Implications of Buhari’s second term declaration
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, showed that he shares nothing in common with the former post-apartheid President of South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela.
At the rescheduled National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the President threw his hat in the ring by declaring his intention to seek a second term in office.
As expected the President’s declaration puts an end to months of speculations about his political future, not minding that he had for long indicated by his legendary body language that his mind was made up to seek a second term of another four years.
At least for now Nigerians can begin to look to 2019 with clear sightedness as to the desirability or otherwise of another four years for the incumbent.
Implications for the polity
The sudden declaration by Buhari has a lot of implications for the polity. In the first place, the pronouncement would put enormous pressures on the opposition, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the third force, promoted by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
National Chairman of United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, had been saying that it would be interesting to have Buhari on the ballot in 2019.
Okorie believes, like others in opposition, that beating Buhari would be very easy given the socio-economic condition of Nigerians.
Buhari’s declaration would more than anything else expedite action on the political field, particularly for those political parties foot-dragging on their intendment for political understanding, alliance or even merger.
The Lagos State chapter of Labour Party (LP) could be said to have beat the gun by fusing into the Action Democratic Party (ADP) for the purposes of prosecuting the 2019 governorship election in the state.
For the PDP the knowledge of who the APC flag bearer is going to be would help them to choose their candidate wisely and avoid such extra-curricular strategies that could work against the long term fortune of the party in the Presidential poll.
PDP should by Buhari’s declaration know that 2019 would guzzle money. With PDP in mind, the President had told the APC NEC that: “the people we are fighting are rich.”
It is possible therefore that in considering the person to fly its flag in the Presidential poll, PDP might be moved to factor in the ability to fund the electioneering and mobilize the necessary funds for the election.
However, the current level of mobilization of the younger segment of the population to take over leadership, money may not be all that matters in the forthcoming Presidential election.
‘Not too young to run’ has brought a great dividing wall on the demographic collective in the country. This would also be among the indices to guide the opposition parties in selecting their flag bearers.
The compound reading of all the above factors suggests that 2019 might not be an easy decision for Nigerians. There are chances that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may also be stretched by the likelihood of a run off in the Presidential poll.
That is if the ruling party does not intrude the power of incumbency in an obtrusive way.
Implications for APC
The President’s desire for a second term would mean different things to the ruling party, particularly the ongoing plans for an elective convention.
It is too early to fathom why the President made a caveat in his disapproval for the tenure elongation by pleading that waivers be granted to members of the embattled National Working Committee (NWC) and state executive members that intend to contest in the party’s congresses.
It must have dawned on the President that the party might find itself in a very precarious situation if most or virtually all the NWC members decide to resign en masse so as to qualify to stand for re-election during the convention.
What that would mean is foisting a compelling need for a caretaker committee on the party, which would no doubt provide a good setting for squabbles to set in.
That could have been what the Governor Simenon Lalong-led Technical Committee meant when they said their recommendations take care of all disparate positions of the pro-and anti-elongation forces.
Invariably the President must have seen that giving the Odigie-Oyegun NWC a mass sacking could have a deleterious after effect on his re-election, because denying the NWC opportunity to seek re-election would rub off negative his desire for a second term.
It is also possible that those pushing the President to consider a second term may have linked a second term for him with that of some of the prime movers of the outgoing NWC.
This fact comes to light when it is recalled that most of the pro-tenure elongation elements are those on the front line in the call on Buhari to re-contest.
Declaring his interest in a second term contest Buhari had said: “People have been asking me to declare for re-election and some have been asking me when I am going to declare. I want to give the NEC the honour to be the first to hear it. I have decided to contest the 2019 elections.”
Perhaps the President may have seen the proposition for a waiver for Odigie-Oyegun and the NWC as a win-win setting that could guarantee the party of victory, even as he pleaded for unity (the unity that could come only when no bloc is disgruntled or mistreated).
Accordingly the President asserted: “In this circumstance, the party should officially issue a statement on the above Waivers so that our house may be full. We all must not be ignorant of the times, and the journey that is ahead of us.
APC will win in 2019 “Just like our party symbol; ‘the Broom,’ which typifies strength in unity, let us strive to remain united in our purpose.
Victory is sure by the Grace of God, and together we must continue to sanitize Nigeria’s political environment.”
Boon to Buharists
The declaration came as a big boon to Buharists in APC, who have been dreaming of such a development. Most of the positive reactions to the President’s announcement came from the Buhari supporters.
For instance, shortly after the ‘proclamation’ the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) Enugu State chapter sent out a statement saying, “it is a launching pad for the progress and prosperity of our dear fatherland.”
In the statement signed by its chairman, Chief Anike Nwoga, BSO said: “Our celebration is not only because he has paged and reaffirmed the ardent appeal, which Nigerian compatriots had canvassed long time ago; but for the truism that his second term will consolidate the critical and massive infrastructural foundation he is laying.