By Kabiru M. Gwangwazo
Since the return of General Buhari in good health last year the political atmosphere has been revving up ahead of the mother of all battles in 2019.
Though the President has not yet confirmed he is contesting a second term, his usual “body language” when elections are around the corner suggests he has already thrown his hat into the ring.
I am of the group who still believe our same old GMB is the best option yet on the scene. But sadly, his “body language” is used to lure him into many ill-advised political decisions and engagements. On elongation of the party executives’ tenure the suggestion is that it was done in the General’s interest, that it was the safest option for him to reclaim the ticket of the APC for 2019. This is not minding the many inadequacies of the exco at all levels; of which GMB, his handlers and state governors are the principal architects.
On their retention, albeit unconstitutionally, GMB ended up spiting a broad swathe of his own supporters, especially that the extension of tenure affected all levels, down to LGs and wards. This discounts the many aggrieved APC activists and stalwarts in the North locked out of government and party since 2015.
The elongation rubbished the powerful Tinubu Reconciliation Committee, a committee in which hope had been invested by most aggrieved party men and women, despite the lack of clarity of its membership. Even as a one-man committee, Tinubu had given hope that there would be a fair ear given for a genuine politically-rooted reconciliation. He has received numerous solicited and unsolicited advise over the few weeks he had been on the turf as chief arbiter of APC’s many troubles.
Yet, another major ill-chewed decision that Mr. President has been lured into is the rejection of the National Assembly proposal on reordering of the election sequence. There is no compelling reason for the Presidency to spike the Bill. He should best let the system work and correct itself; that is where there are mistakes to correct. INEC has been pulled into this, working itself into a frenzy to interpret words of the constitution that are not explicit. Only God knows what the judiciary is expected to do when the matter is escalated to it.
On the order of elections, in 1979, the sequence had the President as last on the queue. It was the desperation of an unpopular NPN Shagari government that reordered it, making Presidential first for the “bandwagon” rigging needed to return the NPN. That was an unpopular civilian government that lasted only three months. It unfortunately led to the putsch by GMB and his co-coupists in 1983.
In IBB’s 3rd Republic, first were LG elections, then state polls. Presidential was kept for last before IBB stepped aside.
Next is this 4th Republic. Elections began with LGs, then states. Atiku Abubakar as PDP Governor-elect of Adamawa was promoted Vice President to General Obasanjo, leaving the state to Deputy, Bonnie Haruna.
In 2003 the PDP had to reorder the sequence for fear of massively popular GMB riding the crest of the pro-Shariah movement in the North. The Presidential election and its weird bandwagon reminiscent of the unpopular NPN days was again invoked. The first set of polls in 2003 thus had President and National Assembly on the same day. Governors had their day later.
It is common knowledge Governors lured GMB into an ill-advised muscle flexing on the election sequence with the bait of his own election. By doing so, they are tacitly saying the General is now afraid of the mass base he has, that he needs governors to “bandwagon” victory for him. The reality is that it is governors and other aspirants that are neither here nor there who still need the cover of the GMB SAK bandwagon The fear though is they may be thinking the unthinkable: rigging, with all its consequences. And it will have consequences, no doubt.
The apparent rebuff of the Tinubu Committee by the tenure elongation is another area where GMB has been so lured by the bait of re-election. What is more, there are all kinds of suppositions and analyses on what is actually on ground with regards to the politics of APC states and their tonnes of crises. Most of the analyses on the APC crises so far focus on areas that have received the most media hype, even when the facts are not always as sold on the media.
One that I read on an online post this week pointed to some 14 fluid states that APC may lose. That post appears generally plausible, even if the suggestion that wherever APC loses, PDP will be the beneficiary is a fatuous assumption with little scientific basis.
A more rational assessment though should identify other parties in the states likely to benefit from APC’s loss, especially if Tinubu, the APC Chief Reconciler is made to fail. Tinubu is no doubt the key to resolution of the APC crises.
After he finishes his assignment, Tinubu should be made Chairman of the GMB 2019 Presidential Campaign. Kwankwaso should be made Vice-Chairman to pull in the areas he has made inroads into in the North, while Amaechi remains DG of the Campaign. Tinubu as Vice President will ensure Yorubaland votes to make up for likely losses in the North. And there will be losses whether the reconciliation works or not. APC will not get votes of most Christians in the North. This is obvious with the ongoing manipulation of the security situation in the Middle Belt.
With this, the electoral value of Osinbajo is, to say the least, weak. After all, like General Buhari said in his 2018 New Year Address, Yorubas are more conscious of their ethnic identity rather than the religious consideration of other ethnic groups. The 2019 poll will surely be hard-fought. Many voters overly enthusiastic in 2015 may not participate unless more work is done on them. APC voters in the core North who trooped out in 2015 did so to save themselves from the threat of BH let loose by a loose, or worse, complicit PDP central government may not feel the same urge in 2019.
In Kano and Bauchi, incumbents at all levels are at serious risk of losing, though not necessarily to PDP. Teams of core Buharists sidelined in states and at the centre will surely work with other alienated APC members and those who lose out in PDP to form the next governments of Bauchi and Kano, and in many other crises-infested states too.
On voter demographics in Kano, the Buhari group is made up of believers in good governance. The Sharia-inclined mass base of the Talakawa political vision of NEPU and PRP of Malam Aminu Kano is what Buhari inherited in Kano and all states of the North. This mass base of disenchanted Buharists have been onlookers in the government and APC. That is also what obtains in many of the 2019 fluid states. Such activists will determine what happens in Kano. For sure, like most analysts suggest, Kano in 2019 is certainly fluid. But the APC problem here is not only about Kwankwaso or Ganduje or even PDP, even when both Kwankwaso and Ganduje are all PDP Graduates of APC.