Again, political gladiators are in the fields making moves ahead of the general election for the next democratic term. The umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has released timetables. As expected, President Muhammadu Buhari has distanced himself from a third-term agenda, unlike what transpired during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, which almost set the polity ablaze but was resisted by forces from within and outside, including Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, as he disclosed in a statement not long ago.
Although a call for an interim government and suspension of the polls were recently made by a prominent citizen, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, for a review of the Constitution, it cannot fly, as there is no provision in the Constitution for an interim regime. Besides, the legislative arm, as practiced globally, has continued to review clauses that appear obsolete, and that is how all nations nurture their democracy and improve their respective constitutions. Thus, an interim government is an aberration and over the bar.
In the All Progressives Congress (APC) camp, the national leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, opened the floor for courtesy visits to inform the President of his ambition. Many people have slated it, but in politics it is usually expected in any ruling party. In fact, the notion is not far from leveraging on the President to boost publicity. Apart from Tinubu, many others followed suit. However, one of the strongest forces in the APC camp is the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, by virtue of his position, alongside camaraderie with the people, which manifested many times during Buhari’s long foreign tours.
For example, on February 13, 2017, during one of Buhari’s foreign medical trips, Buhari’s arch-critic, Nyesom Wike, hosted Osinbajo in Rivers State to inaugurate his Peoples Democratic Party-led government projects. This suggests that Osinbajo is seemingly a bridge-builder who can shine even in the camp of the opposition. But what still clouds the people is, could Osinbajo, having been elevated to become Vice-President from Tinubu’s political dynasty, eventually fight with his leader, Tinubu, over a position? This is a million-dollar question.
However, from body language, Tinubu is conceivably merely stimulating political activities for his party to gain momentum. Tinubu, as a game-master in politics, can sacrifice personal interests for his party’s win. From records since 1999, Tinubu has not misfired in politics. Maybe, at the appropriate time, the intrigues and political arithmetic will be unveiled. But one thing is certain, the duo cannot contend with each other.
From the South-East, many have expressed interests in APC and clamoring for support to break the jinx of marginalization to occupy the seat of power as Nigeria’s President. They include the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, and former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, among others. But the challenge is the possibility of crucifying individual interests at the altar of unity. Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, is also pushing from the South-South region. From APC’s zoning formula, the party’s standard-bearer will likely emerge from the South, considering that Buhari, a northerner, will complete two terms of eight years on May 29, 2023. As no zone is exclusively anointed in the southern region, it suggests that any zone that can robustly put their heads together for a common interest will eventually fly the kite at the APC convention.
In the PDP corner, indications suggest that former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is seriously nursing his ambition despite the fact that the incumbent, Buhari, who hails from the same North, is about to complete a collective eight years of two terms in office. But the question is, though the Nigerian Constitution has no express provision for zoning, can’t people’s conscience guide them in their deeds? Commonsense, according to Josh Billings, is the “knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.”
PDP aspirants from the South-East include the former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, and former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, among others. From the South-South region, governors of Rivers and Akwa-Ibom states, Nyesom Wike and Emmanuel Udom, respectively, are also among presidential aspirants in PDP. In the camp of African Democratic Congress (ADC), former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu, is also beating his drum. However, beyond expression of interest, any aspirant with tribal sentiments and hate tendencies is dangerous to the polity. An ideal President of the country must accept all ethnic nations as his constituency and be devoid of nepotism.
Sensibly, particularly for sustaining national unity and promoting peaceful coexistence, as Buhari, a northerner is about to complete eight years, anyone from his region with robust ideas can support and sell whatever ideas he believes so much in to anyone from the other regions that the party may nominate as a candidate. No ethnic group has a monopoly of good leadership. And everything must not be expressly stated in the Constitution. Life is all about give and take, and this supports equity. Even the legal systems allow and protect individuals to determine their mode of cooperation.
So, the major hurdle facing the leading political parties is to fetch a credible candidate to productively succeed Buhari in 2023. Good policies birthed by this administration are enormous. Unfortunately, they have not reflected in the lives of the masses, which is important, owing to many reasons. So, it will be counter-productive to mess up the policies on the ground as it will be a disaster for the nation to fall out from the track again. It is important that the next administration must have the needed capacity to sustain the policies so that the nation doesn’t return to square one. Thus, a credible candidate with administrative skills and proven records who can radically, proficiently translate good ideas to reality is needed now.
•Umegboro is a public
affairs analyst and social