5 Ways Election Postponement Reduced Buhari's Popularity
Editor's note: There is no doubt that the six week postponement of the general election has effectively hurt the popularity of Gen Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC).While Buhari appears to be struggling to keep up with the change in tide, President Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party seems to be gaining momentum. But what are the factors that have given President Jonathan an edge at this crucial hour? Kess Ewubare of Legit.ng pens down 5 ways the poll shit might have made Jonathan more popular than Buhari.
– A short overview of the momentum that surrounded Buhari before the February presidential election.
– Author’s opinion on the 5 ways why the poll shift has given President Jonathan an edge over Buhari.
Before the February 14 elections presidential election, President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appeared to be heading for certain defeat, on the other hand, the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Party (APC), Gen Buhari, was souring on eagles wings. The euphoria around Buhari was so high that many renamed the month of February FeBuhari. The APC presidential aspirant was almost sure of victory in the coming poll until the elections were postponed under controversial circumstances. Since then, the tides seem to have turned. The euphoria surrounding Buhari has suddenly diminished and it appears good luck might just be on the side of President Jonathan and the PDP once again. In this light, here are five reasons why the election postponement might have given Jonathan an edge over Gen Buhari.
READ ALSO: Jonathan Wants To Freeze Buhari's Accounts - APC Campaign
The Recent Military Victories Against Boko Haram
The insecurity in the northeast of the country was the main reason why the elections were postponed. The military chiefs said the army might be unable to provide adequate security during the poll because they will be engaged in counter insurgency operations in the northeast of the country. The elections therefore had to be shifted.Now, the Nigerian Army has recorded significant victories against Boko Haram. These victories began three weeks ago with an assault on Sambisa forest, the notorious hideout of Boko Haram. On February 21, Saturday, the Nigerian army recorded another feat by recapturing the strategic town of Bama in northeastern Borno State from Boko Haram and blocking the sects march on the state capital of Maiduguri. Although President Jonathan has been increasingly criticised for his inaction against the terror group, these recent victories by the army has added boost to his chances in the forthcoming poll. Buoyed by Boko Haram's retreat, President Jonathan on Tuesday, February 24, said the tide has "definitely turned" against the militants. He has even promised to arrest Boko Haram leader, Shakau before the March 28 election. This new firm stance by the president is likely to win him more fan base among those who might have been skeptical about him.
Buhari Has Suffered A Battered Image Through Media Propaganda
The rescheduling of the general election by six weeks has given the PDP ample time to adopt divers media channels in attacking the image of Buhari. The party has now shifted from highlighting the achievements of President Jonathan’s administration to castigating and soiling the Image Of the APC presidential candidate. Buhari’s image has suffered from questions about his health; his dictatorial past; the 2011 post-election violence; and has even been labeled as an Islamist waiting to impose sharia on Nigeria if elected president. In achieving this PDP has sponsored divers groups who wash the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), African Independent Television (AIT) and other media stations with campaigns that raise questions on the character of Buhari. With few weeks to the elections, it is evident that Buhari’s image would suffer more attacks and this may sway many who once saw him as a fitting presidential candidate. With a battered Image courtesy of PDP propaganda, Goodluck Jonathan has gained significant advantage over Buhari.
APC Has Ran Out of Campaign Funds
On the 25 of February, Punch Newspaper reported that the APC has embarked on cost-saving measures for its rallies due to the shift in the dates of the general elections. The party was said to be opting for other less capital intensive campaign strategies to deal with the challenge. Although a member of the party’s Board of Trustees, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu dismissed insinuations that the party is in financial trouble. The writing on the wall is clear for all to see. The APC which in past organised campaigns that draw mammoth crowds has struggled to repeat such feat .While President Jonathan with endless source of cash continues to travel round the country building his fan base. Buhari on the other hand has to lay low, aware of his limited source of cash. This has also hurt Buhari’s popularity to a large degree.
READ ALSO: How Anti-GMB “Paid” Protesters Left The Scene Confused
PDP Has Few Weeks To Plot Buhari’s Defeat
While the All Progressive Congress (APC) might have ran out of breath, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be perfecting plans to ensure that victory on March 28 is certain. This explains President Jonathan’s recent visit to the Yoruba traditional rulers who have unequivocally vowed their support to the president. In a country where integrity is scarce, the poll shift might have also have given the PDP ample time to plant people in strategic positions to ensure that the party emerges victorious on March 28. Truth be told, the APC which seemed to have the edge before the election postponement is now struggling to catch up with the PDP. Within the next few weeks the euphoria that surrounds Buhari might have disappeared, giving Jonathan a clear edge over his rival.
APC Has Lost Momentum
APC has lost the element of surprise. Prior to February 14, the APC was the party to beat, with rallies drawing mammoth crowds all over the country, the momentum of the APC was at a crescendo. But With the rescheduling of the general elections the party has yet to gain the kind of moral it previously had. Like Femi Aribisala noted on Scam news : "The six week postponement of the election has effectively crippled the APC. It is no wonder then that the party has been grumbling non-stop. In the meantime, PDP has been able to get a full measure of the APC. Putting all its eggs in the 14th February date, which it insisted cannot and must not be changed; the APC played all its cards. It put all its eggs in one basket. However, PDP held some in reserve, banking on the postponement of the election."
It seems the party threw all its weight behind the February 14 elections, now the ego of the party has been hurt by the poll shift. The APC appears to have ran out of ideas. This might be an explanation for Buhari’s recent trip to London and his speech at the Chatham House. A public relations stunt meant to buy out time for the party to re-strategise and come out smoking. But while Buhari is in London giving public talks in a foreign country, President Jonathan is spreading his popularity by visiting troops battling Boko Haram and building his fan base ahead of March 28 poll. This has indeed giving Jonathan a boost ahead of Buhari.
I would have liked to see a close contest between PDP and APC, but the poll shift has already given PDP an advantage. What do you think, can Buhari still gain the momentum he had before the elections were postponed?
Kess Ewubare Is a Senior Content Editor with Legit.ng. The opinions expressed in this article are he's and do not represent the views of Legit.ng.