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3 Nov 2017

Why Buhari Should Reconsider In 2019

Nigerian columnist, Bolaji Tunji, explains in this piece that Nigeria is now in urgent need of a youthful, vigorous person to lead her.

The 2019 elections are still several months away, but by the mid and later part of 2018, there would be heightened activities by those contesting for one office or the other. But by far the most important of the elective offices is that of the president of the country. Presently, only two individuals have indicated   interest in the office of the president.

One formally and the other yet to publicly declare. Former Vice President of the country and chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Ekiti state governor,  Ayo Fayose, the only Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor in the South West and who was the lone opposition voice for quite a while, are the duo that have shown interest . But of more concern to me is the incumbent president and whether he would still offer himself for a second term in office.

President Mohammadu Buhari has not come out to tell Nigerians whether he would contest or not. The days are still early. In spite of that, some APC governors and lawmakers have started urging him to contest. On Tuesday at the APC’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, governors like Rochas Okorocha of Imo, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Tanko Al-Makura of Nassarawa and Solomon Lalong of Plateau all rooted for the president to contest. This is how Al-Makura puts it, “the future of this country as we are now, is associated with one person who is impeccable, who has the greatest amount of integrity that you can find in any human being around”.

His Kebbi counterpart said the president’s record in the last two years would prove him in good stead for 2019. Others spoke in similar vein with Gov Okorocha saying he would only contest for the position if President Buhari was not contesting.

In all these, my message for the president is not to get lured by all those urging him to contest for a second term. If he decided to contest, he would come to the realization that the massive support that brought him in 2015 is no longer there, except in a few corners of the country. Not even in the core north would the president get the massive support he got about two years ago. There are many factors responsible for this.

Knowingly or not, the president’s popularity has taken a beating. The expectations are beyond the reality. Nigerians voted for a president that promised fairness to all, a president that would belong to everybody and belong to nobody, but the past two years has painted a different picture.

The president has shown, since the past two years that he clearly belongs to some people. He has projected this in his various appointments. Indeed, an analysis by a newspaper on the appointments made by the president shows that out of about 100 appointments made, 81 are from the North while the other zones shared the remaining 19.

More specifically, in late August, there were about 55 major appointments and redeployments  made in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), most of the appointments were tilted towards the north while the south east zone was totally ignored, leading to condemnation from Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Southeast zone’s socio-cultural cum political organization.

“Ohaneze is appalled at the consistent and unrepentant disposition of disdain for the South-East by the Buhari administration as copiously displayed in the recent reorganization at the NNPC. Ohaneze had thought that after the President’s declaration in a broadcast recently that Nigeria unity had been settled and not negotiable, that he would take all necessary actions in his governance to achieve it, but the recent NNPC shake-up has not shown that the administration is walking its talk. Buhari administration has shown in the new managers just announced tilting clearly in favour of the North, with the South-East totally ignored, as has always been the case since Buhari administration came to office.

This brazen disregard, marginalization and non-compliance with the Federal character provisions in our constitution are the causes of lack of confidence which our youths have in our present governance structure”. From the Ohaneze Ndigbo’s statement, it is obvious that there would not be any support coming for President Buhari from that zone, contrary to what some people may be telling him.

In the south west, all is also not too well. The alignment that gave him support in the south west is also greatly eroded, despite what anybody would want to tell the president. Those who gave him support then would not give the same support again. For most discerning political observers, the statement by Chief Bisi Akande, interim Chairman of APC  recently that the political space is opened to whoever wants to contest since the president had not given indication that he would contest, is a subtle message being passed across that President Buhari’s path to a second term would not be smooth. Those who had worked for the president’s emergence have been ignored and in most cases, sidelined. They would not fall into the same trap despite the public show of support we are seeing presently.

The north that had always been the president’s support base is also not so homogeneous in its support. A Kaduna- based group, Arewa Youth Forum had recently expressed disappointment in the Buhari administration for the inability to meet the expectation of the people.

“A situation where majority of Nigerians languish in abject poverty and penury, where people can no longer eat two times a day, not to talk about three square meals (sic) a day is a worrisome development and a cause for concern for us and we believe, should be for all well meaning Nigerians.

Time for change is now before it is too late; the alarming situation, however, is that there seems not to be any concrete or genuine solutions coming from government and its agencies on how to ameliorate the present quagmire that is threatening to take the country to the precipice,” was how the group captured their dissatisfaction with the present situation.  And that is speaking the mind of so many people. Recent developments have equally shown that the president is not in total control or so it seems, with many appointees complaining of being stonewalled from seeing him.

But of more importance is the fact that age is also not on the president’s side. By 2019, the president would be 76 years old, another four years would make him 80.

Even at 74, he does not have that vigour needed to run the country effectively, coupled with the health challenges he suffered in recent time. All these taken together would not help a second term ambition. Nigeria needs a youthful, vigorous person to lead her.

***
Written by Bolaji Tunji

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