In any position of royal authority, there also cannot be a vacuum. When a king steps down or out, a form of replacement is immediately put in place. A similar script obtains in a position of political leadership. When a leader steps aside, somebody else steps up. But where there is no vacuum, there is no replacement.
Amidst undercurrent ciphering and permutations set to corral and immure President Muhammadu Buhari to just one term in office, apparats in the ruling party APC defiantly insist there will be no vacuum in the presidency come 2019. Moves to extirpate this in-house dogged doctrine have already swung into a frenetic and frenzied gear. Coteries of challengers are rubbing minds; and klatches of men set for an electioneering clash with the ruling party are parleying undercover. Names of potential challengers we hear will not surprise you. Some of them have traversed the terrain aforetime; and others are still active players in situ.
There are bellows and clamours for the return of immediate past president Goodluck Jonathan. Die-hard disciples of Jonathan believe that he remains the only solution to Nigeria’s behemoth of problems. Jonathan’s business in Aso Rock is far from done; his votaries say; the former President himself has not said a word about running in 2019; but hawkers of the Goodluck product are set to test its marketability. If Jonathan opts to run, the fiercest opposition will not be from anywhere else but from his region in the South-South.
Rabiu Kwakwanso, a sitting Senator from Kano, has always wanted to be president. He slugged it out in the APC primaries in October 2014 and was hedged to a second place by candidate Buhari. Kwakwanso’s footprints of achievements as Kano State Governor for eight years are worth touting. And it is why a non-governmental organisation, Kwankwasiyya Pillars of the Nation, has thrown its weight behind him. Outside of Kano and a part of the North, Kwakwanso is a lightweight. In most of the South, he is perceived a bigot and ethnic champion and arrowhead of his stock who pushes others down for his own kind to move up. But his accomplishments while serving in Kano as governor are adjudged stellar.
There is nothing titanic about Aminu Tambuwal who now governs Sokoto State. We heard, he too, is on an early morning routine jogs sprinting towards Aso Rock Villa. Young, ebullient, and smooth, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives hasn’t shown much in accomplishments as governor of his state so far. His flawlessly flowing white and sparkling clean Babariga stands him out amidst any crowd. Besides that; it is zero recorded against this hero in public opinions. Tambuwal’s tanked ambition may be inevitable.
When posters of Sule Lamido flooded Lagos PDP Secretariat earlier in the year, it was no surprise. The former Governor of Jigawa State and one-time Foreign Affairs Minister under Olusegun Obasanjo has always appeared prepared for the Presidency. Obasanjo, I am sure, will be torn between siding with Lamido or Kwakwanso; he loves them both. Lamido has built a strong network outside Nigeria with nations’ heads of state; and made inroads in the South especially in the Niger Delta. Lamido may end up clinching the PDP ticket in an easy ride if the APC’s Atiku Abubakar does not remarry the party for the umpteenth time. Lamido’s winnable game in the PDP is up in the air.
Except for an unexpected uprooting event; in this political season, Nigerians know that the Presidency may have to hang North until 2023. But why is Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s name as a potential candidate also firing up the terrain? The former Lagos State Governor and strongman behind the birth of the APC is beloved by many who want him to take a shot at the presidency. A few people around Tinubu told me that although the mammoth political strategist may not be all happy with the Buhari administration and its stifling northern oligarchs around Mr. President, Asiwaju may not go anywhere except the status around Buhari changes. His politics, undoubtedly, may irk some people, but this man tastes like honey that you can’t spit out, he is the real deal in today’s Nigerian politics his detractors can’t deny it; and he remains a bell that keeps ringing in the ears of those who don’t want to hear him. His quietude of late has been unnerving to members of the APC; and many aren’t sure yet where the political mathematician hangs his calculator this time round.
Despite rebuffs he has received from his party, the PDP, Ekiti Governor, Ayo Fayose also wants to be president of Nigeria. He has said it several times and wrote it in letters. I love Ayo for personal reasons; but will he run? As long as he has feet, a big mouth, and a huge cash war chest, he will. I am not just sure how fast; or how far, but the PDP has settled for a Northern candidate.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is fast replacing Rotimi Amaechi as the Lion of Niger Delta. He is a grassroots guy who understands the language of his people. Call him crude and rude, the love for Wike is growing daily in Rivers. Will he run? I don’t think so. Can he? Yes, he can; even if just to make a statement. But for now, Wike appears more interested in Rivers and South-South politics than a struggle with a far-fetched race that will end nowhere.
I have a lot of friends from Igboland and a few from Imo State who always relish lampooning Imo State Governor, Rocha Okorocha. Sometimes, their chastisements are justifiable; but if there is a chance of an Igbo President in Nigeria in 2019 or even in not too-distant a future, the road goes through Rochas Okorocha. He has a heart that beats not to any ethnic jingle and tinkle. He speaks fluent Hausa and has a great appeal in the heart of the North and making speedy forays into the South-West. Okorocha ran in the APC primaries in October 2014 and came third. Will Okorocha run in 2019? Why not?
I see no one political figure with enough cayenne to unleash a dent in the present coalition especially in the North where Buhari remains a galvanising figure. If the President regains his strength maximally and in full throttle; if there are no doubts as to his physical agility and mental acuity to deliver as president; if his recuperation from the downing illness gets more indubitable, Buhari will run for a second term. Oh, my gosh! What a stab it will be in the temple of those who think Buhari is only running one term. Will Sai Baba win? In the fast-changing dynamics of Nigerian politics, I can’t bet on nothing yet.
What then happens to Atiku’s dreams in the APC if Buhari runs? Atiku cannot win a primary in a party with the sitting President seeking a ticket. Immediately Buhari announces, Atiku’s dream in the APC dies; and it regains life in the PDP. The PDP is Atiku’s home. That’s where he came from. The battlefield for who becomes President in 2019 will cuddle up in the North where Buhari is deemed a god that will not die. Readers, the growing desires for restructuring in the nation will grow wilder by 2019. Any candidate who does not subscribe to the restructuring idea of a struggling giant of Africa will not become President in 2019.
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