The major problem of Africa, beyond those of the socio-economic hue, remains a civilian-to-civilian transition of power. Once those holding the reins of power get it wrong, chaos often results. And, Nigeria appears to be headed in a chaotic direction today, with just barely three weeks from another round of general elections.
Unlike what usually happens, where an opposition political party or a coalition of same, often cry foul towards an election, the looming implosion appears to be within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Desperate to sustain itself in office, the ruling party often does everything possible to ensure the opposition does not stand a chance in a fair electoral contest.
This time, it is the ruling party that appears to be working towards its defeat through the apparently questionable policies put in place by those the APC has entrusted power with, especially its acknowledged leader, President Muhammadu Buhari. Long before the party ‘s presidential primaries, it was an open secret that former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did not enjoy Buhari’s support.
Shortly after he became president in 2015, it was clear Buhari did not want anything to do with Tinubu despite having the populist politician’s men in his cabinet. And, observers believe till date this is the root of the many challenges faced by the Buhari administration. Sidelining Tinubu, who appears to have been the brain behind many of APC’s electoral promises, was seen by observers as Buhari cutting his nose to spite his face. This soon became apparent when spokespersons of the administration began distancing themselves from definite promises made to Nigerians by the APC.
Reports have it that Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, led efforts to ensure a temporary truce between Tinubu and her husband in the early days of the ‘war’. But the cost of the face – off between both men showed in the poor policies implemented by Buhari’s government, resulting in today’s socio- economic and security mess. “Buhari was not the author of our blueprint for governance. It was a coalition effort spearheaded by the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) wing of the APC. Once our Leader (Tinubu) was shut out, he kept the way forward to himself,” says a highly placed official in Abuja.
In the words of the man, who insisted on anonymity, “You can see the results of Mr. President’s action. He and his men do not know the way forward. Yet, they shut out the man who can show them the way out due to bitterness. Who does that and get a quality result? They want a Northerner and Fulani back in power. They are working for an Atiku Abubakar victory, which is a very sad reflection of how far we have come as a party (APC).”
He insisted that the fuel and currency crises being experienced in Nigeria were deliberately put in place to paint APC black, as those currently occupying the seat of power do not want the party ‘s presidential candidate to emerge victorious in the coming general elections. Some of what he said are not new. Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai, has made the same claim, which was later retweeted by Mrs Buhari. Of course, Tinubu had subtly made the same claim during his campaign trip to Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. Now, a leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has made the same claim. Adebanjo was emphatic that the negative moves were being made to ensure that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, emerges victorious from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Sub-ethnic sentiments and suspicion run deep in Nigeria, threatening its fragile political base, with each of the many ethnic groups in the country claiming those in power from the other ethnic groups are sidelining them. Buhari and Atiku are both Fulanis and Northerners. An unwritten agreement among the political parties in Nigeria is that positions should be zoned. Of course, it is not the first time that aspirants out of the considered zone would seek to contest, but it is the first time such an aspirant would have his way, especially in the PDP, which had sustained the tradition of zoning since 1999.
Adebanjo did not speak in support of Tinubu. He supports Labour Party’s Peter Obi. But his deductions were the same with those of others who believe Buhari and his kitchen cabinet want an Atiku, thus PDP victory. According to Adebanjo: “They don’t want to leave office. I’m saying it openly here. It is not a joke that they want to scuttle the election. You must be prepared for post-election.
“Right now, they are planning to vote for Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, by jettisoning their candidate in the Labour Party. They want another northerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. How they want to do it, I don’t know, but we must all be prepared for war. Have it at the back of your mind that Obi must be declared president.”
The allegation is a weighty one capable of throwing Nigeria down the cliff. And, it is sticking on Buhari because he is yet to show the kind of commitment former President Olusegun Obasanjo did, when he was about to leave office and was campaigning for late Umaru Yar’Adua.