(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) -The recent declaration of Bashir Ahmed, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Assistant on New Media that Buhari will defeat in 2019 all the aspirants from the north who are jostling for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential ticket in their respective states has been seen by a cross section of Nigerians as presumptuous, while some believe the presidential aide was merely stating the obvious.
Not many citizens would have taken the comment seriously if it was made by the regular self serving Nigerian politician. However, coming from a presidential aide means that the comment could be a true reflection of the current thinking of the president, and so should be of interest to all Nigerians.
The statement of Bashir Ahmed reminds one of the proverbial story of a stone throwing blind man. The message is that one should never take the threat of a blind man lightly as one of his feet might just be on a stone, and which he can readily use to make good his threat.
Relating this story to the subject matter, we are inclined to believe, going by the statement of Mr. Ahmed that the presidency might have seen through the 2019 presidential election as fait accompli, that is, a settled matter. It also gives the impression that necessary structures have been put in place to ensure the landslide victory for the president and his party in 2019.
In one of his reflections, Edward Cornish was reported as saying that: “The future does not just happen to us; we create it by what we do and what we fail to do. It is we who are making tomorrow what tomorrow will be”.
Drawing from this wise saying, one can conclude that it is in the hands of President Buhari to determine how his tomorrow will be because whatever he has done, and all those things that he failed to do will be the ultimate determinant of his fate in 2019. Drawing from this premise therefore, we disagree with the position of Nedu Ekeke, who was reported as saying that:
“ 2019 election won’t be determined by how well or not Buhari has performed in his first four years. It will be decided by the mob that still believes he is a messiah. Those ones don’t know that incompetence is worse than corruption. They can’t draw a nexus between his failures and the hardship we face.”
If Mr. Ekeke had made this observation in 2015, there would probably have been sufficient reasons to agree with him, especially against the background that the north desperately wanted power. The feeling at the time was without prejudice to political party affiliations.
Besides, Western powers appeared to be disposed to leadership change in Nigeria at the time because of alleged high corruption perception index under Jonathan, and other reasons. Juxtapose the gang up with President Jonathan’s insistence that he will not want any Nigerian to die because of his political ambition, you will see that the antecedent conditions that made Buhari’s victory possible in 2015 no longer exists. Buhari, if he is re-contesting will have to contend with a fellow northerner, who is likely going to be a Muslim also.
In his second coming, expectations were high both locally and internationally that the administration of Muhammadu Buhari will wipe out corruption in Nigeria and come out with policies and programmes that will grow the economy. Unfortunately, close to three years on, much more are being said than done in the fight against corruption. The exercise has been largely described as a weapon of intimidation against political opponents, and a campaign that has been lacking in corresponding verifiable lawful convictions.
No doubt, there is hunger in the land and many Nigerians are angry. There also appears to be a new found boldness among Fulani herdsmen who go about killing unarmed citizens in their homes and farms with impunity, especially in Kaduna, Plateau, Enugu and Benue states.
During the week, scores were, for the umpteenth time slaughtered by Fulani herdsmen in Benue state and the people are accusing President Buhari of failing in his duty to protect them and their property.
Besides, the president’s explanations on the lopsided recruitments and appointments since the inception of his administration have remained unconvincing to many across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, the reason why it will be preposterous for any one to conclude that his re-election will be decided by the mob that still believes he is a messiah; people who are unaware that incompetence is worse than corruption, and who can not draw a nexus between his failures and the hardship Nigerians face, as stated by Okeke.
To us, this assumption is faulty because the mob being referred to are not independent. They have masters who direct them on what to do, and if their masters, across party lines in 2015 directed them to move against Dr. Jonathan because he is a Christian and a southerner, it stands to reason that the narrative will not be the same in 2019 when the two key contestants would be Muslims, and from the north.
Having said that, it is our considered opinion that, yes, based on the presidency’s assessment, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso; former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe may not be a match to Buhari, should he decide to run but it is also true that anything is possible in politics.
From all indications, it does appear that the PDP is still keeping her doors open. In that case one cannot rule out the possibility of the party settling for an ambitious young presidential aspirant from the north with mass appeal. Such a politician may surprisingly become the game changer that may rattle the All Progressives Congress should the president fail to take urgent, concrete and verifiable steps to restore the confidence of the people in his government.
In 2015, Nigerians wanted change and so voted the All Progressives Congress to make it happen. Unfortunately, the change is yet to be seen in all the key sectors of the economy, and most Nigerians feel betrayed. Many are hurting: Nothing is so hurting as the indifference shown by a beneficiary, according to S. Perry, on how to Enrich Your Life.
In all democracies, the objective criterion for re-election of any one into public office is performance. If however some one is hoping that the mob will make it happen in 2019, he may be disappointed because the mob are not independent, they have people controlling and telling them what to do. If the drum beat changes, definitely, it will reflect in their dance steps, and the same mob that was with you yesterday can turn against you tomorrow, especially, if they no longer see you as the long awaited messiah.
No doubt President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the few Nigerians who were lucky to have another opportunity to lead Nigeria – this time in a democratic administration, after doing so as a military maximum ruler between 1983 and 1985. Whether he is re-contesting or not, Buhari should give Nigerians a reason to celebrate his second coming. The president should match his word with actions in the next one year, if only to fulfill the legitimate expectations of the Nigerians. This, in our opinion remains the only guaranty for President Muhammadu Buhari’s safe landing in 2019.