By TAMUNONIMI JACKS
Nigeria’s democracy will be tested in 2015. This indeed cannot be denied. The year is more or less the most anticipated one in the history of Nigeria’s politics since the transition to democracy in May 29, 1999. It holds the future of Nigeria’s quest on a consolidated democracy.
There is no gainsaying that Nigeria is experiencing her longest practice of democracy since her inception. Compared to the other interrupted ones in the nation’s history, this is her 15th year of civilian rule and counting.
About 18 clear months to the 2015 general election, tension is already mounting in the country about which of the geo-political zones will produce the next president.
The speculated second term ambition of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is one factor that is contributory to the rising tension especially between some interested groups in the North and the Niger Delta where the president hails from.
Jonathan contested and won the last presidential election to the consternation of the North.
Recall that President Jonathan’s political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has a zoning policy where power should rotate between the North and South.
After former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s two terms as president, power returned to the North with late President Umaru Yar’Adua emerging the president. Unfortunately, Yar’Adua died in office before he could complete his first term, paving the way for Jonathan who was his deputy to succeed him. President Jonathan later contested and won the 2011 general election, after defeating former vice president Atiku Abubakar in the PDP presidential primaries. The North represented by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) didn’t like it.
A press statement by the group’s spokesman, Professor Ango Abdullahi states that “the North is determined and is insistent that the leadership of the country will rotate to it in 2015”.
Consequently, with the next election fast approaching, the group is insisting that a northerner must emerge president, just as they are against Jonathan presenting himself for re-election. Alhaji Lawal Kaita, a close ally of Atiku Abubakar states that “this time around he is insisting that a Northerner must emerge as President of the country by 2015 or there would be no Nigeria any more”.
The position of the ACF and critical stakeholders in the North expectedly drew the ire of some individuals and groups in the Niger Delta.
Former president of Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) and leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, in an interview with reporters earlier in the year stated that “Nigeria would boil … there would not be peace in not only Niger- Delta if Jonathan doesn’t become the president in 2015 unless God takes his life”.
An Ijaw leader and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark has stated that “nothing and no one can stop President Goodluck Jonathan in his quest to remain in office in 2015 as President”.
Chief Clark noted that it was the constitutional right of President Jonathan to contest for re-election in 2015. Although, Clark departed from Dokubo when he stated that, “there won’t be post election violence if he (Jonathan) fails to get a return ticket”.
In response to the above in an interview with the National President of the African Youth for Conflict Resolution (AYCR), Dr. Suleiman Shuaibu Shinkafi reported that “the Northern youths are no longer going to tolerate such inciting comments coming from Asari Dokubo and it is totally acceptable… they are battle ready”.
But Dokubo insists that “the current insecurity and tension in the country would be a child’s play if President Goodluck Jonathan fails to win a second term in 2015.
He said that Niger Delta will ensure the nation does not know peace if Jonathan is prevented from returning to office after the 2015 general elections”.
However, President Jonathan has not stated whether or not he will contest the 2015 presidential election, but not a few believe that he would be seeking a second term in the next election.
Analysts believe that it is such comments as “North must return to power in 2015 at all costs and by any means necessary and that if Jonathan doesn’t return as President in 2015, there would be another civil war in Nigeria” is setting the country on the edge; especially when considered against the backdrop of prediction that Nigeria may become a failed state in 2015.
The United States of America had stated in 2005 that Nigeria was at the precipice and may become a failed state in 2015.
However, in spite of fears expressed within and outside Nigeria on what awaits the country in 2015, President Jonathan is of the view that those predicting the disintegration of the country will be disappointed.
According to him, “those who have predicted that Nigeria will break up by the turn of the century when the country will be marking its centenary anniversary will be disappointed because Nigeria will continue to remain one indivisible entity”.
Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida has said the country will survive 2015 as it has done in the past challenges.
“The nation would not disintegrate despite the political hiccups and myriads of challenges bedeviling it in recent times”. He concludes that “in spite of the claim by alarmists who want to instill fear into the people, Nigeria is a blessed country that can never break up,” he stated.