Conventionally in Nigeria, real political activities for the next general elections kick into full swing at the end of the second year of the statutory four-year term of a ruling government. And when they do, governance will be on lockdown. The political vultures usually looking for where to touchdown for their modest meals would have developed tremendous capacity to hover around and land anywhere they can feed their avarice.
Also, those who have previously been branded as baggage politically, and have thus been kept at arm’s length by those in control of power, would swiftly transform into the desirable brides being sought after by the powers that be. It is usually so because these so-called political burdens are proficient at solving, by hook or crook, curious political puzzles and winning elections in their domains of influence. Sadly, that is just politics according to the precept of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, it is far more unfortunate and frightening to note that President Muhammadu Buhari wittingly or unwittingly allowed this retrogressive practice to commence at the very early stage of his government of change.
The President’s unhelpful taciturnity towards the power-sharing feud that broke out amongst the top members of his All Progressives Congress (APC) party, particularly those at the two federal legislative chambers, has made politics overshadow governance from day one of this government. And this has spurred earnest and desperate moves for the 2019 general elections.
It is therefore trite to say that the rancour generated by the elections of senator Bukola Saraki and honourable Yabuku Dogora as the Nigerian senate president and speaker of the house of representatives respectively against the wish of the APC was a fallout of the president’s vaunted apolitical stance and the major event that signaled the shape of things to happen in the politics of 2019.
Expectedly, many of these discomforting political circumstances, coupled with the troubled economy and Buhari’s personal health challenges, have heightened secret talks and schemes on a suitable replacement for Buhari should he decide not to seek re-election in 2019.
Of course, every close observer knows that the “secrecy” about such political moves is just a little show of respect, or rather, borne out of fear of incurring the presidency’s wrath.
So whether it is just the usual wish of the unsolicited fans or a planned desire that is yet to be let out, some eyes are already being marked as stern lookers at the highest seat in the land. Thus their actions and inactions are deserving of examination to throw some light into the intrigues, power play and likely occurrences in the next elections. Similarly, a few entities apart from the traditional political players are also seen to be growing in fame or infamy.
That said, the actions of these elements will certainly be referenced, either for good or bad, in the annals of the coming elections.
Long before this time, the senate president, Saraki, put himself forward for the coveted presidential seat. And that’s why the insidious step which resulted in his emergence as the senate president was seen in many quarters as a prelude to his higher aspiration in 2019.
While Saraki may be carrying so many wounds following his encounters with different anti-graft agencies and allegations of malfeasance which may eventually overwhelm him, there is no doubt that he would have more than just a say in who becomes the next president. He remains a strong factor in the politics of now, and the years to come.
Forrmer governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is unarguably the foremost political strategist of this present time. He has, through his very profound understanding of the terrain, won many political battles and wooed legions of followers. And has, similarly, nursed injuries a few times.
He however recently drew an analogy between a player in the game of football and a tactical politician. He had opined that when a good player picked up an injury, he will pull himself back to get well, improve on training and return to best form. Perhaps reeling tongue-in-cheek, but the Jagaban of Borgu has suggested that if the opportunity presents itself, it will be a huge honour to give leadership at the topmost level in the country. Hence, presumably, Asiwaju would come out in a bigger form in 2019.
Again, governor of Kaduna state, Mallam El-rufai, ex-governors Sule Lamido and Rabiu Kwankwanso and former vice president Atiku Abubakar are among the regularly mentioned candidates for the big office out there.
Frankly, how some of these individuals are able to manage the current socio-political challenges (unfortunately, management of the economy is never a determinant) in their various states; and how the rest are able to rebrand themselves for national appeal, would only make them wield some measure of influence in the politics of 2019. But, it is certainly not a guarantee that such will push any of them forward as a desirable candidate in the present climate.
Of course, there is the party palaver. The centre can no longer hold in the two major political parties. It is evidently as bad for the APC as it is with the PDP. Therefore there will be an emergence of different parties and some splinters from the existing ones may come out with interesting nomenclatures like the Advanced People’s Democratic Party, Democratic All Progressives Congress amongst others.
On another end, forget all the feeble statements about the unrepentant rebel leader, Nnamdi Kanu, not representing the wish of the entire people of the East in his aggressive advocacy for an independent Biafra. The caliber of people that are presently paying visits to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in prison should tell anyone that Kanu has already secured a fantastic place in the political agenda of 2019.
Similarly, some Niger-Delta militant-entreprenuers have started to amplify their voices. As ever, the discourse on resource control and marginalisation of the region is a profitable political tool especially during elections, and the coming one wouldn’t be any different.
Definitely, there are numerous people and factors to be considered here but for the constraint of space.
Nonetheless, the new converts in town – the Osinbajo believers – are worthy of note. The performance of VP Osinbajo, who acted as Acting President during Buhari’s medical vacation, which was largely described as extraordinary, has made quite a number of people start mouthing an Osinbajo presidency.
Sadly, in the politics of Nigeria, performance doesn’t really matter. A candidate must be able to scale the hurdles of ethnicity, religion and other ridiculous considerations. By and large, it is 2019 already.