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Verdict could leave Nigeria in deeper political quagmire

February 14, 2008

The much anticipated verdict of the Nigerian presidential election tribunal will leave us in deeper political quagmire than we already are in, whichever way it goes. If judgement favours President Umaru Yar’Adua, we’ll all be expected to accept it and move on. It will, however give people the wrong impression that whatever one gets away with at the polling stations will eventually find legitimacy at the tribunals.

If on the other hand President Yar’Adua loses, several critical issues will become manifest:

The political problems created by the manner in which the elections were handled still remain unresolved. Among these is the credibility problem that hangs over the Independent National Electoral Commission, which by law will be charged with the responsibility of conducting fresh elections if the tribunal so directs.

President Yar’Adua may have a bigger challenge from within his own party. It is an open secret that some members of the PDP are warming up to the idea of forcing for a re-run of their party primaries which they feel had been manipulated to favour Yar’Adua. If they succeed, the situation may be a bit messy and whoever eventually emerges as the candidate may be so bruised that he may have difficulty winning a rerun election.

General Buhari may even be in bigger trouble. He may not even have a platform on which to re-run given the level of disaffection between himself and his party, the All Nigeria Peoples Congress. Moreover, he may have to look for a new running mate because his former running mate, who doubles as the party’s national chairman, has disowned him and is now in working “alliance” with the ruling party, the PDP.

Atiku Abubakar’s party, the AC, is in such total disarray that it can no longer have strong national reach to guarantee his success. Moreover, his decision to stay out of the country due to what many believe is his fear of being arrested, has earned the anger of many of his erstwhile supporters. Compared to Buhari’s doggedness, many see him as too weak and self-centred to be an effective leader. An interesting idea being mentioned is for Atiku to throw whatever remains of his support and resources behind Buhari. That should surely give the PDP a big challenge and make the outcome of a re-run election far from certain.

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