By Ochereome Nnanna

I AM really excited right now. You know why? By this time next week, the man (or woman) who will replace President Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s leader would have emerged from any of the political parties. 

It will be one year to the end of this pockmarked, antediluvian, clueless, arid and blood-soaked regime which we have endured for seven whole years. This is a regime which has constituted the biggest threat to the survival of Nigeria. I can’t wait for May 29, 2022!

The journey to next week picked up tempo last week. Let me start from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, camp before ending with the main reason for this article, the All Progressives Congress, APC. Four presidential aspirants of the PDP have my attention. 

The 2019 flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar, comes into this race still the frontrunner but much diminished compared to 2019.

He will be 77 in 2023. He will be the oldest ever aspirant to Nigeria’s presidency. He is a seasoned political  jumpologist. 

Jumpology is the art of jumping from one platform to the other. It is our local slang for “opportunism”. Ask Atiku why he wants to be president, all you get is that it is the only thing he has yet to achieve despite his 29 years of failed efforts. He is on the same wavelength with APC’s Bola Tinubu who wants to be president “to fulfil my life ambition”.

Atiku is so desperate that he pulled down his tweet condemning the lynching of Deborah Samuel by Muslim extremists. He bowed to the demands of jihadists and pissed on Deborah’s grave. Is this the man who can deal with Boko Haram, bandit-terrorists and herdsmen-terrorists?

Aminu Tambuwal also comes into this race demystified by his failure to charge the killers of Deborah with murder. He instead charged them with conspiracy to incite a riot. 

He refused to show empathy to the poor girl’s family and the Christian community, apparently because he too needed to kowtow to Muslim extremists. Since he started running for president, he has never shown what he intends to do.

There is Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, whose main thrusts are his nurturing of the PDP when the likes of Atiku, Tambuwal, Bukola Saraki, Iyorchia Ayu and others had abandoned it to dine with Buhari and his APC. Wike is also projecting the “can do” tough guy message. If precedents are anything to go by, Wike is making a legitimate claim.

Finally, for the PDP, there is Peter Obi! Today, the former Anambra State Governor is the most popular leader among the youths yearning for a total departure from the past and present failures of Nigeria. Since Obi left office in 2014, he has done a lot of school evangelisms and public speaking projecting a message of personal rectitude as a leader, track record of performance as a governor and businessman, and clear vision of what he will do to move Nigeria from a consuming nation back to producing nation.

Obi’s message has caught fire. The youthful Twitter community, in the same manner that they created the #EndSARS movement, mobilised and staged a nationwide million-man march in support of Obi’s presidential project last weekend. Guess what? Obi did not pay a kobo for that, unlike Governor Yahaya Bello who has continued to squander his state’s lean resources in his own quixotic presidential pursuit.

All these notwithstanding, I still expect Atiku to pick the PDP ticket. Apart from his existing structure, he is backed by the party apparatchik. And he is loaded and ready to offload on the delegates, unlike Obi who has vowed not to bribe delegates. We watch and see what happens next.

Who will be the APC’s flagbearer by next week? We have no idea who Buhari will lend his presidential support to, but based on media reports, we have a good idea who he may not. 

The party is sending confusing signals. The Mai Mala Buni-led executive had zoned the presidency to the South, but when Buhari’s Man Friday, Abdullahi Adamu, arrived he basically threw it open. 

This encouraged Ahmed Lawan, the Senate President and a core Buhari loyalist, to enter the race in which another Northerner, Yahaya Bello, already held sway.

Reports say that Buhari’s eyes are eastward: South-East or South-South. I will be shocked if Buhari supports a South-Easterner to replace him. I will not be so surprised if it goes to the South-South because of Chibuike Amaechi, one of the core architects of his ascent to power.

Ordinarily, Buhari is obligated to procure his successor from the south-West. The South-West, led by Ahmed Tinubu, gave him the war chest, votes and home supports to finally clinch power after three previous failed attempts. Buhari should be handing over to Tinubu who had to dissolve his Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, to become part of the APC.

As we speak today, Tinubu remains the frontrunner in the APC but he will get nowhere if, indeed, Buhari refuses to back him up with his incumbency powers. 

The notion of Yemi Osinbajo succeeding Buhari never arose at all. Buhari’s cabal do not see Tinubu and Osinbajo as people they can expect to dance to their wishes if they find themselves on that powerful throne. For reasons not clear to me, they believe that their preferred choices from the Eastern flank will be more manipulable. I dey laugh o!

Eight years ago, I advised Tinubu not to give power to Buhari; I told him that he could never realise his ambition through that route. In a feudalist setting such as Buhari’s, a kingmaker does not become the king. Buhari is no genuine progressive. The same thing that stopped MKO Abiola will stop Tinubu. This was what I saw eight years ago.

By this time next week, I shall be proved right.


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