Politics

May 19, 2024

Obi, Atiku, Kwankwaso stoke 2027 permutations

Obi, Atiku, Kwankwaso stoke 2027 permutations

•The inside story

By Emmanuel Aziken

Nigerian political actors have upped their game ahead of the 2027 presidential election with the opposition determined to pull the rug off the feet of President Bola Tinubu in the same way he championed the dismissal of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the ruling party in 2015.

In the most visible act of political solidarity, since they separately fought the 2023 presidential election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Mr Peter Obi, the 2023 presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) made public their meeting last week.

However, Sunday Vanguard reports that the meeting between the two gladiators was made public to energise the ranks of the dispirited opposition. It was reliably gathered that it was not the first time that the two leading opposition leaders would be meeting since the election as their publicists sought to portray.

It was gathered that the two men have met at least four times including in Dubai as part of their engagements towards forming a united front to uproot the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2027.

“It’s just a normal friendly meeting that we often had, particularly we in the opposition parties. Such meetings are healthy for Nigeria’s democracy and for the country’s interest,” Atiku told the BBC following the meeting with Obi.
Affirming the possibility of upstaging the APC, he said:

“Yes, it’s very much possible. We can merge to achieve a common goal. So, it’s possible and nothing can stop it if we so wish to achieve that.”

Mega party

That engagement envisages the formation of a mega party following what many believe as external provocations to distabilise the two major political parties.

A top ally of Tinubu in the PDP has successfully defanged the opposition party famously sitting in the party’s National Caucus last month and proceeding from there to chorus the president’s Renewed Hope chants.

The Labour Party has also suffered near similar fate from a rag-tag internal insurgency.

Besides Obi and Atiku, political actors from the opposition, and reportedly with some inklings in the ruling party, are also meeting in secret towards the formation of a mega party to confront the ruling APC.

Sunday Vanguard reports that members of the National Assembly from both the opposition and ruling party, mostly from the North, are about the most desperate for the merger.

A member of the National Assembly explaining the desperation of some APC northern members for the merger said yesterday: “You know the National Assembly election holds the same day as the presidential election and, with the popularity of the APC in the North, anyone entering the election on the platform of the APC would be in serious trouble. That is why northerners are desperate for the merger.”

An opposition senator, who claimed to have spoken to several of his colleagues in the APC from the North amplifying the sentiment, said:

“The only way some of my colleagues believe they can win is to go through a mega party. This is because they know that since the election is going to be on the same day with the presidential, they fear that the sentiments against APC in the North will work against them.”

Affirming that the APC can be defeated, the senator said: “Let us do the merger first before talking of presidential candidate otherwise, my brother, I tell you if there is no merger, you are rest assured that except the God factor, Tinubu is assured of a second term. But if there is a merger and Peter and Atiku put their ambitions in the pocket, there is no way Tinubu can win a second term,” the senator, himself a former chieftain of the APC said.

Caging APC

The senator was quick to dismiss insinuations that the opposition could not cage the APC in many states in 2023.
“What happened in some states where the APC was alleged to have written results like Rivers was because the PDP and Labour were divided. But I tell you if they are united and come as a united front, I tell you the votes will count,” the veteran politician said.

The APC and the camp of Tinubu, it was gathered, are, however, not oblivious of their plans, especially in the North, and hence the seeming love game with Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, the 2023 presidential candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, in the 2023 election.

The Ganduje angle

The increasing vulnerability of the APC National Chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, which has been attended by the loud silence of Tinubu, it is alleged in some quarters, is part of the game to win the confidence of Kwankwaso that Ganduje is dispensable.

A source in the opposition told Sunday Vanguard, yesterday, that the APC and Tinubu may want to use Kwankwaso to appease the northern oligarchy which is not hiding its displeasure with what they claim as state capture by Tinubu.
“They may want to use Kwankwaso to reach out to the northern oligarchy,” a PDP chief said on the condition of anonymity.

However, given Kwankwaso’s tall aspirations for the presidency, there were speculations that the Tinubu camp could be offering him the running mate position in 2027.

That is a prospect that is especially gladdening to some in the opposition which believe that it would further ensnare the President in the North-East, the base of the incumbent Vice-President.

Whether Kwankwaso comes in or not, some in the opposition believe that the President has a tough job in his hands as the former Kano governor’s emergence in the APC may cause more harm than good for the President.

“The problem between Ganduje and Kwankwaso is one that cannot be settled on earth and, mark you, Ganduje has his own supporters in Kano and he is not one that can be easily pushed aside,” a source said.

Fierce contest

The 2023 poll was arguably the fiercest presidential contest in the country’s history as three candidates with impeccable political backgrounds threw their hats into the ring.

While Tinubu emerged as the flag bearer for the APC, Atiku and Obi respectively got approvals from the PDP and LP to represent them.

The election revived some fault lines that had held Nigeria hostage for years as many voters voted in favour of ethnicity and religion.

Out of the total 93.47 million registered voters, only 24.9 million persons voted in the poll, representing a meagre 26.72 per cent voter turnout, the lowest since the return to democracy in 1999. Of the 24.9 million, 8,794,726 people voted for Tinubu, who is currently the country’s President. With 6,984,520 votes, Atiku came second, just as Obi, who recorded 6,101,533 votes, came third.

After the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared Tinubu winner on March 1, an eight months legal battle ensued as Atiku, Obi, the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, and two others approached the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, to challenge INEC’s declaration, but PEPC affirmed Tinubu’s election.

Also, in a unanimous judgment on October 27, a seven-man panel of Justices, led by Inyang Okoro upheld the judgment of the PEPC. While reading the judgement, Justice Inyang Okoro, said: “On the whole, having resolved all the issues against the appellant, it is my view that there is no merit in the appeal and it is hereby dismissed. The judgment of the court below delivered on September 6, 2023, affirming the election of the second respondent as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is hereby affirmed.”