With the tornado of desertions that has struck the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), not abating, many strongly believe it is all over for President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term quest. How is he going to secure an encore riding on the clipped wings of a severely battered bird?
Why would he be naïve not to expect diminished goodwill and vote in 2019 after a rocky ride of nearly four years, a period that seems to have birthed a withering economic climate? Would the rump of support Buhari now wields bring up new steam to repeat the winning ways of 2015 at next year’s poll? Compatriots interrogating the current happenings with these concerns think our beloved septuagenarian president hasn’t a dog’s chance of staging a comeback under those dreary circumstances.
Really? Not so. Because there is another argument that it’s not all over for Buhari yet, unless he allows it by default. Those who present this sunny view, neither wailers nor hailers, say the APC and the Nigerian leader can still turn the tide. They are offering options they believe would purge the scene and permit sane room for sanguine politics and elections. Here we go…
They wish the president could resign on account of old age and the divisive tendencies the country has experienced since his advent. After leaving the scene, he should work with his party to bring up a younger candidate not tarred with the soot that has caused the disaffection threatening the soul of APC.
It’s not dishonourable or humiliating for a head of government to do only a term in the interest of national cohesion and peace, according to those pushing this position. They refer notably to Nelson Mandela of South Africa, who overcame the pernicious African bug and stepped down as president after one term. He has since been celebrated and hoisted as a paragon of democracy. This month the whole world stood still for him, in posthumous commemoration of his centenary birthday.
There is the possibility that a second outing would have demystified Mandela, the same way some Nigerian wailers are contending that Buhari’s famed integrity would have been intact if he had remained unelected. There is a truism, first mooted in the Bible, that you can retain your respected mystery only as long as you don’t talk. You become naked when you open your mouth and identify with an interest in a fray.
…the non-wailer and non-hailer citizens are asking this question as they contemplate a Buhari out on the hustings again in 2019: How come there is so much indiscipline in a government under a man reputed for scant tolerance for unruliness?
There’s a second option. Buhari can replay the magic of 2015 if he reinvents himself by sacking politically wounded members of his government. No matter what role they played in bringing him to power and the influence of their godfathers notwithstanding, the president would have to sacrifice them in order to attempt to reclaim some credible space for campaign in 2019, according to the proponents. They want him to act decisively on embarrassing scandals that have hit his administration especially the one that has entangled Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun.
In a word, the president should no longer keep the ministers and others so compromised in his team. He should release them and let the prosecutorial arm of the system take over. He is also being asked to release the likes of Sambo Dasuki and Sheikh El-Zak Zaky, both of whom have been freed by the courts.
Still more. Buhari can win again if he stops the killing spree across the land. He must change the headship of the regnant security apparatus. Nigerians no longer have confidence in them. He must also not swim against the tide of the popular clamour for state police and restructuring.
The current arrangement has stunted growth in the states and pulverised the citizens. It’s the reason there is an unemployment crisis in the country. No serious economic and entrepreneurial activity is taking place in the land, except politics and the do-or-die race for power among the effete elite. There must be a rearrangement of the polity to make way for a centrifugal order.
Finally, the non-wailer and non-hailer citizens are asking this question as they contemplate a Buhari out on the hustings again in 2019: How come there is so much indiscipline in a government under a man reputed for scant tolerance for unruliness? He sends a nominee for a top-flight appointment to the Senate for confirmation. But an agency in his administration writes the lawmakers to trash the president’s choice and heads don’t roll.
There’s also the infantile squabble between Labour Minister Chris Ngige and APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole over the latter threatening to expel the minister from the party. The president isn’t intervening. It’s la meme chose (as the French would put it) in the case of a service chief asked to move to the scene of carnage and insecurity and tame the crisis. He is delinquent and more deaths occur. The president himself admits the security chief flouted his life-saving directive. Again, all has been calm: No fatal disciplinary action to announce the famous arrival of the new sheriff in town.
So we conclude: Buhari’s compatriots have spoken. Will the president heed their counsel?
Banji Ojewale writes from Ota, Ogun State.