Talking Point

October 3, 2018

The 2019 election and its foretaste of horror 

The 2019 election and its foretaste of horror 

Buhari-Atiku

   By Rotimi Fasan

HMMN…. These should be sober times. They should be times of introspection and self-appraisal when we all should be mindful of the days ahead. But our politicians are hyper excited, engaged in buying votes, casting votes and returning incredible figures even in primary elections in which only card carrying party members are involved.

Atiku AND Buhari

What the day would be, the morning should tell. We can already have a sense of what next year’s general election would look like from trends from recent elections  in the country- from Ekiti to Osun, the party primaries across the country and the role and influence of political godfathers in all of these.

By the Independent National Electoral Commission’s, INEC, timetable, political parties have just about a week to conduct their primaries. But even before these have begun there have been postponements due to threats and  actual use of violence that could negatively impact on the overall conduct of the elections next year. Amid such tension the All Progressives Congress, APC,  had its presidential primaries that fielded the sole-candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari on the last day of September 2018. While the APC hierarchy is unquestionably sold on what they must presently see as Buhari’s mystique, it amounts to stretching the truth to say that nobody thought of standing against the president within the party.

Since APC as epitomised by Buhari himself is a party of body language, it feels safe to say that the body language of the present leadership of the party does not encourage or, in fact, actively discourages any challenge of Buhari’s candidacy. Thus, party  members were presented with the fait accompli of a sole candidate and railroaded into an acceptance of Buhari’s leadership willy-nilly. Such promotion of intolerance as a party strategy is the reason why the APC is today withering into factions in different states across the country. It partly accounts for its poor showing that led to the adoption of desperate measures in the recent governorship election in Osun state. In the name of party cohesion, the APC offers its support to favoured members of their party that are presented as so-called consensus candidates.

Saraki

Saraki

It is for reasons like this aspirants to elective positions go to incredible length of foolery to win the favour of political godfathers and other kingmakers whom they believe could help make their victory unassailable. It is the failure of this process that has turned the APC into the jailhouse of commotion it has become in recent weeks with the challenge posed by Babajide Sanwo-olu to the embattled incumbent governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambode, for the position of governor.

APC continues to run as a party of godfathers and their rudderless children who are left floundering once their sponsors withdraw support for them. But we all know that is not the way to the enthronement of a true democratic culture. Yet, many politicians flock into the den of their godparents totally focused on the immediate gain of office at the detriment of their independence. Which is what makes the Ambode-Tinubu tango virtually a no-contest case.

Politicians who are products of political godfathers must learn to show respect to their benefactor(s), which means dancing to their every tune however discordant. Akinwumi Ambode  should have known  this when he chose to ride on the Tinubu train into Lagos House. Even more importantly, he should have thought of things coming to this pass when, acting his masters’ script, he joined forces against Raji Fashola and appeared determined to roll back his political legacy in Lagos. Ultimately, what goes round comes around.

Without prejudice to what his supporters view as his solid record of performance (I wonder if any governor of Lagos could be a complete non-performer given the huge war chest of funds at their disposal- they only need to deploy a little from their expanding revenue to come across as super achievers), Ambode appears to have momentarily forgotten his ‘source’, asserting his independence from a taskmaster and political deity that demands nothing but the soul of his followers.

Akinwumi Ambode like Raji Fashola was not a politician by inclination. He is the product of someone’s political brokerage and probably never thought of what he was entering into, the complete emasculation and loss of will that would follow his coming under the wings of a political godfather who promoted him over and above other equally qualified aspirants to the position of governor. By the same measure his achievement was inflated while he played the good son, by that same measure is he being deflated now he has fallen out of favour. His achievement or non-performance does not come in for reckoning in this game of intrigue and self-projection.

What counts is the master’s will which neither bends nor defers to any consideration of competence. Like Fashola Ambode probably hoped to break free of their godfather’s stranglehold but he must have declared independence too soon, without an assured base of his own. Nevertheless, he packs enough punches to inflict some damage which is why he defied all hints and clear suggestions to step down for the new favourite- Sanwo-olu who is in equal measure totally blind and deaf to the present lessons of Ambode’s travail. Ignorance will be no excuse. As it was for Fashola, so it is for Ambode and will be for Sanwo-olu and the Tinubu-Aregbesola throw-up, Gboyega Oyetola, governor-elect, Osun state.

The danger that the 2019 elections portends are too grave to be ignored even as many get buoyed on the euphoria of the moment. Only few are wondering now or asking questions about how a primary election could have over two million people voting for Muhammadu Buhari alone- even as a sole-candidate. Abdullahi Ganduje and other supporters of the president had promised to deliver millions of votes for Buhari.

But now they appear better than their words even in mere primaries, what would we see in the actual general election? Is the ground not being cleared for incredibly outrageous figures next year? If a primary election of just the APC could produce two million votes what would anyone have to say when five million votes are returned from Kano alone next February? How many are the total registered voters in Kano to say nothing of the nearly two million also produced for Nasir el Rufai in Kaduna?

I’m not keen on the return of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, given their legacy of profligacy and uncontrollable corruption. But they may have learnt their own lesson. Which is why we should not be blind to what is going on under the Buhari administration. Some people are determined to rub their claims of Buhari’s popularity into our face and will stop at nothing including vote-inflation to make us accept this as a fact. Wahala dey!