Friday, 14 January 2011

Nigeria: The Historic PDP Presidential Primaries

This is the contest

There are reasons why I have concluded that the nominated candidate of the ruling party would be the next elected president of Nigeria.

So far, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be the only party that has properly extended its representation across the country, either by winning or usurping representation in the gubernatorial or legislative arms of the government.

In any case, it was such a privilege to be part of an international audience that drew in Nigerians at home and as far afield as Australia and the United States to those of us in Europe as we monitored the presidential primaries of ruling party which at 3:45AM CET still had a good few states to be counted.

Africa time commencements

The PDP convention itself took on an African time dimension, it was to kick off at 10:00 prompt, but prompted or promptly is never to be believed, it was at least 5 hours on before things got into a motion.

Some rogue court had placed an injunction on the chairman of the ruling party preventing him from operating in that capacity; at some stage the chairman delegated his functions to his deputy which ended it with the convention presumably being declared open twice.

The presidential candidates gave their speeches with the supposed consensus candidate from North going on about the zoning policy which for all intents and purposes was technically torn up when President Yar’Adua yielded to the forces of mortality.

After the speeches the voting went smoothly with each delegate posting their hand-written ballots in to the ballot boxes of their respective states.

The count and the audience

The count started just before midnight and many have been burning the midnight oil witnessing an historic moment where votes have been cast and they are publicly counted without opportunists taking advantage of subverting the will of the delegates.

Bringing together Twitter, Facebook, video streams from Nigeria Connect (good audio) and Channels TV (good video) and news lines from 234Next, the eyes of the world have gazed on what is possible with Nigerian democracy.

This experience needs to be extrapolated to the real national voting exercise in April, I wonder if the Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS technologies can be deployed in the polling centres and enumeration centres to keep an eye on the will of the people gathering actionable evidence against those who try to subvert our democracy.

The party for all

One can only commend the foreign correspondents that have committed to staying to the very end until the final count is done and certified with a nominated candidate.

The trend as it seems is showing the incumbent president as the consensus candidate for the whole of Nigeria, he even took his opponent’s home state with 71% of the delegates – such is his appeal.

The sole female candidate seems to have only managed to get her own singular vote counted.

For a review of the Twitter feed of the PDP Primaries can be access on the hash tag #PDPPrimary or #PDPPrimaries which has more results.