Uganda is not Nigeria, NRM Will Easily Win Elections

By Ofwono Opondo

April, 2, 15

Last week’s elections in Nigeria where President Goodluck Jonathan was defeated by former short-lived military ruler Gen. (rtd)  Muhammadu Buhari, 72, has got some opposition elements in Uganda liven-up , with some ‘analysts’ now saying a similar change will be possible here in the forthcoming elections. Of course contrary to the current pseudo populist views, it is actually possible to change government including the president through peaceful, legal and democratic means in Uganda, but that is only if the sitting government is thoroughly hopeless and not meeting the critical needs of the people, and the opposition is well organised, provides leadership, articulates real issues and therefore seen as a viable alternative.
And as well the Uganda Electoral Commission (EC) mid this week published the 2015-16 election roadmaps which should have drawn excitement, but has instead enlisted scorn and skepticism from the opposition who now claim they are not ready because the much hyped “electoral reforms,” haven’t taken place. Although many analysts believe some reforms may be necessary it is being used as scapegoat to explain away opposition eventual loss.
Personally, I believe the two situations are not easily incomparable because here NRM under Yoweri Museveni’s leadership is one strong unit and the population is fairly satisfied that a good job is being done re-building Uganda and there is stronger visible hope that we are moving towards prosperity. Instead in Uganda, it is the opposition that is crumbling mainly because they unable to provide good leadership even from among themselves.
In Uganda, Museveni and NRM have rebuilt the state and its various institutions to necessary capabilities to withstand shocks, including defeating terrorism which had become both a military and criminal threat to our daily lives and economic progress. And as such the centre of gravity has now shifted to good governance, and proper and effective management of the national economy to create opportunities to all.
Yet the first lesson from Nigeria is that the sitting government of Jonathan had become a lame-duck especially in the face of the Islamist Boko Haram insurgents who have sowed mayhem in the north, caused widespread horror and disappointment across the country and globally.
Secondly there is widespread disillusionment with the grand corruption seen as endemic in government and corporate circles, and Jonathan is has been construed  as complicit especially when he adamantly refused to declared his personal wealth as required under the Nigerian laws.
Thirdly, as a result of the above, Jonathan lost internal control of both his political party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), leading to massive defection including sixteen incumbent state governors, and his mentor and backer former president and strongman Gen. (rtd) Olusegun Obasanjo who in disgust with Jonathan’s incompetence tore up his PDP party card in front of the cameras.
And, so, this lame-duck president was facing Buhari who is not a quitter, and whose strict military discipline against wastage, laziness, and corruption during the twenty months of his presidency from January 1984 until August 1985, evoked nostalgic feelings which apparently many Nigerians yearned for.
Buhari is still remembered as the tough military commander who in 1983 blockaded and chased away the Chadian military invaders who had annexed Nigerian islands on Lake Chad. Those islands in the north-east are today some of Boko Harem’s stronghold, and he has refused to be drawn into negotiations with the Islamists. Many Nigerians feel Buhari’s military background and disciplinarian credentials are what their country needs to deal with the political malaise there.
Facing Jonathan from the southern Niger Delta region for the second time, this time round Buhari was running under a united opposition, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
While PDP is fractured. Buhari who was making his third attempt had lost to Umar Yar Adua in 2003. Buhari this time had the advantage of being the candidate of a united opposition APC grouping, which attracted heavyweight defectors from Jonathan's PDP, which has dominated the Nigeria’s political scene since the end of military rule in 1999.
While some may see him as a ruthless former military leader, Buhari retains a rare reputation for honesty among Nigeria's politicians, both military and civilian mired in endemic corruption, largely because of the legacy of the 1980s when he publicly frog-matched indiscipline public servants.
According to Buhari in an interview he gave in 2005, “military rule was absolutely necessary in Nigeria because the elected civilians had failed the people. It is up to the people. If you choose correct leadership, there won't be any need for the military regime.” In fact Obasanjo in his autobiography last year described Buhari thus "he would not be a good economic manager but will certainly be a strong, almost inflexible, and a courageous and firm leader," which considered against the public rebuke he gave to Jonathan was seen as an endorsement for Buhari.
Nigeria, although the largest country by size, population and economy on the African continent was gradually being seen as becoming a failed state only on account of failing to handle Boko Haram, and now having to rely on much smaller and even weaker regional neighbours Niger, and Chad. As the old English adage goes, the proof of the pudding is the tasting, our elections are now around the corner, and so the NRM and Museveni will prove the naysayers very wrong.