It is no longer news that President Muhammadu Buhari will be standing for the February 2019 presidential election. And as much as many Nigerians may say the president has underperformed in the past three years, the president and his team believe another term will be an opportunity to do more.
In the last two weeks, we carefully observed those members of the Buhari team, who will deny him a second term. We highlighted Rochas Okorocha, the governor of Imo state; Ibrahim Idris, the inspector general of police, who has supervised many unforced errors in the life of this administration. In the same breath, we saw how much damage Buhari’s media team and his appointed attorney general will do to his re-election bid.
In the midst of all these, there are still men and women in the Buhari administration, who can lend credence to the president’s re-election bid, and those shining lights, are our focus today. So, here is an incomplete list of the men and women who will grace Buhari a chance at re-election.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall define the run of play. A few weeks ago, President Buhari finally acknowledged that his party was not in order, and appointed Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos, as the peacemaker, who should reconcile warring parties and aggrieved members. If Tinubu succeeds, Buhari gets a better chance at victory come 2019. But if he fails, the president will have members of his own party working against him in 2019.
Beyond his reconciliatory role, Tinubu is very important to the victory strategy of the All Progressive Congress (APC). His wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, said on Monday, that her husband was used and trashed by the presidency after the 2015 elections. If the former governor feels the same way about 2015, he may not be putting his neck on the line for the president come 2019.
As the prime political juggernaut from the southwest, Tinubu’s stance on 2019 will be critical for Buhari’s victory.
Yemi Osinbajo today, is arguably the most admired member of the Buhari administration. As acting president, he showed the country, what leadership looks like. He spoke with so much intellectual strength and passion; he inspired hope and drove the economy through turbulent 2017, while the president was ill and away in London. He executed reforms via historic executive orders.
Besides his admired leadership, Osinbajo, as a pastor with the largest church in Nigeria, The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), also brings numbers to the table.
There have been rumours that Osinbajo could be replaced as Buhari’s running mate. But the politics of today, suggests that removing Osinbajo from the ticket will do more harm than good to Buhari’s re-election hopes.
Aliko Dangote/ Ibe Kachikwu
When Nigerians say Buhari has failed, they say so for three reasons; 1. Herdsmen killings across the nation, especially in Benue. 2. Massive unemployment and the economic slump in the early days of his admin. 3. Fuel scarcity.
Fuel scarcity typically shuts down the economy, and brews public rage, as was the case last Christmas. If Aliko Dangote through his refinery project or Ibe Kachikwu, in his capacity as minister of state for petroleum resources, solve this problem for the long term, before the 2019 elections, then Buhari’s chances are brighter.
This is very unlikely to happen, considering the calendar for the delivery of Dangote refinery, and how “handicapped” Kachikwu has been with Nigeria’s refineries, but if things change in good time, Buhari’s administration may just have a messiah in Africa’s richest man or the former ExxonMobil boss.
You may not know who Jumoke Oduwole by name to face, but you cannot deny her works when you see them. The UNILAG, Cambridge and Stanford graduate is the senior special assistant to the president on industry, trade, and investment, and also the coordinator of the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES).
Based on her works in the office of the vice president, Nigeria leaped 24 places on the World Bank ease of doing business rankings, placing the country as one of the most improved places for doing business in the world. What EBES is doing under the leadership of Oduwole is another reason to believe in Buhari’s administration come 2019.
Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, is one of the most controversial Nigerians around. Hate him or love him, el-Rufai is also one of the best performing governors in this dispensation. As a staunch Buhari loyalist with an enviable education, el-Rufai can deliver Kaduna without recklessly promising five million votes like his counterpart from Kano state.
Asides bringing numbers to the table, el-Rufai, as the chairman of the APC restructuring committee, wields so much influence on the direction of this government as it concerns the restructuring debate. If Buhari must win again, he would need to yield some ground on restructuring, and el-Rufai is needed in making this happen.
The Buhari media team has failed in maintaining the highly-admired image of the president as seen in 2015. From one error to the other, Buhari’s media team has done so much damage to his public perception. However, one man has consistently kept powerful images of the president in the minds of a majority of the electorate, and that man is Bayo Omoboriowo, the president’s personal photographer.
When the president was ill and frail, Omoboriowo still managed some happy pictures that kept hope alive. I do not think any presidential photographer in the history of this nation has managed to keep his or her principal in such glowing lights through tough times.
Many Nigerians joke that Bayo, as he is fondly called, is the best performing minister in Buhari’s cabinet. Those powerful images from Kano, Nasarawa and now Adamawa, have subtle ways of making a messiah out of the president.
THE YOUTHS OF YIAGA
The Not Too Young To Run bill has scaled in 24 of 36 states, and now awaits presidential assent. This is an opportunity for Buhari to go down in history as the president who let young people get into governance in Nigeria, and that should cost him a swipe of the pen at a calculated time, coupled with deliberate follow up.
Buhari could sign this bill into law, meet and liaise with the young minds who made it happen, make a strategic case for young people in power, and watch these young minds support him the same way they made the bill come to life. When it comes to politics, being an opportunist may not be so bad after all.
Mr. President, the ball is in your court.
Reach Tijani across major social media platforms @OluwamayowaTJ