By Abdulwahab Oba
Just as I predicted, as we inch towards the end of 2017, seeing its taillight disappearing into the distance of time while the headlamp of 2018 appears glowing as it moves closer to us, the political landscape is becoming more active, and from the look of things, it may not relax until after we must have concluded the 2019 general elections.
That elections would be decisive for Nigeria, no doubt, because as it were, one of the major issues that would dominate the polity would be whether the ruling APC would face that poll as a united body or as a fragment of its present conglomeration of political blocks, and subsequently, whether President Muhammd Buhari would be re-nominated for the same post by the same party.
We still cannot say precisely what would happen, because politics, particularly Nigerian politics, is a very fluid system where anything can happen in the twinkle of an eye. Or how would someone have predicted that a Bola Tinubu, progressive leader from the South-West, would lead an ultra conservative Buhari from the core north, to form a government in Nigeria? Yet, it happened in 2015 despite all speculations that the arrangement was a fluke that would not see the light of the day. Or, how would one explain the implosion in the once acclaimed biggest party in Africa, the PDP. Or, how would a sitting president yearning for a re-election watch over such a division? Incredulous!
However, as a public commentator, I want to add my voice to the discussion on this crucial phase of our nation. And I would start with he issue of a Buhari re-election, because in the last few weeks, and precisely since the latest meeting of the APCs National Executive Committee, the issue of re-nominating the President for a second term has become more specific in public domain. As a matter of fact, some groups, numbering about 200 have come out to explain why they want Buhari again, and a key member of the administration, Hameed Ali, the retired Colonel and confidant of the President who heads the Customs Service, led the commissioning of an edifice belonging to Buhari Support Group, which Ali heads and the purpose of the project is nothing but to seek another term for Buhari.
For the avoidance of doubt, I’m a die hard admirer of President Buhari, and I made no presence about that. His incorruptibility is a rare trait of political gladiators.
The question is, is Buhari fit for a second term? There is no doubt that he is eligible; there is no doubt that if given the opportunity he will fly the partys flag and perform; there is no doubt that he remains a great brand for the ruling party. But in picking Buhari again, certain fundamentals would have to be examined and worked upon more strategically by the party and its core stakeholders.
The first is the internal incoherence of the party. I have written earlier about this and yet I have not seen significant change on the table. Many have not applauded the recent declaration by National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu that he remains on the same page with the President. If he had remained on the same page, that statement wouldnt have been necessary in the first instance and so there are many who still argue that the Lion of Burdillon is a wounded lion who has gone into his lair to recuperate and come out to fight. I think Asiwaju, like some other leaders of the party who committed their whole for the success of the APC at the poles, has every reason to be aggrieved.
And why would that be? It is because of the second issue at stake in the Buhari administration, to wit; the estrangement of many stakeholders and elevation of Buhari to a cult figure and the only anticorruption crusader in the government. As such today, Tinubu is feared to be estranged within the party. The same goes for ex-Vice President, Abubakar Atiku who has come out loudly to speak of his own frustration within the system. And but for the intervention of Buhari, or so it seems to me, Chief Odiegie Oyegun, National Chairman of the party would have been booted out of office last week, creating another layer of estranged members. Like the Hon. Speaker of the House of Representative said, as individuals, we can only go fast but not far. We can only go far collectively.
That the President promised only last week to look into Board appointments for his party members more than two years after taking over also points to estrangement of stakeholders and of course, the wrong internal configuration of the party. These are issues that must be well settled before the second term ticket debate hot up, otherwise many would feel they were used in 2015, dumped thereafter and now that a new term is in the offing, they are about to be used for election purpose again only to be dumped again; or so I think.
Only a fool would enjoy such attitude. And then, there is the issue of the National Assembly. True, the party started with a crisis after election; the issue of who becomes what in the National Assembly but my take is that since a leadership had emerged from the legislature, the president should have rallied the troop as the saying goes, around that leadership to ensure a smooth running of his administration in the true demonstration of the spirit of democracy; that the minority has its say but the majority always have its way.
It is nearly three years now and I doubt if the two bodies are not playing the ostrich for all of us in Nigeria; pretending that all is well when in reality there is a boiling cauldron between them. This too must be iron out well to ensure Buhari gets a sound second ticket, not a ticket that would disgrace his party with a defeat at the polls.
And then the final, but to me most crucial aspect of the issue at stake: No doubt Buhari has a credential as a key anti-corruption figure, but the truth is there are still several others like him across the nation and as such the elevation and near deification of the President on the issue is having a near negative effect on the success of the crusade itself. It is to me politically naive to continually present Buhari as the only saint in the APC, or even in Nigeria, when he has a lot of politicians surrounding him and whose help he needed and would still need to win an election. The APC of today must agree with the reality that basing its campaign on an anti-corruption in 2019 would offer far less help to winning the ticket than it did in 2015 because of the various dynamics we have seen, even from within the administration.
There is also the issue of the Presidents health which must not be dismissed with the wave of the hand. True, he is back on his feet and we are grateful to the Almighty for that recovery. But can this President still go round the country like before? Don’t we need a more vigorous individual? Has he found one? Why can’t he find one? Has he not built any that could take after him? Who is that person?
Hmmmm! May God guide our nation to the path of honour.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org