcely disguising the fact that he is using State funds to pay the bribes to delegates. One of his closest campaign leaders has been recorded on tape, twice, saying that Goodluck Jonathan would “pay whatever is required for each vote”. In earlier elections, the nomination was always secured at the primaries by payments of cash, particularly the nominations of Chief Mashood Abiola and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. But, as old political hands in Abuja noted, in those days, “when you bought a vote, it stayed bought.” Not so today.

A series of delays in the political process has ensured that the parties are unlikely to have their primaries until late December 2010 or early January 2011, and elections may not be feasible until around April 2011, if then. The voter records are not ready, and neither is the voting machinery. The Government allocated funds to buy some 140,000 voting machines from Bangladesh, but then could not fully fund the agreed budget for them.

In any event, there is some doubt as to whether the suppliers could even deliver that quantity of voting machines in time, along with the software programmed in to cover some 60 political parties. There is every reason, then, to believe that the National Electoral Commission could declare that free and fair elections could not be held to meet the Constitutional deadline.

Even assuming that the primaries deliver a clear candidate from the PDP, the outcome is far from certain. It seems unlikely that incumbent Pres. Jonathan can secure an unequivocal mandate from the PDP, given the widespread opposition to him from all the Northern political elements. Thus far, Pres. Jonathan has promoted a facade of Northern support, from the incumbent Northern governors. In reality, all the Northern governors have endorsed all of the candidates, a clear way of endorsing none.

Even if his cash buys the PDP nomination, it is unlikely that Pres. Jonathan can then win the public vote. The Yoruba South-West will vote for its own candidate; the Igbo in the South will not vote for him, because if they do they will be excluded from their own shot at the Presidency for perhaps as long as 18 more years. The Igbo must support a Northern Presidential candidate, ideally with an Igbo running mate, to allow the North to complete the “North’s turn” at the Presidency which was begun by Pres. Yar’Adua, but thwarted by his death with his first term completed by a South-South candidate, Jonathan. And the North, by and large (Muslim and Christian) will not vote for Jonathan, whose popularity nationally plummeted following the Independence Day (October 1, 2010) bombings near Eagle Square, Abuja.

Pres. Jonathan had believed that he had taken control of the PDP by removing its previous Chairman and installing his own man as National Chairman: Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo. However, by October 25, 2010, the party was beginning to revolt against him by members of the Party’s National Working Committee, including the Deputy National Chairman, Alhaji Haliru Mohammed Bellow; the National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje; and the Party’s National Legal Advisor, Chief Olusola Oke. The party revolt was over the Chairman’s alleged “unilateral actions”. Sources indicated that this was a fight which was about to escalate, and embroil the President.

Meanwhile, Pres. Jonathan should face a major challenge, possibly even by the end of October 2010 or the first week of November, when the Northern elders — not just from the PDP but across the spectrum of parties, and from both Muslim and Christian groupings — come out with their decision as to which candidate is “the candidate of the North” for the Presidency, regardless of party. This would present an almost unprecedented situation, in which Nigeria’s North, en bloc, had decided on a preferred candidate. Earlier reporting had indicated that the so-called “wise men of the North” would recommend a consensus candidate for just the PDP, but it is now evident that the selection goes beyond party boundaries.

See Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 6, 2010: Pres. Jonathan Moves to Suppress Presidential Opponents in Nigeria While Security and Political Situations Worsen.

Assuming, as is likely, the North does vote more-or-less en bloc for the consensus candidate, the other regions would not be expected to vote together to deliver enough votes to defeat such a candidate, either in the party primaries or in the general Presidential election in 2011.

Sources in a number of areas in Nigeria’s North reported that, as of October 26, 2010, only one candidate had all the credentials to win the nomination: former National Security Advisor Aliyu Mohammed (also known as Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, as he comes from Gusau). Aliyu Mohammed is known as the one candidate who has never engaged in private business, including receiving payments from oil allocations. One close confidante said: “Money does not interest him. What drives him is the concept of Nigeria as a unified state.

Moreover, he has friends throughout the country, regardless of race or religion. Even internationally, he is as respected in Christian societies as in Jewish or Muslim circles. He has also been the official who has negotiated virtually every major treaty or peacekeeping deal in which Nigeria has been involved for decades. His only problem from a political standpoint is that he is modest, and hates courting the press. Even the many journalists who have known him for decades had refrained from showing his picture in the press out of respect for his privacy. He will now have to change that aspect of his personality, but in all other respects — economics, national planning, consensus-building, diplomacy, security, and much more — he is the great Nigerian of the post-independence period.”

Analysis from GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs station Abuja.




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