Connect with us
Advertise With Us

FEATURED

Endorsement: Socio-cultural, Political Groups And Their Impacts

Published

on


In this piece, EMAMEH GABRIEL examines the trend of endorsing presidential candidates by socio-cultural and political groups in the country and its impact on the outcome of the elections.

Before and after the return to democracy in 1999, there have been socio-cultural and political groups, who seek to protect the interests of the people they claim to represent within the context of Nigeria’s political space.

While they enjoy the support and cooperation of some Nigerians, not a few also see these groups as only championing personal causes of their leaders or members instead of a collective agenda. The list is endless. There is the Afenifere, ACF, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum, Southern People’s Assembly, PANDEF, and so on.

Afenifere was formed as a socio-cultural organization for the Yoruba people of Nigeria during the military era of 1990s. A majority of the Yorubas see the pressure group as a legitimate force that is both serving their interests and maintaining the waning influence of Yorubaland in the Federation. They consider it to be a necessary body to preserve the ethnic identity of the Yorubas. Although others differ.

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) is a political and cultural association of leaders in Northern Nigeria formed in 2000, which has considerable influence in the political scene.

ACF originated from a meeting held on March 7, 2000 in Kaduna at the instance of the then Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido. The purpose was to establish unity of Northern leaders, working through elected officials to achieve progress in the northern part of the country within the democratic framework.

For its part, Ohanaeze Ndigbo is an apex Igbo socio-cultural group in Nigeria founded in 1976. The group represents all Igbo communities within and outside Nigeria. Although the group is not a political party, part of its objectives of creation is to foster unity among its members in order to better allow them to be represented within the political scenario of Nigeria.

Although it is widely believed that most socio-cultural or political groups in Nigeria have been extensively politicised or deviated from their cardinal objectives, this however does not rule out their influence and significance in the political scene to an extent.

Before Nigeria’s independence in the early 1950s, there were cultural groups, who chose men of impeccable character to represent their localities, though their influence was limited to their immediate constituency. This today, is in slight contrast with the regional influence the present socio-cultural groups in Nigeria exert.

Just like in the 2015 general elections, with contestants and their political parties showing so much anxiety in an attempt at outwitting one another, the romance with socio-cultural groups by political gladiators who continue to employ all sorts of tactics and programmes at winning the confidence of the electorate, the relevance or otherwise of these various groups is once again being brought to the fore as tje 2019 elections draw near.

The drums for the 2019 presidential election have been rolled out, with the two major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) going for each other’s necks, hence it is difficult for any political analyst to predict accurately who will emerge winner of next year’s presidential election.

It is therefore against this backdrop that the candidates of the major political parties have been falling over themselves, either in directly or by proxy, to get the endorsement of prominent socio-cultural and political groups in the country.

There are hundreds of pressure groups who add their voice daily to public discourse and they have been able to put pressure on government to advance their own interests but only a few notable among them have been able to wield such influence on national matters.

For instance, Ohanaeze Ndigbo played a key role in winning the entire South-East states for former President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 and 2015 general elections, though the outcome of the latter election went the other way in favour of the opposition.

The group, has since after its creation in 1976 continued to serve as clearing house in matters affecting the interests and welfare of the Igbos, both at home and in diaspora

The intent to retain the presidency in the South-South, which by geographical affiliation would have better serve the interest of the South-East, was the major reason Ohanaeze Ndigbo gave Jonathan a pat on the back in 2015 and the entire South-East and South-South were delivered to the PDP in the presidential election.

Contrary to what transpired in 2011 and 2015 when the Igbo spoke with one voice on the endorsement of the erstwhile President Jonathan, there seems to be a division among the Ndigbo leaders currently following a recent endorsement of PDP’s Atiku Abubakar on his recent visit to the South-East.

However, the endorsement was controverted by another group of Igbo leaders, who described the move as premature and political.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who recently received a delegation of South-East governors and subsequently another South-East political leaders led by the national chairman of UPP, Chekwas Okorie and Engineer Emeka Ekwousu, is playing his card very close to the chest, building the confidence of the Ndigbo gradually to have their endorsement.

