By Abdulrahman Abubakar
The political atmosphere of Nigeria is brewing as this early in 2018 in what promised to be activity-laden year for politicians and political parties. Parties are beginning to put their house in order in preparation for what is believed to be a tough but interesting political contest in 2019.
The success of the December 8 2017 PDP convention and the emergence of an elected National Working Committee under the leadership of prince Uche secondus has prompted the ruling Apc to start making arrangements for its national convention with the recent declaration by the party that its national convention comes up in June this year. Here i look at the principal actors in contemporary Nigeria political space in anticipation of 2019.
The first 3 years of president Muhammadu Buhari divide opinion among Nigerians, politicians and pundits alike. But whichever way one look at it, one thing is certain; the president have performed underwhelmingly below expectations comparatively to what was promised to Nigerians.
The administration of Buhari have its own success stories but the recent upsurge in the activities of herdsmen in some states and the evergreen economic hardship in the land is rendering his efforts in anti-corruption war and on security rather fruitless.
Though the president is yet to declare interest to contest in 2019, his body language and the activities of some of his comrades is pointing to the fact that the president will seek re-election. But why is Buhari yet to declare interest? Is it not yet time or is he afraid of what he is going to get in 2019 because of the unending allegations against his government?
One advantage the president has is his unwavering cult-like followership among the northern electorates who refused to give up hope in the president despite his shortcomings. Is Buhari afraid of 2019? Only time will tell.
A master political strategist and a robust grass root mobilizer, a leader of the Apc in his own right. It is hard to read the mind of the lion of Bourdilon but as things stand, he must be making in-depth calculations ahead of 2019. He is never short of political sagacity. Tinubu’s recent visit to Buhari and recent comments by Tunde Rahman his spokesman have indicated that the Jagaban is still with Buhari as far as the president show interest to run in 2019.
Tinubu is lying low only waiting for the right time to charge, though he has refused to publicly endorse Buhari, it is widely believed that he will support the president with the promise that the north will reciprocate to the southwest in 2023 when power turns south.
The major opposition, the PDP crossed the first hurdle of the squabble of leadership tussle between the Makarfi faction and the Ali Modu sherrif faction, with the triumph of the Makarfi faction at the Supreme Court. The second hurdle crossed by the PDP was the conduct of the national convention on December 8 2017 with the emergence of an elected NWC under Price Uche Secondus. More hurdles are sure to come but the most anticipated and most challenging hurdle will be the presidential primary election which will determine who get the ticket of the party to slug it out with the Apc’s candidate non February 16 2019. Will it be Atiku? Sule Lamido? Or the younger and most vibrant Dankwambo of Gombe state? Only time will tell but whoever gets the ticket, the challenge the PDP pose to the Apc is formidable and cannot be wished away.
The ruling party, Apc need to do a lot of housekeeping and reconciliation. The party need to reach out to perceived aggrieved members who feel used and dumped or rather betrayed. The recent defection of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar back to PDP is a big blow to the Apc but it will be even more disastrous when more members follow him out of the Apc to PDP or any other political party.
Apart from reconciliation, the Apc need to organize a national convention to calm frayed nerves and douse the suspense of elongating the tenure of Oyegun’s le NWC to 2019 by some party pessimists. Free and fair primary elections are one thing that the Apc cannot afford to fail to offer, lest they are blowing away their chances and pushing further members out of the party. The Apc need to do everything humanly possible to keep people like Kwankwaso, Saraki, Danjuma Goje, Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani and their likes who were treated like outcasts in the party. Allowing them to move out will deal a mortal blow to the chances of Apc because these chieftains are the ‘‘spoilers’’ in Nigeria politics today and can do a job for any given political party.
The 2019 general elections is still 13 months away but the political atmosphere is becoming tensed with each passing month. One thing is certain in Nigerian politics; alignment and realignment of forces, negotiations and backstabbing will p-lay a major role on who gets what in 2019. The politicians and political parties may be preparing for the epic battle but the masses too need to start preparation in the earnest, voter registration for those that doesn’t have PVC’s or those who now attain 18 years of voting is necessary. Political orientation need to be far-reaching to the rural areas, evaluating each politician and political party should be based on performance, track-records and accomplishments of promises not religious, ethnic or sectional sentiments.
In 2019, the masses holds the highest ace of determining WHO GETS WHAT, WHEN AND HOW but only when we register and have our PVC’s.
Abdulrahman Abubakar is a political scienties.
Criticisms and suggestions are also welcome.