By CHRIS SULEIMAN
For politicians, it’s never too early to start preparation for any political contest, and this is obvious with political developments in Nigeria. Though the ailment of President Muhammadu Buhari dealt a blow to political calculation of certain politicians in Nigeria, his miraculous recovery and subsequent return to the country has began to influence political moves of certain political gladiators.
It may not be very clear or too open, but comments and body languages of certain politicians speaks volume of the pattern the 2019 politicking may likely take.
President Muhammadu Buhari has not revealed his political moves yet, but , information available are sketchy on whether the President will throw his heart in the ring to seek reelection come 2019. But certain politicians want the President to contest the election, analysts says, some of these politicians want to ride on the popularity crest of President Buhari to win election in their respective states or constituencies, they said this has been the stock in trade for some politicians who have over the years deceived the electorates in some northern states of their closeness to president Muhammadu Buhari to win election.
For instance Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai has come out to ask the President to seek reelection for second term, this even followed with an endorsement in Kaduna at an APC stakeholders meeting where the Governor and the President were endorsed for second term in office by the faction of the APC the governor controls in Kaduna. The Kaduna chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC is fictionalised, with APC Akida where the Senator representing Kaduna central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani and some key party members belong while the other faction is usually referred to as APC government House by some commentators.
The discourse has been centred on certain names of some politicians who may likely contest for the presidency come 2019. It has outgrown it infancy level despite the fact that some of the politicians are still playing the hide and seek game with their ambition. Unverified sources have it that political alignment and realignment is ongoing among vested interest in the country. Many political gladiators are rumoured to be positioning themselves for the plumb job not minding the political affiliation. It was also speculated that possibility of political marriages and mergers may take place. Defection and betrayer of political parties may flood the media space as 2019 draw closer.
The opposition People’s Democratic Party PDP are battling to put their house in order for the great battle ahead, but the party seem to be weighed down by many challenges. Aside the loads of allegations of corruption against many of the party members with bags of cases hanging on their neck from the nation’s anti corruption agencies the EFCC and ICPC. The party has suffered a battered image. The name PDP in some regions of the country has suffered terrible media smearing campaign and some will not buy the party for a penny. A major challenge the party face is the gale of defection that saw many of its members moving to the ruling APC. Lack of sufficient funds to run the activities of the party with little or no men who have the war chest to spend their personal money to bankroll the greatest war of 2019. The PDP has never contested any national election as an opposition since 1999 and now twenty years after, they will be trying out their strength out of government. The party lost scandalously while in office in 2015 to the ruling APC who was in opposition going into the contest, the PDP may pull a surprise come 2019 some analysts averred.
If President Muhammad Buhari chooses to contest, its likely the ruling All Progressives Congress may grant him automatic ticket without necessarily conducting primary election for other party men who have ambition to contest with him. And if this happened, it may lead-to implosion in the ruling party and the speculated possibility of certain APC members dumping the party for PDP may come through.
For instance, recently the political landscape in Nigeria was heated following a purported video that was circulated on the social media showing the minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan addressing the former Nigerian Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the President of Nigeria come 2019. The outraged that followed the circulated video was unprecedented. But reacting swiftly, the minister came out to own up to the circulated video and also affirmed what was speculated in the video. Aisha Alhassan, restated her position that she will support the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, for the 2019 presidential election. Speaking in an interview with BBC Hausa, she added that even if President Muhammadu Buhari decides to contest in 2019, she would still support Mr. Abubakar.
According to her, “Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics,” she said in Hausa. “And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019.”
“Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister but Baba just like you know I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest.”
The Minister also said “If because of what I said, I am sacked, it will not bother me because I believe in Allah, that my time has elapsed that is why”. Baba is not a mad man like those calling for my sack. They have been sending it and spreading that if Baba sees this I will be sacked.”
Reactions to the minister’s comment have pour out in torrents from diverse political interest cutting across the six geo-political regions of the country. The commentaries were mostly negative against the women affairs Minister. Her action was described as an act of disloyalty to President Muhammad Buhari. And many have called for her head. Stakeholders in the ruling All Progressives Congress APC have also reprimand her for her action and even went further to invite her to the party secretariat where she was grilled by party leaders on the said action of disloyalty.
These cacophony of harsh voices against Aisha came from Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai, that of Ogun state Ibikunle Amosun and many other party loyalists within the APC folds. The National vice Chairman of the party representing north west Malam Inuwa Abdulkadir also lend his voice to the matter.
Speaking to state house correspondents at the Presidential Vila Abuja, the Kaduna state governor said “Her comments are not surprising. She has never been a supporter, she has never believed in the Buhari ideology. So, I am not surprised. As a Nigerian, as an individual, she has every right to express her views and support whoever she wants. But what I am saying is that Nigerians should not be surprised or shocked,” Governor El-Rufai said.
“This has always been her position because, from time, she has never supported Buharism or what Buhari stands for.” As said, “Being part of the Buhari government is a different thing because the government sets the policies and if you are a minister you execute the policies. You can execute those policies while pursuing a different brand of politics. It is okay, there is no problem with that.
But a Chieftain of the Ruling APC, and deputy publicity secretary of the party, Comrade Timi Frank has cautioned the presidency to be wary of the antics of the Kaduna state governor Nasir El-rufai describing the governor as a record breaker on betraying his political benefactors.
Frank spoke in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja where he said when discourse on loyalty takes the centre stage, people like El-rufai have no space there because he has never been loyal to anyone even those who brought him out from political obscurity.
On the claim by El-rufai that His group asked President Buhari to seek re-election in 2019, Frank said the Kaduna state governor does not have electoral value and credibility to force the President in 2019 stressing that “Buhari is in best position to take such decision by himself”
Aisha Alhassan’s comments and the responds that follow is a clear revelation of what to expect come 2019. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is one of the key persons who have clearly shown his willingness to contest for the presidency come 2019. There are other names been peddled. Like the former Kano state governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the name of Gombe state governor was also mentioned for the job, the likes of Sule Lamido, former Jigawa state governor are still flying in some media outfits as possible aspirants for the presidency in 2019.
As stated earlier some political interest want President Buhari to seek reelection, and if the President yield that advise the political calculation may changed and certain persons may be forced to retire from active politics, because age may not be on their side come 2023 and new kids on the block have to come to the centre stage.
This however, are mere speculations and calculation of politicians, but Nigerians reserved the rights to elect who lead the country come 2019.