By Ochereoma Nnanna
ALL candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the presidency in 2023 will carry heavy moral burdens in the months ahead as they campaign to succeed Muhammadu Buhari. Both during the buildup to the presidential primaries and campaigns, they will falsely claim that they will continue the “good” works of Buhari.
It will be mere flattery in the hope of deceiving the old man to help them into power. Buhari and his cabal members live in a world of their own which is totally insulated from the real Nigerian situation inhabited by you and I. Inside the bubble of that fake world, Buhari is the best president ever. But out here on terra firma, we have never had it so bad.
Apart from some tepid patches of visibility in the area of infrastructure, I see nothing else. Don’t mention agriculture to me. This Tuesday morning as I write, five farming communities were attacked by suspected herdsmen-terrorists with over 100 people killed in Plateau State.
Also, the bandit-terrorists who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train have adopted Abubakar Shekau’s Boko Haram style of making videos of their victims and demanding the release of their “commanders”.
What all this means is that farmers are no longer safe in their homes and farms. Travellers are no longer safe anywhere. How is it an “achievement” when farmers cannot farm and travellers cannot use the roads and rail built with borrowed funds? I do not envy APC candidates because any talk of Buhari regime’s “achievements” will be provocative to the average voter.
Yet, APC aspirants like Yemi Osinbajo, Chibuike Amaechi and Bola Tinubu have no choice but to beat the hollow drum of “continuity”. They know that Buhari’s incumbency support will give them at least a 40 per cent head start advantage over their opponents. On the other hand, it will be “good night” if the president turns his back on any candidate. It will be better for the person to leave the APC for another party or drop out altogether.
Osinbajo, Tinubu and Amaechi have been central to the Buhari presidency. Tinubu mobilised the South West and the propaganda machine which brought the votes that made up the numbers for Buhari to win. Amaechi mobilised financial support or funding for the presidential campaign. Osinbajo, as Vice President, is part and parcel of the Buhari presidency.
Tinubu can claim with certitude that he is not in the government. Amaechi can hide behind the alibi that he is “only” a minister. But Osinbajo will find it difficult to exculpate himself. He was the head of a failed Economic Team. Don’t talk to me about our economy exiting recession under him. What did he do to achieve that?
The economy marginally recovered when crude oil price rebounded, simple. If Osinbajo’s Economic Team and Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, had worked, why did Buhari remove him from that assignment, disband his team and select a new board of economic advisers to report directly to him?
What about his Ease of Doing Business assignment? We only saw improvement in figures but nothing concrete to show that Nigeria is now a better trading nation. What serious business can you do without removing the Apapa gridlock?
Only the other day, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, told a House of Representatives Committee that many African countries are lobbying companies to leave Nigeria and come to them with incentives that Nigeria failed to provide.
We also saw Osinbajo distributing raw cash to people in the markets (they called it Tradermoni) close to elections; one of the most primitive things I have seen a government do! He bathed in the empty populism of those moments. Indeed, he must have seized the opportunity to plant the seeds of his presidential aspiration.
All these notwithstanding, I do not see Osinbajo, Tinubu or even Amaechi continuing any of the programmes and strategies that have rendered Buhari’s regime a massive failure. There will be nepotism in Osinbajo and Tinubu’s regime. They have a track record of that already. But it can never approach the nation-destroying proportions of the Buhari regime. They will definitely not continue Buhari’s Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda. They are likely to mobilise fully against the terrorists being currently treated with kid gloves or even condoned.
I do not see Osinbajo, in particular, as a hopeless case. Buhari’s prolonged illness and absence in 2017 gave us an opportunity to see what he could do if he had full powers. He broke through the iron curtain of Buhari’s ethnic agenda to push through the appointment of Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (though Buhari returned, took out the CJN and brought Sharia jurist, Tanko Mohammed).
Osinbajo also sacked Buhari’s dreaded kinsman, Lawal Daura, in August 2018. Daura was central to Buhari’s ethnic agenda. That Osinbajo took the risk of dismissing him from service after the National Assembly siege by the Directorate of State Services shows he can take tough decisions in the public interest.
Definitely, Osinbajo will unfreeze the social space and respect the rule of law. He will be very constitutional, and he will most likely take steps to promote restructuring. I am not too sure what Tinubu would do with restructuring if by magic he gets the presidency. When he was in Afenifere he was strongly pro-restructuring. But when he left, he dropped the idea for fear of losing his honeypot, Lagos, if the South West were to be restored as a unit of federalism. I have never heard Amaechi addressing the issue of restructuring or true federalism.
All these permutations, however, might well end up as mere academic exercises. The speculation that Buhari might capitalise on “consensus” to spring a dark horse at the last minute is growing. With pro-Buhari governors already mouthing a “consensus presidential candidate”, anything can still happen. Buhari may not be fooled by these fake loyalty antics.