May 22, 2024

Nigerian politicians and the 2027 election, by Rotimi Fasan

Rotimi Fasan

OUR Nigerian politicians (for this needs to be emphasised, being the special breed that they are) are like vultures or some other birds of prey already roving in our political sky, waiting to pounce in a sudden dip on the unsuspecting prey on the ground- to snatch, grab and run away with power as the incumbent president, Bola Tinubu, had advised and has been accused of doing.

He it was who famously said power is not served a la carte and it is clear that his political adversaries are not taking this piece of political wisdom from his bag of tricks lightly. Although none of them will own up to it. Thus, within weeks of his being sworn in as president and even now, exactly one week from the first anniversary of his administration, the air is thick with talks of party mergers whose sole purpose is how he would be pushed out of office. 

Never mind all that blather about rescuing Nigeria; it’s all about self-interest. Since these politicians live from one electoral cycle to another with the sole aim of grabbing power, they cannot wait to see the incumbent president go. It is even something of a miracle that the main opponents of the president could wait this long to see him remain in office. They had openly canvassed for his ouster via means that are far from democratic after their bullying of the judiciary failed in the lead-up to the decision of the Supreme Court upholding the outcome of the 2023 presidential election. 

Before that time, they and some of their supporters had called on the military to intervene. They went on their knees, literally, begging and wondering what the military was standing by doing while someone they thought shouldn’t be president was about to be inaugurated into office. During this period, the opposition leaders came together as one despite being at daggers drawn for most part of the period after their primaries. When they failed in their bid to have the support of the military and the international community, they went their separate ways accusing each other of aiding the emergence of Tinubu as president by their selfish ways. So sore and wrought are they now that they have resorted to meeting in secret to plan their strategy for the 2027 election. 

One wonders why they cannot wait to see how our ailing economy improves and the crisis of governance that has been worsened by runaway inflation and high costs of energy and power is made a thing of the past? Yes, the leading presidential candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, have each addressed scores of press conferences and made releases on the state of the nation since May last year, but they have done this only with an eye to replace the man who defeated them in the last presidential election. They have operated as individuals seeking power even when the election has been won and lost. The party platforms on which they stood for election are today in tatters, torn apart by internal crises that they lack the means to resolve when they are not blaming Tinubu who they have lionised and imbued with powers close to the supernatural for it. 

The organised response of political parties in a democracy, anticipating and proffering solutions to the crisis of governance, is alien to them. They speak for and only in their own name and person with no input from the primary organisation that provides scaffolding for their political thoughts. As things stand, neither Atiku nor Obi is sure of standing for the next election on the platform provided by their current parties. Both have their eyes set on establishing a new party, a so-called mega party that is projected to offer alternative trajectory to Nigerians, even when it would be populated by the same people, renegades from the all three leading parties that stood the last presidential election. Their agenda would basically be a repurposing of what the present APC, PDP, LP and the other parties have offered without finding a lasting solution to our problems. 

Here political parties have become mere special purpose vehicles for the achievement of the different ambitions of politicians. In themselves they are not different and neither are their constituents different. This explains why politicians find it very easy to move seamlessly from one party to the other and our problems remain unresolved. What alternative programme does either of Atiku and Obi have to offer Nigerians apart from what the Tinubu administration is struggling with? In what way can they stabilise the naira, end food inflation and increase our export? Beyond bland criticisms, how can these people waiting in the wings to oust the present occupants of Aso Villa bring succour to suffering Nigerians? 

A number of them have emerged from their rabbit holes with blinkered insights about how the removal of fuel subsidy is the root cause of all the crises the country is confronted by. But they have not been able to convince anyone, least of all themselves, what they would do differently from what Tinubu is doing. Like parrots they only repeat the last things they heard about how the words the president pronounced about the removal of fuel subsidy during his inauguration is the reason why we are where we are. In other words, the timing that was the problem for Muhammadu Buhari who for eight years kicked the can of fuel subsidy removal down the road, that problem of timing is the same problem for Atiku and Obi and their supporters. If they were in office, would they have removed subsidy a year after their inauguration? Or would they still be wondering when the time would be ripe to do that? 

One year on and the Tinubu administration is still grappling with the different problems it largely inherited from its predecessor. Obviously, the problems have worsened in some instances but they would have definitely been even worse if things had remained as they were under Buhari. We probably wouldn’t have a country as we do presently, terrible as things have become. To seek to hold the present government responsible for all our problems is merely playing the worst form of politics. 

None of our present opposition leaders could have achieved a better outcome than Tinubu going by their pronounced ideas. They are like those Northern feudalists who only saw all that is wrong with Nigeria after they lost power. They are only interested in being in power for themselves- the likes of Usman Yusuf and his inflated sense of erudition or Babachir Lawal with his bruised ego. What has changed to warrant the collaboration between Atiku and Obi that was not present before last year’s election? Yeye dey smell!