By Ahmad Mubarak Tanimu
It’s 2022. The twilight of Buhari’s administration is here, and the political permutations that will produce his successor are about to come bare. “Change” was the mantra in 2014. The Giwa barrack attack in March by Boko Haram, the Kibaku school girls abduction in April, the capture of Gwoza in August, the occupation of Bama in September and the ransacking of Baga in December by the terrorist group together with the over ten thousand lives lost during the year made 2014 an unforgettable year.
Goodluck Jonathan carried so many political accruals that outweighed his political assets, giving him an unfavourable political balance sheet that led to his well-anticipated defeat at the polls in 2015, becoming the first-ever one-term president in Nigeria. It’s an unusual political crash that the former presidential spokesman, Segun Adeniyi, calls ‘Against The Run of Play’.
Jonathan’s political misfortune didn’t start in 2014. He promised Nigerians a breath of fresh air after winning the 2011 elections. His major decision after the victory was fuel subsidy removal. He sent the then CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the then Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to beg and convince Nigerians to accept subsidy removal.
The first nail on the political coffin of Jonathan was hit on January 1, 2012, with the announcement of fuel subsidy removal, which birthed a national outrage and mass protest known today in our history books as Occupy Nigeria. After that, Boko haram insurgency, the slump of oil prices in the global market, and the PDP crisis he poorly managed sent him to an early political abyss.
Whilst all these were happening, one man positioned himself suitably and leveraged on every misstep of the President, often described as clueless. The man is Muhammadu Buhari. When the commoner was not happy, as late political siege J.S Tarka would say, Buhari offered himself as the hope, the happiness and the long-awaited missing piece of the jigsaw. Buhari moulded all Nigeria’s problems into just one thing that he kept saying repeatedly; ‘corruption, corruption, corruption’. He then placed himself as the one and only man with an incorruptible toga in the political arena that could solve Nigerian security challenges and economic turmoil.
He became president in 2015, Nigeria’s economic crisis soared, and like the sunshine, insecurity moved from east to west in the North. But unlike 2014, in 2022, no one is leveraging Buhari’s ineptitude. Though to be fair to Buhari, with Nigeria’s over-reliance on oil for export revenue and foreign consumer goods, an economic crisis will always be inevitable in the situation of a fall in the global prices of oil.
The polity in Nigeria still looks primordial. No one is ready for issue-based conversation. Even the pundits often put in more sentiment than logic in their analysis. The reaction of Buhari’s detractors shortly after Tinubu’s declaration to run for the presidency in 2023 says it all. They want him to surrender a platform he built with his sweat over some decades of enduring and surviving political persecution under Abacha, Obasanjo and Jonathan.
One doesn’t need to be a seer or bookmaker to predict that Nigerians will face Tinubu and Atiku’s choices in 2023. This could be a run that will not dig and damage the image of Buhari. Atiku may keep things ethical as he did in 2019, whilst Tinubu will primarily defend the Buhari administration throughout the campaign and make promises of improvements.
In 2014, there was an exodus from the ruling party to the opposition. Governors Kwankwaso of Kano, Wammako of Sokoto, Amaechi of Rivers, Ahmed of Kwara and Nyako of Adamawa all defected to the APC and other party chieftains like Atiku, Saraki and Baraje. The defection made the ruling party’s defeat imminent even before the elections.
On the contrary, the ruling party is taking governors to its fold this time. Governors Umuahi of Ebonyi, Matawalle of Zamfara and Ayade of Crossriver defected to the ruling APC last year. While the long-awaited APC national convention can make or mar the party’s fortune in the next general elections, the current atmosphere spells gloom for the opposition again come 2023.
Going by the non-negotiability of Nigeria’s unity as enshrined in the constitution and the unwritten political arrangement of political parties in Nigeria, the next president should be ethnically and culturally Igbo. Still, the ethnic group can only claim that stake in the PDP, a party they supported wholeheartedly since 1999. They rejected the APC, and I don’t think the party will pamper the same region with a presidential ticket in 2023. I am harbouring a feeling that an Igbo presidency is all Nigeria needs to turn its fortune around as a country. It will bring integration and a sense of belonging for all, which may translate into socioeconomic success. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Ahmad Mubarak Tanimu wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org.