For those with any insight to how the political machinery runs in Nigeria, you will agree that the race to occupy the Presidential seat of power for 2019 has already began.
All the political meandering has already begun; the change of party affiliation, the indirect campaigning and the courting of political heavyweights has begun in earnest.
Nigeria’s democracy is nascent but it has it own peculiarity, distinguished from other democracies of other parts of the world.
Nigeria’s democracy is money democracy.
Whoever will sit on the seat of power in this country must have either of two things, or both: he must have money or he must have influence; or he must possess both.
The emergence of Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 showed us that a person without money but with influence can still win elections in this country.
The Turaki Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has both money and influence.
On Friday, the 24th November, 2017, Atiku, as he is known by many in Nigeria, resigned his membership of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Right now he has no party but there are strong indications that he is heading to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to become that party’s flag bearer for the 2019 Presidential elections.
The political permutations are easy to sum up from that point: the ruling APC shall be presenting the incumbent President Buhari as its presidential candidate; while Atiku shall muscle his way financially through the PDP to obtain the presidential ticket there.
The same way Jonathan went face to face with Buhari in 2015, all indications show that Atiku will be facing Buhari in the 2019 elections. This writer shall henceforth suggest few reasons why Atiku might win the 2019 presidential elections.
First, a disclaimer. This writer is not suggesting that Atiku is the best political material in Nigeria today. Far from it. I will be the first to enumerate the various allegations levied against Atiku.
It is common knowledge that Abubakar Atiku is not a flawless politician. The fact of his alleged corruption are so immense that it is believed that the US government is after him and that he will be arrested on arrival on the US soil for his alleged involvement in the Haliburton financial scandal.
Besides this, Atiku’s political empire is financed from a vast network of businesses that are sprawled through Adamawa State – most of these businesses originates from financial roots that are questionable. The allegations against Atiku are mountainous.
Nonetheless, Abubakar Atiku’s chances at the polls do not come from his own credentials as a person but from the failures of the incumbent government. This should not surprise anyone because the success of Buhari at the 2015 elections came mostly from the failures of Goodluck Jonathan’s government too.
Muhammadu Buhari and his government have frittered away too much goodwill and time, and have sat in Abuja for the most part of over two years, simply maintaining the status quo. Buhari promised Nigerians that he will deal corruption a death blow.
So far, the only people his anti graft agencies have gone after are people in the opposition. Buhari promised Nigerians so much that at some point after winning the elections, he has had to come out to repudiate these very promises.
Under Buhari, governance has entered full go-slow. Hampered by old age and ill health, Nigerians have realized that the Buhari they voted for is not the Buhari of 1984/85. The General seem to have simply gone to sleep while government agencies fight each other in public or contradict each other at press time.
The Nigerian people in North Eastern Nigeria would certainly thank the President for reducing the carnage of Boko Haram in that sector, but even that project stands unfinished.
Sporadic attacks on army formations and civilians still abound. Buhari has not lived up to the expectations of those who voted him into office. Atiku chances will be built principally around the Buhari government’s failures.
And this is not new. Even Buhari himself thrived on Jonathan’s failures. Jonathan failed to provide Nigerians security and under him corruption became almost legitimate. Buhari came with a CHANGE credential, built most around his military administration’s dealing with a corrupt Shagari government.
So if Atiku builds his campaign around Buhari’s failures, he will simply be doing the normal. Besides, the beauty of democracy is the ability of the electorate to hold the politicians accountable. If a politician fails in his first term, rather than be allowed to repeat, as Chief Igbenidion instructed Edo People concerning his son, Lucky, in the 2003 elections, that politician should be voted out of office! And Nigerians have learnt now that an incumbent can be defeated at the poles.
The second reason why Atiku stands a chance at the poles is his political sagacity and business sense. Simply put: if Atiku were to stand with Buhari in the 2019 elections, Nigerians will be left with very little to choose from. At the same time, we must make a choice of the better of them – what some may call the best of two evils.
In that case, Nigerians will remember that Atiku has managed his business empire well without government influences or funds for twelve years, since leaving power in 2007. The best business Buhari could put up were a few cows he has been tending since retiring from the military. Buhari is old and sickly. Atiku is old but agile (Atiku will be 72 in 2019). Buhari may have integrity but his lack of competence in handling the business of governance is clear to all. Atiku may not have integrity but he seem to be able to manage people.
Nigeria needs a good manager. Someone who will provide jobs for its youths, who will handle the business of governance as if there is indeed a Sherrif in town.
Lastly, here are Atiku’s chances at the 2019 polls: Usually there are essentially three geopolitical zones in the country – the North, West and East. Whoever wins an elections must take two of these three. Buhari thrived on the masses that voted for him in the North and West in 2015. With Atiku as his major challenger in 2019, all of these will change.
The votes in the North will be divided between Buhari and Atiku. Atiku winning mostly the North East and possibly the larger part of the North-central. Then the South-East and South-south, which are PDP strongholds, will vote Atiku to spite Buhari. Western Nigeria’s vote will be divided between Buhari and Atiku, with Atiku standing the chance of winning there too. With an electoral body like INEC that has truly become independent, Atiku stands a good chance of beating Buhari in the 2019 Presidential elections.
Again, the beauty of democracy is the opportunity for change to come to a nation’s body polity. If we have been promised change and we saw none, it makes sense to try another. And if Atiku fails us, we will change him also. Nigerians have the time and resources to invest in finding a leadership that works. And we shall continue to do this until we find a wise, visionary, productive and forward looking leader.
May Nigeria succeed.