If the trend analysis given by a prominent national newspaper is something to go by, for sure the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has become the leading presidential aspirant in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) October 23 primaries.
When the newspaper, THISDAY, came out with its third ‘update’ on the voting pattern of delegates to the ruling party’s presidential primaries, the paper claimed that out of a possible 3,483 statutory delegates, its trends extrapolation established that Jonathan would get 1,606 votes, IBB 901 and Atiku, whose waiver to contest for president had not even been granted by PDP when the update was published, was assigned 63 votes while the undecided were pegged at 913.
It was interesting to discover that the newspaper’s delegates’ allotment to the three candidates in real terms worked favourably more for Atiku Abubakar instead of Goodluck Jonathan though it was originally intended as part of the game plan to trick the would-be delegates and shore up the chances of Jonathan winning the PDP primaries.
Analyzing the figures from ThisDay’s trend analysis, of the 3,483 delegates, the total number of those likely to vote for Jonathan will be 1,606 compared to 1,833 who will not vote for him. Considering a globally established and accepted fact that a presidential candidate’s favourability rating with potential delegates tends to be higher before the candidate’s formal declaration (partly because his opponents have not begun subjecting him aggressively to scrutiny); and in this case also, the suspicion that Babangida will withdraw from the race at a point for whatever reasons, then the trends analysis is literally handing over the PDP nomination to Atiku.
Based on the known fact that many governors are saying one thing while meaning another for the fear of the recently unleashed EFCC against some state governors alleged to be anti-Jonathan, it may be safe to assume that nearly all the 913 delegates who claimed they were ‘undecided’ may actually be solidly against the president while the tally of the delegates projected to vote for the president should be discounted by some 50 per cent because of the ‘fear of EFCC factor’. So that brings Jonathan’s actual supporters to about 806 delegates.
So it’s obvious that a lot of uncertainty still appears to be hanging over the direction the delegates would go in the October 23 PDP presidential primaries. And of the three candidates trended in the analysis, the former vice president, Atiku stands the brightest chance of grabbing majority of the delegates
Another newspaper, The Sun, on Monday 13th September 2010, published a survey conducted in the first week of this month by the International Institute for Political Research, a United Kingdom-based policy development centre, which indicated that the race for the ticket of the presidential candidate of the ruling PDP “is a three-way contest between the president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and the former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.”
According to the survey’s findings, at least, one out of every four delegates has indicated a preference for Jonathan, Atiku or Babangida while about two out of each five delegates said they remained undecided. But this was before the former vice president received the waiver from the party and with it, most of the previously undecided delegates would have to choose between Atiku and Jonathan.
The report said 57% of those who withheld support for President Jonathan hinged their position on the fact that they had mixed feelings about his determination to run in the race despite the decision of the PDP to retain its policy on power rotation. But then, this was before it became clear on Wednesday 8th September 2010 that Jonathan was indeed in the race.
The expert interpretations of these interesting trends analysis may have spurred Atiku into taken the battle for the PDP presidential ticket to the door steps of delegates with a personal letter to each of the statutory delegates throughout the country, including President Goodluck Jonathan.
The letters, as reported, were addressed to the President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Senators, members of the House of Representatives, State Houses of Assembly, Local Government Council Chairmen, PDP Chairmen in the Local Government Councils and PDP state executive officers.
His words: “I am seeking the presidency of our great country to chart a new course for our beloved country and lead our people to their manifest destiny.
“We need to create millions of jobs to keep our youth gainfully employed and help to tackle the high level of insecurity in the country. We must invest in education, research and modern technology, and infrastructure so that our productivity can increase significantly. We have to improve on our healthcare delivery so that our people will no longer die needlessly”.
“With your support, we will put in place attractive incentives for people to invest in our economy and create well-paying jobs. We will fix our crumbling schools, roads, and hospitals. We will fix the electricity problem by taking advantage of the varying energy resources and needs in different parts of the country.
“We will address desertification, gully erosion and other lingering environmental challenges. We will wage a genuine war on corruption by instituting a better reward and punishment system, ensuring true independence of the anti-corruption agencies and the speedy trial of corruption cases”.
Though it’s still early to affirmatively say where the tide will go in the ruling party’s presidential primaries, the scheme is becoming very interesting and the grabbing of that ticket will be squarely based on proactivity and focused intelligent scheming from the contending camps.
Atiku’s approach of taking the campaign to the delegates was a very smart way of personalizing his appeal though Nigerians wait to see if the delegates would agree to join hin so that “Together, they can make good things happen for our people and our country”.