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2015: Other options aside from Jonathan, Buhari

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Apart from President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party and Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) of the All Progressives Party, little has been said about other candidates for the 2015 presidential election, writes Gbenro Adeoye

With less than two months to the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria, public discussions hardly veer too far from politics, and particularly the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, President Goodluck Jonathan, and that of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd).

It is indeed an interesting time in the country’s history and social media enthusiasts can attest to the silent war going on between supporters of the two parties or candidates, who have been using the platform to argue, insult and curse, all in a bid to outdo their perceived political opponents.

The trend continues as if the public is unaware of the other nine presidential candidates as it has been fixated on the candidates of the PDP and the APC.

Although the Independent National Electoral Commission recently released the names of all the presidential candidates and their running mates as submitted by 11 of the 26 registered parties in the country, the release of the list has failed to shift discussions from Jonathan and Buhari.

In fact, some members of the public played down the chances of the other nine candidates in the presidential contest.

Going by the information provided by INEC, the parties with the candidates to vie for the positions of president and vice-president on February 14, 2015 are: PDP, Jonathan and his vice, Namadi Sambo; APC, Buhari and his running mate, Yemi Osinbajo; KOWA Party, Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya and Saidu Bobboi; Hope Democratic Party, Ambrose Albert and Haruna Shaba; and Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Ganiyu Galadima and Balarabe Ahmed.

Others are Alliance for Democracy, Rafiu Salau and Clinton Cliff Akuchie; United Democratic Party, Godson Okoye and Haruna Adamu; African Democratic Congress, Nani Ibrahim Ahmad and Obianuju Murphy-Uzohue; National Conscience Party, Martin Onovo and Ibrahim Mohammed; Action Alliance, Tunde Anifowoshe-Kelani and Paul Ishaka Ofomile; and United Progressive Party, Chekwas Okorie and Bello Umar.

Labour Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance will not be fielding candidates as both parties have adopted Jonathan as their presidential candidate.

Interestingly, some of the other nine candidates have come to the contest with impressive resumes.

One of such candidates is Sonaiya, 59, the only woman in the contest. She is a professor of French and Applied Linguistics and a former lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.

In 2008, Sonaiya was named an International Ambassador Scientist of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the first Nigerian to be appointed in the position she occupied between 2008 and 2014. Until recently, she was the National Public Relations Officer of her party.

KOWA was registered as a political party on July 16, 2009, by a group of Nigerian civil society activists, professionals and technocrats.

Sonaiya was a blogger for NEXT Newspaper until it stopped publishing and she is presently a columnist withThe Niche, a Nigerian weekly newspaper. She is a Christian, who described herself as a true representative of the people.

“I am running based on the strong conviction that somebody needed to do this – I mean somebody ordinary, a true representative of the people,” she said in her mission statement.

If Sonaiya wins the election, she will become the first Nigerian female President.

The NCP presidential candidate, Onovo, also comes to the contest with a remarkable resume. Onovo is a renowned petroleum engineer and a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.

He is also the national leader of the Strategic Union of Professionals for the Advancement of Nigeria. Onovo is often featured on TV programmes where he analyses the oil-dependent Nigerian economy and offers advice on how the country could make its economy more vibrant.

Onovo supported the protesting Nigerian public during the demonstrations that greeted the removal of oil subsidy by the Federal Government in 2012. He accused the government of failing to deal with corruption in the oil sector.

Incidentally, NCP was founded by the late legal luminary and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, in 1994.

Speaking about the upcoming election, Onovo said he is confident of the NCP victory.

Recently at the NCP’s headquarters in Abuja, Onovo said the party would fulfil its “10-Care” programme, which includes solving problems of employment, food, health, housing, education, water, electricity and security.

He said, “Our NCP government will reduce fuel price by improved domestic crude oil refining. We will increase minimum wage by reducing maximum wage, while maintaining the total wage bill. We will use about $9bn to double power generation, transmission and distribution in two and half years. We have a robust plan to take over power from Jonathan in 2015.

“On security, we will improve intelligence, surveillance, response time and capacity. We will restore the pride and the effectiveness of our armed forces. We will robustly confront and expel Boko Haram from our territory if they do not surrender after a stern warning. We will correct the social weaknesses that result from bad governance that had led to the Boko Haram insurgency and increased crime rate all over Nigeria.”

NCP National Chairman, Dr. Yinusa Tanko, who also expressed confidence in his party’s chances in winning the presidential poll, said the experience of Nigerians since May 1999 had been a governance that is in the interest of politicians alone and not of the people.

He said, “The NCP, if given the opportunity by voters, will go on an aggressive employment drive through training and retraining of our citizens and make sure that our youths are employable.”

Okoye emerged as the UDP presidential candidate at the party’s national convention held in Owerri, Imo State.

He promised to ensure rapid economic growth of Nigeria if elected president in February.

Okoye also promised to tackle the country’s security challenge by reducing poverty.

He said, “Nigeria has passed through several momentous stages in her march towards statehood, but none will be as strategic, challenging and significant as the 2015 general elections because any government that will emerge from that elections must be rich in people-oriented ideology and completely aligned to the patriotic effort of Nigerians for it to be accountable and transparent.

“My vision is to make Nigeria secure and prosperous through effective governance to overcome our current educational, security and power problems. My goal will be to create jobs for all those who want to work and economic opportunity for all those who want to achieve.”

The AD presidential candidate, Salau, described himself as the best among his co-contestants.

He specifically said he was better than Jonathan and Buhari.

Salau said, “I know the solutions to the nation’s problems. I know the type of economy Nigeria needs to survive and succeed. I know how to make our nation be the first in Africa,” he said confidently.

To expand the economy, 30 per cent of the oil revenue shall be used for capital projects for development of businesses that will ensure economic growth.

“The population of unemployed Nigerians is more than many developed countries. To solve the problem of unemployment in Nigeria, every state shall have industrial city. And a state shall be created for the unemployed Nigerians. Developing the economy of the state will create jobs for them.”

Okorie emerged his party’s presidential candidate at its national convention held in Aba, the commercial city of Abia State.

He co-founded the party after his departure from APGA and as an influential chief in Abia and a bosom friend of late Biafra leader, Odimegwu Ojukwu, Okorie’s popularity in the South-East is expected to get him a good number of votes in the region.

He immediately warned the PDP and the APC that UPP had come to upstage them from their positions as the most dominant parties in the country.

“From today, the political equation of Nigeria has changed,” Okorie said.

He described the contest as a battle between “the progressive forces represented by UPP and the reactionary forces represented by PDP and APC.”

Describing the PDP and the APC as “full of recycled deceitful politicians,” Okorie promised Nigerians that UPP would provide good governance for them, if elected.

Action Alliance is also confident of victory at the poll. Its presidential candidate, Anifowose-Kelani, who is the Managing Director and Chairman of Siegener Sabithos Nigeria Limited, a provider of secretarial services, communication services, support, training, counselling and courier services in and outside the country, holds a bachelor degree in personnel psychology and counselling. He also has a Master’s degree in personnel psychology.

Galadima was ratified as the ACPN presidential candidate by the party’s delegates in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The party once moved for the prosecution of Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, who it believed had been canvassing votes for Jonathan against the dictates of the electoral law.

Galadima is hopeful that he will “end impunity in Nigeria,” if elected president.

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