Ministers that served during the last administration of Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, converged on Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, to chart a course towards the 2019 presidential election thereby setting the tone for what to expect, writes Jaiyeola Andrews.
Although 2019 is two years away and the ruling- All Progressives Congress (APC) has barely spent two out of its four – year tenure, the opposition-Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) has made a bold statement on its readiness to wrestle power from the grip of APC.
In an emergency meeting in Abuja presided over by former Minister of Special Duties during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, Taminu Kabiru Turaki, attended by not less than 20 former PDP ministers, the meeting unanimously resolved to shop for a credible presidential candidate among the ex-ministers and if need be, look elsewhere. They challenged the ailing incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari to re-contest the 2019 presidential election and face defeat.
The former PDP ministers exuding optimism of possibly coasting home to victory when their candidate eventually faces Buhari if he decides to re-contest, noted that they would not seek Buhari’s ouster through ill health, but through the ballot. Checks however, indicated that the renewed confidence being expressed by the PDP ex-ministers may not be unconnected with the general perception in the nation’s polity over the below par performance of the APC-led government of President Buhari occasioned by the economic recession that has brought untold hardships on the populace.
The ex-ministers knocked Buhari on his position over the ill health of the then President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, now deceased when he was down with ill health. Reading the resolutions of the former minister, Turaki averred that; ‘’People behave differently to different situations. We are not unaware of the point President Muhammadu Buhari made when the late Yar’Adua was sick. For us as Former Ministers Forum, we wish him speedy recovery. We want him to come back and continue the job for which he persistently fought to be elected and for which he was elected. We want him to come and continue because we want to defeat him in the 2019 election and not anybody else.’’
One is wont to ask the former ministers if they are having plan B to defeat any other presidential candidate on the platform of APC in case Buhari fails to re-contest on account of age or health. The ex-ministers seemed to have narrowed down their ambition to defeating Buhari, a task that may be costly.
Two Parties With Divided Houses
There is no gainsaying the fact that the two main political parties, the ruling – APC and the major opposition, the PDP are embroiled in intra-parties crises. As polarised as PDP is, so also is the APC and the leadership of both parties have been finding it difficult to resolve the seemingly intractable internal crises rocking their parties.
Shortly after it lost power to APC in the 2015 presidential election, the PDP instead of rallying around to form a formidable opposition, the party plunged into factionalisation with the Senator Ahmed Makarfi- led Caretaker Committee of the party on one side and the National Chairman of the party, Senator Bunu Modu Sheriff- led faction on the other side. The two factions are embroiled in legal tussles whose outcome will be determined by the Supreme Court following an appeal lodged by Makarfi-led faction challenging the court ruling affirming Sheriff as the National Chairman of the party.
Except the two factions are able to reach consensus for unity irrespective of the Supreme Court judgment, the party’s aim at clinching power in 2019 may be a mirage.
In the case of the ruling – APC, there has been disquiet among its members in different states as most of the chapters have been crying foul of lack of internal democracy characterised by imposition of candidates. Even among the leadership of APC, there is also bickering with the most noticeable between the National Chairman of the party Chief Odigie Oyegun and the National Leader of the party, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu. The duo recently engaged in war of words which is an indication that all is not well with the party and if the party fails to put its house in order, certainly retaining power at the centre in 2019 may prove an uphill task.
Disenchantment in the Nation’s Polity Ahead 2019
To say there is disenchantment among Nigerian electorate occasioned by the economic recession is to say the obvious. The nation has never had it so bad as hunger, unemployment, crimes, and other vices pervade the nation’s landscape.
There have also been criticisms in various quarters across the nation over the competence of APC-led government to take the nation out of the woods. Most Nigerians on the street would tell that the party has failed to deliver on its campaign promises to the people, a situation which suggests lack of a concrete blueprint to develop the country.
At any given opportunity, the APC laid the blame of the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria to what it described as the misrule of the PDP , while in power through corruption, insisting that it would take some time to clean the Augean Stable before returning Nigeria to the path of progress.
However, PDP is blaming the ruling- APC for lacking direction on effective governance but only interested in the persecution of perceived political opponents rather than focusing more on the development of the nation.
As accusations and counter accusations rage between APC and PDP with the 2019 elections looming in the corner and the economic recession still hanging menacingly on the horizon, those nurturing presidential ambitions have been working tirelessly, albeit underground, on how to secure their party’s candidature as well as winning the electoral contest.
Likely Presidential Aspirants in PDP
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party has set the tone for the race as to who occupies the Presidential Villa in Abuja come 2019 and the party did that with the coming together of ministers that served during its administration beginning from the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to that of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The ex-ministers at their emergency meeting in Abuja resolved to support one of their own for the presidential position.
Alh. Sule Lamido
Sule Lamido is the immediate past governor of Jigawa State. He also served as Foreign Affairs minister during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Lamido who is outspoken and versed in politics, never hid his ambition to contest the presidential election come 2019.
The former Jigawa State Governor, who is a loyalist of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, is seen as a strong presidential candidate from the North who will give other aspirants a good run in the contest if he eventually declares his ambition to run.
Turaki is the former Minister for Special Duties who is likely to also throw his hat in the ring in the presidential contest come 2019. All things being equal, the former minister is equally a formidable force within the PDP fold.
It is however not clear as to who may indicate their interest to run for the presidency among the former ministers in the PDP administration. But as events unfold with the former ministers putting their acts together, the picture will become clearer.
APC’s Likely Presidential Aspirants
President Muhammadu Buhari
The President who has spent two years out of his four- year tenure is presently recuperating in a London hospital from ill health. But if his health permits alongside his age and he decides to run for second term, the APC will likely root for him especially with his credentials in the war against corruption and insecurity.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu
If at any point in time the incumbent President fails to seek for second term, the APC Leader, Tinubu may join the race except his party insists that their choice should come from the North. Tinubu is deft in the art of politicking and he cannot be easily wished away in the political equation in the country.
The former Vice President to Olusegun Obasanjo is not new to presidential contests. He is easily the Nigerian politician who contested who has contested the highest number of times for the highest political office in the land. The Waziri Adamawa’s political sagacity cannot be toyed with if he decides to throw his hat into the ring once more. If Buhari decides against seeking re-election, Atiku may prove a hard nut to crack in APC primaries if he runs on the platform of his party. Checks however revealed that Atiku has been strategizing and oiling his political machine towards 2019 but as things stand he has not indicated his interest to run publicly may be do so towards the rundown to 2019.
Some governors on the platform of APC are said to be nursing presidential ambition come 2019 if the incumbent decides against re-contesting. It is being touted that both Kaduna and Borno State governors are nursing such ambition. Recently, coalition of northern youths who gave quit notice to Igbos living in the North accused Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna and Kashim Shettima of Borno of kicking against the quit notice given to Igbos in the North because of their presidential aspirations.
Borno State governor however debunked the claims of the northern youths that he was nursing presidential ambition, noting that the quit notice was uncalled for and should be condemned by all Nigerians. Shettima said the unity of the country was paramount as all Nigerians have the right to live in any part of the country.
Though 2019 is still two years away, what the nation’s political terrain is already witnessing increased activity as consultations have commenced in the different political camps by politicians with presidential ambition.