Thursday, 25 October 2018

Nigeria: 2019 and the politics of interest By AFOLABI GAMBARI




Image result for ATIKU AND BUHARI

Events of the past couple of weeks in Nigeria’s political arena have been as interesting as they are intriguing.

The emergence of former vice president Atiku Abubakar as the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party has made it even more intriguing as close-watchers have described him as a formidable force that could rattle the incumbent PresidentMohammadu Buhari who is the sole flag bearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress, if not upset the apple cart, as it was.



As the days roll by, it is increasingly becoming a politics of interest, although it still has so much to do with it. Buhari has tasked Nigerians to continue to rest their trust on him, saying he would commit himself to further work for me if they get him reelected
in next year’s poll. He has specifically warned Nigerians off those he says are bent on returning to the path of ruin from where he also says he pulled the country from after winning his mandate in 2015. Indeed, he has not spared any opportunity to ask Nigerians to choose between him who seeks to free them from slavery and others who seek to enslave them.


Abubakar, on the hand, says he has come as the Messiah to rescue Nigerians from long years of suffering that has subjected them subhuman beings.


 He has specifically expressed his undying belief on the need to have the country restructured along the line of what he calls ‘balance’.


He promises to provide employment for the jobless by building new industries and resuscitating the moribund others. He also prides himself as ‘broad-based’ Nigerian who requires little or no prodding to identify what ails the citizenry and which needs
sustainable fixing.

At every turn, he does not hesitate to drive it Home that he has wives from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, an advantage that he also says would serve his presidential ambition well inadequate mobilization of voters.


To be sure, a growing number of Nigerians tend to flow with Abubakar as well as tend to trust him going forward. This is far from surprising, however, despite Buhari still enjoying a huge followership especially in the North West. Many Nigerians have lived on the promise of ‘Change’ handed them as the lot of them sought a fresh atmosphere
after suffering series of frustration in the last dispensation. But the promise thinned as the weeks rolled into months leading to three years and five months.

 More frustration has since erupted as many Nigerians desire yet another change in the country’s leadership amidst assurances from the government that a ‘rosy future’ lay ahead.
This particular situation appears to be what Abubakar has sought to exploit, hence he began to dish messages of hope to Nigerians almost immediately after he won the PDP presidential election primaries earlier in the month in Port Harcourt.

To underscore his resolve to wrest the power that the PDP lost to APC in 2015, Abubakar also moved quickly to close ranks with the candidates he defeated at the Port
Harcourt primaries by promising to ‘compensate’ them for the loss they suffered at the exercise.
 Safe for a couple who opted out of the‘deal’ to reflect on their political future, he has handed the others coordinating jobs as he looks forward to recording sweeping victory
over Buhari next year.


There is no doubting that majority of Nigerians have settled to take their lot between APC and PDP, although credible parties have also since emerged to provide credible options. Lots of aspiring voters see both major parties as having structures more upgraded than the auxiliary parties whose candidates seem to lack serious national
spread and appeal.


South Easterners appear comfortable with Abubakar’s choice of former Anambra State governor Peter Obi as a vice presidential candidate; an apparent huge relief from the deprivation they insist they have endured under the Buhari administration where they always charge they are shortchanged.

 Notwithstanding that IPOB kingpin Nnamdi Kanu, who had been a fugitive for more than one year, suddenly surfaced last week in Jerusalem, reiterated in a speech his earlier resolve that the south easterners would boycott the 2019 poll, a large number of people from the zone have declared full loyalty and support for Abubakar, underlying the possibility of a crack in the southeasterners’ rank where dissidents would keep kicking against Obi’s choice.
 
But it remains to be seen how far the ‘kicking’ can last going into the presidential election.


It probably need not be pointed out that the cult supports the Buhari enjoys in the North West would still come to play as it did in 2015, thanks to religious interest with the vote seeker being Muslim.

Abubakar, being Muslim as well, would also seek to garner votes from his fellow faithful in the zone. Should ‘other factors’ work for Abubakar in the South East, South East and even South West (as expected), however, Buhari knows he must prepare for real battle at the poll.

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