One week of campaigning. Another week to go. Half way the official race covered. It’s time for candidates to know the miracle won’t happen in the second week if it didn’t happen in the first.
By now, each candidate has weighed their odds against others. Within themselves, they know it though their euphoric supporters may still be fooled. At this stage, candidates can begin to face their truth.
If they can’t pull together now to hit the last week of campaigning with a storm, when shall that impact be felt if some of the heavyweight candidates waited till the last minute to do so?
A last minute alliance would fail to reach its desired goal if ballot papers of all candidates, including those of members of an eventual alliance are displayed at polling stations. With voters not sufficiently informed that certain topflight candidates would have desisted to support another, they may be fooled to cast wasted ballots. They may fool themselves (ignorance) as well as they may be fooled by vicious CPDM polling agents who are often present at the most polling stations or even by some pro-CPDM ELECAM agents. This has often been seen.
The opposition’s best chance is to have the fewest possible ballots of the most potential candidates in order not to have useful votes dispersed to the advantage of Biya, though as it stands, all nine candidates are officially candidates and when election results are declared, every vote cast for each of them will be counted.
Broad-based coalitions are ideally best before official campaigns kickoff, so that the group of sociopolitical heavyweights has enough time to hit the campaign trail with a full house, in full gear, demonstrating the full force (force of political alliance, maybe). Yet, falling short of that luxury from the kickoff, using one of the two weeks for official campaigns to showcase this force is also tactically better than a last-ditch effort only a couple of days to voting day or none at all.
This weekend, the candidates disposed to an electoral alliance against Paul Biya ought to be seen together on TV sets or perhaps at the now highly symbolic Stade Sicam in Douala, mobilizing voters to adopt their harmonized marching steps towards an upset victory.
Running for president means thinking (1.) that the incumbent has outlived his usefulness, (2.) considering oneself as better (best) fit for the job. As only one person can win an election at a time — either the incumbent is reelected or defeated by one of the challengers — each candidate may now be sizing up whether they fit in and must hold on to option 1 or option 2 above, that is, the candidate asks himself, Am I the one to bring the incumbent down or can I only contribute to his fall?
A third reason for running in a presidential race could be to position oneself (the candidate) or the party investing him for ulterior and future personal or collective gains.
There is a loud call for candidates to place the general good of multitudes of citizens’ desperate quest for change over personal or party calculations. Failing an opposition alliance and in the event of another victory by incumbent Paul Biya that opens the way for him to total 43 years as president of the republic, the masses seeking change are warning selfish candidates that history will not be lenient towards them for another missed opportunity. Fru Ndi and Ndam Njoya can testify to that.
*The author, Franklin Sone Bayen, is a journalist and political analyst