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Cover Story Nigeria

Right: Muhammadu Buhari, candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Far right: a poster in Abuja encouraging people to take part in voters’ registration

In the meantime, party stalwarts are hoping the olive branch

offered to Atiku by President Jonathan, as he called for “dialogue” to resolve the PDP’s internal squabbles, will eventually heal the rift between the two political heavyweights. And the level of discord in the self-styled “largest political

party in Africa” cuts across the political spectrum, especially at the federal and state legislative levels. Te overwhelming major- ity of sitting PDP senators in the National Assembly failed to get the party’s nod to contest the polls. Tose determined to fight their cause within the party con-

tested their primary results, with varying degrees of success, whilst others disenchanted with the PDP opted for supposedly greener pastures in other parties, with many planning to return to the PDP once they win elections on the back of other platforms. What is not in dispute however is the fact that the group of

36 state governors remains a strong – if not the most powerful – single political block in the current dispensation. It is no secret that in order to smooth his passage to the PDP

presidential nomination, Jonathan had to enter a deal with the PDP governors, in which they were guaranteed the automatic right to seek second terms of office, in exchange for standing solidly behind Jonathan’s presidential campaign. Most sitting governors in the country desirous of a second

term of office, whether in the PDP, the Action Congress of Ni- geria (ACN) or the smaller parties, managed, through fair or foul means, to get their wish. And those governors that have served the maximum two terms

of eight years, like Kwara State’s Bukola Saraki and Ogun State’s Gbenga Daniel, are looking forward to winning seats in the Nigerian Senate in Abuja, whilst working for their handpicked candidates to succeed them, increasing their chances of maintain- ing political relevance and influence in their states. Bukola Saraki’s case is a particularly interesting one, as he has

refused to support the quest of Gbemisola, his sister, to replace him as Kwara State governor, opting for another candidate instead. Tat put him on a collision course with Dr Olusola Saraki,

his father, the Senate majority leader during the government of President Shehu Shagari in the 1980s. Acknowledged as the godfather of politics in the northern

Nigerian state, who played a central role in the political career of Bukola, Dr Olusola Saraki appears bent on establishing a fam- ily political dynasty, as he has vowed to support his daughter’s ambition, despite Bukola’s protestations. Te elder Saraki’s decision has caused a deep political and

personal rift with his son, as Bukola’s PDP will now square up against the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), under whose banner Gbemisola will contest the gubernatorial poll. “I want to ask all of you to please help me to pray to God to

bring my son back to me,” the elder Saraki said recently, ignoring the fact that his belief in the family’s divine right to rule the state, which goes against all democratic norms, is largely responsible for the family rift.

22 | March 2011 New African How the family plans to reconcile, after what will be a bitterly

contested election in Kwara, promises to be one of the major soap operas in Nigerian politics. Stay tuned to New African.

Other parties’ troubles While the PDP has never been a paragon of democratic virtue, both in its primaries and at general elections, it would amount to the proverbial pot calling the kettle black should their political opponents persist in their “holier than thou” attitude. Te decision of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to

jettison political primaries in some states, especially in certain areas of Ekiti State, did little for the credibility of an organisation that touts itself as the alternative party of central government. Not just content with being a major power player in his party,

Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State, has three members of his family contesting for seats in the federal and state legislature. Oluremi, his wife, is the ACN’s senatorial can- didate for the Lagos Central senatorial district, whilst Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, his daughter, clinched the ticket to run for the Federal House of Representatives seat in Agege. And Oye- tunde Ojo, his son in-law, is contesting a Lagos State House of Assembly seat. And it is only marginally better in neighbouring Ogun State, where Olumide Osoba, son of the former state

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