Rough road to the 2019 elections

[File] Election

The road to 2019 is rough and strewn with thorns for both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition parties.

Intrigues, shenanigans and high-wire horse trading that usually characterise elections in Nigeria are looming. Politicians are talking tough and wanting to impress it on the public that it is either them or no other.

The attacks and counter attacks create fear in the people and the economy.

There is apprehension as to whether or not the gladiators would allow the election to hold; whether they won’t provoke crisis that may scuttle the elections.

Though, these disputes are normal in Nigeria’s political experience, the impression created that elections in Nigeria can’t be conducted in a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere is disturbing.

We are at the threshold of the elections and it is hard to predict what is going to happen in the weeks ahead.

As things stand now, neither the ruling APC nor the opposition parties, specifically PDP, is on a smooth sail.

Both are facing turbulent waters ahead of the primaries that must be conducted.

Starting with the APC, the mode of conducting the primaries is tearing the party apart.

While the party leadership decided on direct primaries to ensure transparency, curb corruption and compromising of delegates, most of the state governors of the party preferred the tainted indirect primaries that would give them undue advantage to manipulate the delegates in their own interest.

The party is divided barely five months to the election.

The APC leadership is on collision course with the states that have refused to abide by the party decision.

Whether or not there would be amicable resolution of the impasse for the party to reunite for the battle ahead is mere conjecture.

Nigerian politicians are uncompromising when it comes to survival. They don’t even mind sinking the boat to ensure that their “enemies” don’t get the upper hand.

Apart from this, there are recriminations bothering on the high cost of the party’s expression of interest and nominations forms.

Many people feel being shut out since they couldn’t afford to price.

Added to that is the decision of the party to have the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari as the sole presidential candidate.

The PDP made this same mistake in 2015 by having former president Goodluck Jonathan as its sole presidential candidate, which contributed to its failure. The APC didn’t learn any lesson from that.

While it is unimaginable that any person would stand up to challenge Buhari for fear of not to be branded as disloyal, it would have been better if people were allowed to challenge him but let the decision be made at the primaries in favour of Buhari. That way, democracy would be deepened.

But shutting people out shows that the President is not even sure he would scale the primaries.

There is pent-up anger. The APC should watch its steps and also be wary of its members.

If the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, could quit the party at this crucial moment, then, it is difficult to trust anybody anymore.

Beyond the internal issues bugging the party, the mother of all battles the APC is going to fight is its determination to remove Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

These two principal officers of the Upper and Lower chambers of the National Assembly (NASS), played on the intelligence of the APC for three years plus pretending to be members of the party while belonging to the opposition PDP.

They did not hesitate to abandon APC at the most inauspicious time that the party needed their weight against the PDP.

The implication of their defections is that, at the time a general election is around the corner, the National Assembly is controlled by the opposition.

The APC is having sleepless nights and unable to fathom it out.

Consequently, the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole has vowed to remove the two principal officers from their posts.

How he is going to accomplish this task is yet to be seen.

Legal experts say the APC needs two-thirds majority of members of the NASS to remove Saraki and even Dogara.

At the last count in the Senate, the APC doesn’t seem to have that critical number. How else do you remove Saraki/Dogara?

How is Oshiomhole going to do this when Saraki, over the weekend, without mincing words, stated categorically, that he cannot be impeached and will never resign?

He made the statement while visiting former military president Ibrahim Babangida in Minna.

Babangida reportedly lent his support behind Saraki’s presidential ambition.

Without doubt, APC is in a historic fix that requires Oshiomhole to deploy all his Platonic cum Socratic intellect and wisdom to deal with the problem and pull the party out of the quagmire.

The PDP and its associated Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) are also facing their own bunch of troubles.

The trouble has to do with how the flag bearer of the opposition emerges.

At the last count, 13 heavy weights have lined up as presidential aspirants under the PDP.

They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, former Minister/Governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, incumbent Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, former Governor Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi, incumbent Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, incumbent Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo, former Minister of Special Duties from Kebbi State, Tanimu Turaki, Hon. Datti Baba-Ahmed and former Governor of Plateau State, Jonah David Jang.

Altogether, there are about 46 presidential hopefuls from the opposition parties.

While 13 aspirants will slug it out under the PDP umbrella to choose one flag bearer, the other opposition party flag bearers will be selected under their various parties.

At the end of the primaries, there will be one PDP flag bearer versus the rest of the opposition presidential aspirants.

It is at this point that the opposition will bend or break.

The CUPP had indicated that it would field one consensus candidate to battle Buhari, the incumbent president.

Who will be that consensus candidate? Will he/she come from the PDP or the other opposition parties? This is the crux of the matter.

It is at this point that Nigerians will know what direction the presidential election will take.

If the opposition parties show patriotism, bury their personal ambition and come up with one consensus candidate, then, the APC will face a formidable fight. That same coalition ousted PDP in 2015.

But if the opposition fails to rally around one candidate and forge a common front, I am afraid that the APC could beat the hedge being built around it.

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