We may like to think that politics is a battle of ideas and that the best idea wins out. But that is not true in most elections, most elections are about the worst ideas losing, not the best ideas winning.~ Chuck Todd
We are in the penultimate year of the elections and expectedly politicking is once again in high gear. Even as the economy groans in a crippling fuel scarcity, the citizens are slaughtered and abducted in mind-numbing numbers, our politicians have descended into a frenzy of comical photo-ops, bacchanal solidarity visits, and insipid political rallies.
It may not be wrong to suggest that Obasanjo’s letter triggered the orgy of activities, for much as the euphoria over his missive fizzled out when the opposition PDP dismissed his coalition, the former president has continued holding meetings and consultations.
Buhari has since then saddled former Lagos state governor and party leader Bola Tinubu with the unenviable task of mending fences within the ruling party. A task which has predictably hit a rocky path in just a few days with allegations and denials between Asiwaju and the party chairman John Oyegun.
Where will Tinubu start? Is it with Shehu Sani and El-Rufai? or Rochas and Ararume? Amaechi versus Abe and Melaye against Bello?
Of course political differences are rarely personal and some of these characters have been friends for ages. Corruption often unites them more than personal ambition separates them. So we expect to see some hugs and back patting but which ever way you look at it, Tinubu’s mission is a terribly difficult one.
Be that as it may the battle for power and political office in 2019 will only get fiercer as the year progresses. Indeed we have been treated to a preamble as Senator Abdullahi Adamu led a walk out on his colleagues as amendments to the Electoral Act which effected a change in the election schedule were passed.
As if the amendment wasn’t an adequate warning to the presidency the lawmakers have reportedly threatened to override a contrary presidential veto, a move which has been interpreted in political circles as unpalatable to the presidency.
It is not as if Saraki, a seasoned lawmaker is unaware that even as INEC has filed a suit in the apex court any rookie lawyer can hold up the amendments in a court till after the elections, rather he appreciates the value of every punch in political battles even if its just a jab for testing the waters.
Sadly governance is often neglected in the midst of all these and the masses suffer.
That the APC led administration hasn’t performed any better is a truism. The government has so far not lived up to its promise to improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians. This is an undeniable fact no matter your ethno-religious or partisan sentiment.
Let me not bother you with the all too familiar tableau of our tragedies which was recently capped by the abduction of over 100 school girls in Dapchi community, Yobe state. A shameful recurrence of the infamous Chibok kidnap that the president himself rightly described as “a national disaster”.
So if we consider the opening quote by Chuck Todd a plausible explanation to why Nigerians chose Buhari over Jonathan in the last presidential election then a pertinent question arises; Are there available candidates to make re-electing Buhari the worst idea?
Of course, there are plenty. I for one believe that Peter Obi, Nasir El-Rufai, and Babatunde Fashola have what it takes to perform better as the president of this country. I don’t really give a hoot about what you think of them, this is my opinion which I’m entitled to. These men are young workaholics, they are achievers and their records speak for themselves.
Assuming these men declare their intention to contest the election, a second question however follows; What is the probability that any will clinch his party’s ticket let alone going ahead to defeat Buhari in the polls?
The chances are remote and therein lies the stark reality. Of course, there are some who will argue that it is because Buhari’s supporters are largely illiterate or ignorant. Please perish that elitist narrative because they constitute a majority of the electorate, the same electorate that sent Trump to the White House in one of the most advanced countries and what some consider the greatest democracy in the world.
Others will query the benefit of having that section of the populace as a dominant determinant in the power equation if in retrospect another candidate ‘could’ have done better? Well, the truth is that whether or not the capture of political power by the proletariat appears superfluous after the fact, what really makes democracy imperative is the possibility of such conquest which can bring the political elite back to reality albeit temporarily.
So are we back to square one? Have we found ourselves in a worse situation than in 2015 when many felt the leading choices were poor?
Well whatever anyone may think, the likelihood of APC losing the next election is practically very small.
For one they are in power. If they could take power from the outside how much more now they are inside?
Then secondly the power is concentrated around the Hausa-Fulani whom the rest of the country have unwittingly ascribed some mythical extra-terrestrial political powers too. So the only way APC will lose power in 2019 is if the party defeats itself with complete disintegration. I can predict that such is unlikely to happen if we are to judge by the characteristic selfishness of our politicians.
If Buhari eventually decides to run again the only serious contender left in the ruling party that could decamp is Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso. Anyone who believes that the former governor can win Kano which Buhari has never lost in previous elections must be a greenhorn in Nigerian politics.
And if you think that Obasanjo and IBB wrote letters because they truly care about you then I’m sorry for you. The real reason behind their letters is purely what Sanusi Lamido described as vested interests. They both had their turns but did little to right the wrongs they are now screaming about.
They constitute the wealthy power blocs that Noam Chomsky was referring to when he stated that: “concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power, and concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle”.
The aforementioned could have informed the grapevine whispers around Abuja that a certain edifice springing up in the central area of Federal Capital Territory was part of the requisite inducement to kick-start the APC reconciliation panel.
So you see, the unfortunate truth is that all Buhari needs to do is reassure the power blocs about their interests and you will begin to hear a different song.
We have to agree that every election matters and anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand politics. Elections matter in that smart politicians takes a lesson or two home whether they win or lose. And if Buhari did not learn anything from past elections he must have at least learnt that the political permutations of the last two elections were largely determined by the South West, and that may change in 2019 given the prospect of having two candidates from the north.
Despite the fact that some of his goodwill has been eroded President Buhari still has tremendous support, especially in his northern base. His reputation was built over decades and it will take a lot more than ‘BabachirGate’ and ‘MainaGate’ to extirpate it.
If he does eventually decide to contest again he will need to rally some powerful governors around Tinubu and take control of the party as the National Assembly is already divided (This was Obasanjo’s tactic against Atiku).
But then again what if he decides to retire?…