As I write this, President Jonathan has called to congratulate President-Elect General Muhammadu Buhari on his historic win. It is the first time an incumbent president is losing in Nigeria. Prior to this elections and with the powers of procrastination I started writing a post which lay as a draft in my wordpress about how to win an election in Nigeria and the points I made were thus
how do you win a Nigerian Election in no particular order
1. Be an Incumbent aka used the armed forces/police as election aids – I guess this goes out the window with the victory of General Muhammadu Buhari but I don’t know about other elections as we also so a change of hands in the National Assembly with many incumbent Senators losing.
2. Have lots of money and/or wealthy backers – Well I think General has to have had some wealthy backers for all those ads and campaign expenses but he did not have as much as Jonathan who was rumored to be spreading and spending dollars across the polity. Buhari had the rumored contributions of Tinubu, Amaechi and some foreign and local donors to boost his war chest.
3. Play to the Nigerian sense of sentiment aka do your ethnic/religious mathematics – It was a somewhat national win but APC played it’s regional mathematics well, when North combined with the Southwest and played on the growing disappointment across the country with Goodluck’s government and used it to win.
4. Paint your opponent black/Portray them as the devil incarnate – Yep, on social media PDP was the devil and the lucky thing for APC is that discontent with Goodluck Jonathan had been building on social media for the last 3 years and they just had to hook up to it and exploit it and the PDP to win. Of course it is key to note that APC is home to many PDP alumni.
5. Engage in social works/community work way ahead of election day – Although not the complete story and it might have been a factor in these elections but the perception of performance of Governors of Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Edo who are on the APC roster and the record of Buhari as PTF chairman especially in the North did not hurt his chances.
6. Be Loyal cos we know these hoes aint loyal – Nope this election was characterized by disloyalty, *Looking at Northern PDP stalwarts* However Governors like Oshiomole and Rochas performed very well in delivering their states to an extent for Buhari.
7. Have a grassroots presence or structure aside from your party’s – Easy, the General has a scary following in the North and that was his grassroots base upon which he made some alliances and appealed to the Nigerian dissatisfaction with Oga Jona to win.
While there are already lists of what some people expect from Buhari should he win such as Tolu Ogunlesi’s piece (here), I have my own haphazard list for the General
Mr President-Elect if I may be so bold as to make a few suggestions as you prepare to take over at the helm of Nigeria’s affairs
1. Make Peace with your predecessor and have a cordial relationship based on respect. I dont expect you to be best friends with Jonathan but It would be a shame for you to witch-hunt him. Let it be. Get a thorough debrief from him on the current problems and have a good understanding of what you are getting yourself into.
2. Try to run an inclusive government as much as possible. Seems like a moot point but never give regions like the South-South and South-East who voted less than other regions for you any reason to scream marginalization. Same goes for the minorities in the North who have a deep mistrust for Hausa/Fulani rule. Run the government as though everyone voted 100 percent for you and bring development to all parts of the country. Government of national unity perhaps?
3. Pick a great team to help you achieve a lot but do not neglect to exercise oversight. One of the great weaknesses of your predecessor was that he did not exercise enough oversight and let his team do as they liked which did not help his public relations. In line with this, Special request to keep the Minister of Agriculture, Jega if you can and somehow incorporate Charles Soludo. These are good men who could do great things for your government. Competency should trump political interests in your selection.
4. This might be obvious but please live up to your anti-corruption credentials. If you must jail some of the men that brought you to power, do it! Nigeria is greater than any one person. Clean up the political class, oil and gas sector and civil service and government by empowering anti-corruption bodies and the courts (hopefully since it looks like your party might be the majority in the legislature this should be a breeze)
5. Do not discard good ideas that Jonathan had but couldnt complete like his push for Agricultural transformation, YOU-WIN (you could substitute for your own encourage youth to enter entrepreneurship and stimulate the economy program), reviving the railways (of course I prefer high speed bullet trains), Gas revolution, encouraging private refineries etc.
I am sure I will think of more as I revert to my role as constant complainer on twitter after you are sworn and start to make little mistakes here and there. On the real though, after contesting 3 times you succeeded on the 4th time and that is inspirational as hell. The winner was Nigerian democracy. Always remember that your election has shown that the Nigerian people are no longer a people that eat shit smile and call it chocolate but are a people who are aware and will not hesitate to vote you out in 4 years or impeach you earlier if you do not deliver on your promises and manifesto. Goodluck to you General, you have inherited a country that is not easy to govern. All your predecessor’s luck did him little good.