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Published On: Wed, Nov 9th, 2016

Buhari’s Second Term Fantasy

For those conversant with leadership in Nigeria, it is obvious that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is struggling to drive radical changes, particularly in the fight against corruption. Although not a few people around the world had commended this government for the initiative taken in the fight against corruption, there is a general assumption that the initiative is already defective through its selective disposition.

For some, one term tenure of four years is not long enough to effectively actualise the Buhari leadership agenda, which some say could revive Nigeria economically at the long run, but the bone of contention is, is President Buhari playing the politics of second term at all? If so, is he doing it as though he is learning from history?

In her recent intervention, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari noted that if her husband seeks a second term she may not campaign for him. Though not many reacted to her anticipation that her husband may seek another term, the fact that his body language suggests that he might serve only for a term and quit, but the truth is that such critical interjections cannot be taken for granted.

‎If the First Lady went that far, aside the fact that it was epic and first of its kind, some other elements in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), including the likes of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu and some others are not comfortable with goings-on in the party.

Now, it is becoming more glaring that some forces within the APC have been assigned to decimate the political relevance of some of those that worked for the success of the party in the 2015 presidential election. An observer recently said those saddled with that responsibility are playing “ruthless politics”, but in doing that, it is best to evaluate if such antics could yield.

Once, during an interview with prominent politician and one of the closest allies o‎f the late foremost Yoruba political leader, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, despite being in opposing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with former Lagos State governor and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, referred to him as a notable political tactician. Babatope has always had the respect for Tinubu’s political intelligence.

It was an interview designed to commemorate his 70th birthday ‎anniversary, and he was talking about the political atmosphere in the country then, when he said, “That boy (Tinubu), is a rascal. He is a political tactician. I think you know he learnt politics in Chicago, where some of the best politicians in the world live. You can only take him for granted at your peril”.

Whatever that message meant obviously did not sell to former President Jonathan, because if it did, the kind of pact he had with Tinubu and some others that gave him his first term in office would have been reviewed to hand him a second term. But that was never the case. Jonathan was shown the way out while seeking another four years in office because he had lost his friends, particularly in the South-west.

Something very significant is that some individuals, most of them students and beneficiaries of Tinubu’s school of politics, who were smart to notice Jonathan’s political naivety, ‎quickly took advantage of the situation, promising to snatch the South-west away from Tinubu for Jonathan. Of course, that became easy-money-making opportunities for them, most of whom are now perpetual visitors at the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Interestingly, the name of former Lagos State governor and Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has been featuring as one of the forces that worked against Tinubu‎ in the Ondo State APC primary. While it has been established as untrue because the minister has refused to be part of the ongoing politicking, Fashola too has refused to come out to address it for strategic reasons.

However, for the forces against Tinubu, it is pertinent to note that though they may be good leaders too, they wield insignificant influence in Lagos politics, let alone South-west. They also do not enjoy the kind of Tinubu’s political patronage and can never boast to have better relationship with Lagos and South-west politicians, let alone boast of Tinubu’s political pedigree and investment in people.

From all indications, it is popular for now to hang with anti-Tinubu forces – it is an easy avenue to gain relevance, but the question is: how far has it taken them? The answer is not far! It is a general belief that former president Olusegun Obasanjo would not have hesitated before nailing and putting Tinubu behind bars if he had his way. But despite their cat and mouse relationship, Tinubu was unscathed even as he opposed Obasanjo for the period he was in office.

‎When eventually he became an open threat to the Jonathan administration and the former president joined forces with other progressives to oust the government, with the likes of former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro‎, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode and others who tried to demystify him, Tinubu still came out unhurt.

Like Tinubu, Kwankwaso too is not having the best of time in the APC. There are indications that the Kano politician, who came second to President Buhari in the APC primary and who is currently a serving Senator, is getting the nod to vie for the presidency.

In some quarters in the ruling APC, the belief is that the cold war between the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and Kwankwaso, which has degenerated into full blown hostility between the two leaders and their supporters, has the hand of those working ahead of 2019, either for themselves or for President Buhari. The assumption is ‎that Kwankwaso’s refusal to step down for Buhari during the APC primary was what set him against the president.

The former Kano governor was reported to have stormed out of a peace meeting called by Governor Nasir el-Rufai and Tinubu before the APC presidential primaries in Lagos, insisting that the party must provide a level playing field for the better candidate to emerge as the standard bearer of the party.

And were it not for last minute moves by Tinubu, El-Rufai and former Rivers State governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Kwankwaso, observers said would have emerged the presidential candidate of the APC as he had the single largest delegation to the primaries.

As a political party, it is expected that interests could differ, and it could bring about a certain degree of friction. But in designing how a party like the APC could survive within a reasonable time in national polity, such frictions must be minimised. And rather than working assiduously to cut members of the party ‘to size’ in defined lone interest, shouldn’t those wielding such powers rather work round the clock to end the cold wars and continue to sell the government and its failing agenda to Nigerians?

Where the well-thought-out ‎schemes to reduce some members of the party continue till 2019, Nigerians can be sure to witness yet another highly competitive election, which like the 2015 general election, would be characterised by another regrouping and realignment aimed at stopping the president at all cost. That scheme too is already on and it will come to manifestation in the fullness of time.

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As a political party, it is expected that interests could differ, and it could bring about a certain degree of friction. But in designing how a party like the APC could survive within a reasonable time in national polity, such frictions must be minimised. And rather than working assiduously to cut members of the party ‘to size’ in defined lone interest, shouldn’t those wielding such powers rather work round the clock to end the cold wars and continue to sell the government and its failing agenda to Nigerians?

Source: Thisday

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