Will North Vote For Jonathan?

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BY ZAYYAD I. MUHAMMAD  President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP have kick-started the ground-work to pave GEJ’s way to a second term. Just like the 2011 presidential elections, Jonathan’s splitting headache in 2015 would be northern Nigeria. But this time around with a major difference- a strong opposition party- APC have emerged. Though the PDP’s presidential primaries will be a work over for Jonathan, but the general elections would not be.  Jonathan has a painstaking task to change the belief by the northern Nigeria Talakwas that his Presidency is not different from that of northern political class who has failed the Talakwas. With the political activities to herald the 2015 elections gaining momentum, President Jonathan’s worry would be how to gain the support of the Talakwas of the north. Before and after his election in 2011, President Jonathan has not applied strategies that can win the hearts of the people of northern Nigeria. With 2015 presidential election fast approaching, can Jonathan still be able to win over the hearts of northern Talakawas before the elections? Does the President have enough time to show the people of the north that his presidency is different? There is no doubt President Jonathan still have a running political battle with a certain clique from the northern Nigeria political class. However, his attention appears more skewed to the ‘politics’ of the battle that he has forgotten himself and ways to win over the northern Talakawas-the poor who make up the majority of the northern populace and are the most important weapon for the battle. Jonathan could have taken advantage of the fact that the leadership of the north and the Talakawas are no more on the same page and thus, win the hearts of the people of the north. But Jonathan has so much relied on politics of the old order- winning the hearts of the Talakwas by proxy- traditional rulers, political elites, and religious leaders. Jonathan has a herculean task to win the Talakawas of the north over; he has to take careful and intelligent development decisions to solve the enormous political problem he is facing in the region. Though some supporters of GEJ are of the view that he has taken some steps in that direction, but they are not enough. For example; the almajiri modern school programme is good, but the children in the north that go to the traditional almajiri schools do so because they don’t have a choice. The agricultural transformation programme is also a welcome development, however, more efforts are needed to reach real farmers as well as make them feel involved in the programme.  President Jonathan still has more time to change northern Talakawas’ impression of his government. He has to design speedy but feasible policies that will completely eliminate the huge security challenges and break the poverty cycle in the north through economically empowering the poor. The manner with which President Jonathan showed personal interests in the Almajiri School Project should be extended to the security challenges, Lake Chad, Sokoto basin and Benue valley oil exploration project, as well as the Mambilla plateau hydro-electricity project. He should also launch special agricultural and poverty alleviation programmes – these are projects that would endear him to the northern Talakawas. This is because for nearly forty years of northern Nigeria political elite’s gripped on political power in Nigeria, they have failed to proffer feasible policies in those areas which could have positively impacted the livelihood of the ordinary people in the north.. As the politics of 2015 gains impetus, just like during the 2011 elections, gaining support from northern Nigeria is President Jonathan’s major dilemma. However, it could be achieved effortlessly if the right strategies are employed. After all, the case against the GEJ in the North is political as well as economical – thus it requires introducing sound economic policies that impact positively on the Talakawas.   Zayyad I. Muhammad, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. He blgs at www.zayyaddp.blogspot.com

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