President Buhari had described the endorsement of Atiku by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo as a inconsequential, saying he was advised by well-meaning leaders from the South-East to disregard the endorsement.

The ACF which has rather chosen to remain apolitical in 2019 presidential election also played a significant role in the quest to return power to the North in 2015. The group is unarguably the most influential group in Northern Nigeria and its core objective is to protect the interest of Northern Nigeria, promote healthy co-existence that will sustain the environmental quality, liveability, and economic vibrancy of the whole region.

Although ACF prides itself as a pressure group that strengthens democracy and brings the North together, criticisms have always trailed their policies and stand which many had said are hinged on only advancing the interests of the core Hausa/Fulani states.

However, in the next year’s presidential election, leaders of the group have chosen to remain neutral given that the two major presidential candidates for the election are from the North.

This decision will no doubt have effect on the ruling APC whose candidate’s chances in the North in was boosted by ACF’s endorsement in 2015. What this entails is that, it gives the room for a more robust and competitive campaigns from both candidates. Hence, it is not going to be a one-way traffic for Buhari the way it was in 2015.

Meanwhile, the endorsement bug is tearing another political pressure group, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) apart.

There were indications yesterday that the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari may have torn the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) apart ahead of the 2019 presidential poll.

While a faction of the forum led by its deputy convener for Northwest, Sani Zangon Daura (Danmasanin Daura); deputy convener for Northeast, Major General Paul Tarfa and director of Logistics, Captain Bashir Sodangi endorsed the president for 2019, the forum’s convener, Prof Ango Abdullahi, said the Northern elders were still assessing the presidential candidates and are yet to decide on who to support.

Abdullahi told LEADERSHIP in telephone chat last night that Daura, Tarfa and Sodangi cannot speak for the forum, noting that there was never a time the forum endorsed Buhari for 2019.

In a statement they jointly signed, Daura, Tarfa and Sodangi dismissed a statement earlier issued by Ango Abdullahi suggesting that the forum was searching for Buhari’s replacement in the North.

While a faction of the forum led by its deputy convener for Northwest, Sani Zangon Daura (Danmasanin Daura); deputy convener for Northeast, Major General Paul Tarfa and director of Logistics, Captain Bashir Sodangi endorsed the president for 2019, the forum’s convener, Prof Ango Abdullahi, said the Northern elders were still assessing the presidential candidates and are yet to decide on who to support.

Abdullahi told LEADERSHIP in telephone chat last night that Daura, Tarfa and Sodangi cannot speak for the forum, noting that there was never a time the forum endorsed Buhari for 2019.

In a statement jointly signed by the trio, Daura, Tarfa and Sodangi dismissed a statement earlier issued by Ango Abdullahi suggesting that the forum was searching for Buhari’s replacement in the North.

The Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, has also endorsed Atiku like the Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The group hinged its choice of Atiku on the candidate’s promise to restructure Nigeria.

It will be recalled that Afenifere endorsed former president Jonathan’s second term bid in 2015, though their voice couldn’t make any difference as President Buhari won virtually all the states in the South-West apart from Ekiti state.

The Odua People’s Congress (OPC) like Ohaenaze in 2015 threw its weight behind Jonathan. The OPC is a Yoruba-based organization formed to actualise the annulled mandate of the late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winnner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

Although the group has not come out to endorse any presidential candidate between Buhari and Atiku, its leadership had commended President Buhari after the recognition of the late MKO Abiola as winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.

 

 

Gani Adams, the Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land and National Coordinator of the body had said the president did the unthinkable by honouring the late Yoruba icon.

While some have seen the Abiola Honour as political, there are clear indications that the OPC may in the weeks to come make its stand public on who to support and the odds is more likely to go in favour of the ruling party whose candidate has made their dreams a reality. Thus, Buhari stands the chance of a boosted image in the South-West.



Copyright LEADERSHIP.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from LEADERSHIP Nigeria Newspapers. Contact: editor@leadership.ng







Advertisement

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

MOST POPULAR