2019 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND EMERGING POLITICAL DAILETICS IN NIGERIAN DEMOCRACY
By Dapo Adejumo Esq.
It is few days to the 2019 Presidential Elections. Political parties and their presidential candidates are busy across the country canvassing for the majority chunk of passionate electorates. The big two i.e All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party had been the focus of a struggle that has started since the displacement of the former and enthronement of the latter.
During the build up to the 2015 general elections, the opposition had employed their entire political wherewithal to ensure the seemingly unbeatable Peoples Democratic Party were dislodged from their firm grip at federal power. Perhaps what undid the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led P.D.P was the internal bickering that ensued from political chess played by its self-ambitious members. The drama that followed the polarity among the Governors Forum, the powerful P.D.P Federal Legislators scheming their return to the senate chambers, and the executive appointees plotting their relevance were notable instances of the chaotic state of the P.D.P before the 2015 Presidential Elections.
The opposition parties cashed into the chaos in PDP and restructured their selves into a coalition to be later known as the All Progressives Congress. Major party leaders decamped to the new coalition. The decampment was massive. Ministers, governors, serving federal and state legislators, executive appointees swapped P.D.P for A.P.C. What was going to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the Rivers State political salvos between Rotimi Amaechi and Dame Patience Jonathan.
The All Progressives Congress was a marriage between the C.P.C, A.C.N, and a faction of A.P.G.A. The marriage was necessary as none of these three had successfully won the P.D.P in the previous presidential elections. C.P.C was the party who had the best challenge to the P.D.P in most attempts at Presidential elections in Nigeria. Muhamadu Buhari as C.P.C presidential candidate was the runner up in two occasions, 2011, 2007. It was easier for the A.P.C to choose him as their presidential flag bearer for the 2015 presidential election.
Despite the brief postponement of the Presidential election, and arguments as to the proprietary of the use of card readers for the election, the d day came, and ballots were casted. The collations of votes were memorably dramatic. Mr. Orubebe was the thespian on duty. The numbers were aggregated, and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will make an announcement that significantly changed the narratives of Nigerian Democracy. G.E.J threw in the towel, announced Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the 2015 presidential election, his ambition does not worth the blood of innocent Nigerians he said. He thereafter called Buhari to congratulate him. It was the first time an incumbent will be voted out of office as President by the opposition party in Nigeria.
As A.P.C began to chart their course of “change”, the fear of Buhari was the beginning of financial discipline! It was the general mood rife in town. Nigerians began to recall the draconian discipline with which Buhari ruled while he was a Military Head of State. The looting spree and administrative recklessness will not be condoled by Buhari, was the popular opinion. The 16 year reign of financial and administrative rape is finally over, several Nigerians were musing.
However, shortly after PMB was inaugurated, the lobbying for executive appointments started. There had been several political bargains done before the 2015 general elections. All the fragment of political blocks that made up the A.P.C was pulling for slots and offices. It took Buhari over six months to appoint ministers. The recurrence of the fears that made Nigerians vote out G.E.J, corruption, will soon rear its ugly head. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation was indicted to have manipulated the contract for clearing of weeds and laundered over ₦200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million Naira) only. It was expected that P.M.B will wield his punitary sledge hammer, surprisingly, the President will claim not have been aware of such allegations, as he later reacted to news of serial stabbing of his anti corruption program by some members of his executive cabinet.
Now that the Nigerian balloting season is ripe, Nigerians have been reviewing the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari since his inauguration on May 29, 2015. To some, he has failed woefully in delivering his exotic promises while he was campaigning vigorously for the Nigerian presidential seat. The increment in pump price and the decrement in the value of Naira to a Dollar in contrast to his promise of reduction of pump price to ₦45 and the prevalent value of Naira to a Dollar at ₦345 are instances of failed political promises Nigerians have been complaining about. More so, the administrative recklessness wielded by P.M.B’s aides in the guise of fighting corruption is entirely discouraging. Usually when the administrative recklessness becomes obvious, the President often remarks that he is unaware! His flagrant stab on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) under the excuse of administrative necessity smacks of a tyrannical abuse of executive powers.
Relatively, it is also the opinion pro-Buhari campaigners that PMB has set a standard in his fight against corruption. He has successfully curtailed the rampant rape of our treasury by elective and appointive government officials. It is no more a free day to serial theft from the government treasury. The financial scrutiny and discipline under P.M.B is like no other to the extent that it has curbed the main threat against Nigeria’s socio-economic development: corruption. For example, due to the Treasury Single Account operated by the Federal government, public revenue is no longer susceptible to thievery and diversion by public servants as it were under the P.D.P. One must not also sweep under the carpet the effect of the Bank Verification Number introduced into our banking system in checkmating money laundering and other economic and financial crimes.
The sustenance of the revival of the agricultural sector by P.M.B is a success that cannot go unnoticed. The antecedent effect is the reduction in importation of food commodities and the boosting of the viability of the sector. Rice, Yam and Maize production has increased as a result of P.M.B’s diversification from oil revenue program. Small scale industries are springing up and we are having an increasing entrepreneurial pool that has helped reduced unemployment level and boost our GDP. These indices guarantee a victory for P.M.B in the Presidential elections.
On the other hand, the opposition parties are scheming to unseat the incumbent. Most notable is the People’s Democratic Party. The P.D.P has chosen Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as its presidential candidate.
Atiku Abubakar is a former Vice –President and Business mogul. He was a former Comptroller General of Customs and his political strength in the North is almost unrivalled. He contested the annulled June 12, 1993 election but lost the party ticket to M.K.O Abiola who won but later denied the victory by Military President Ibrahim Babangida. Shortly after the demise of General Sanni Abacha, his political movement, Peoples Democratic Movement was pivotal in the evolution of the P.D.P. His choice as Obasanjo’s running mate was not difficult at all. However, he was to become one of the most feared Vice-Presidents Nigeria ever had. He played a major role in aborting President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term bid spending over a billion to lobby votes against the constitutional amendment that was to allow the third term. While he was in office as Vice-President, he was alleged by Obasanjo to have mishandled the MOFAS Account placed under his supervision. Besides, he was also accused as a conspirator in the Halliburton/Siemens Scandal. Atiku Abubakar owns a private University and boasts to be the largest private employer of labour in Nigeria. He is alleged to be wanted by U.S for his involvement in the scandal.
Atiku’s chances of unseating PMB, although remote, will depend on several factors. Politically promiscuous legislators that undid Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, while politicking to keep their seats or secure elevation often throw away party loyalty for Machiavellian politics! They often sacrifice their party’s collective ambition for their personal desires. For example as Senator Bukola Saraki conversely ditched the A.P.C for P.D.P, in return for security of his seat as the Senate President, several legislators have also followed suit to deplete the ruling party’s strength in the National assembly. One must not swerve away the remote effect of these decampments with a wave of hand. Also during the A.P.C primary elections several cases of aspirants robbed of their candidacy by the party oligarchs made several contestants move to other parties to secure their tickets to contest in the general elections. These incidences coupled with a sober economy may tilt the elections in favour of Atiku Abubakar who is a renowned capitalist expected to allow a less austere economy.
Aside from these two big contenders, several contestants from mushroom political parties are participating in the presidential election. Notable among these contestants are Sowore, Fela-Durotoye, and Kingsley Moghalu who are younger and pressing for a political drift of a youth led Nigeria. As boisterous as these younger candidates’ campaign for the presidential election are, the reality of their winning the election is narrow. But they sure make statement of an impending drift of political power to the youths.
Dapo Adejumo Esq., Abuja.