By Abimbola Ojenike
“APC cannot go through this decision-making process and remain the same. Whatever hue its decision takes, it would be tricky. The realignment and dissociation that will follow would emasculate the APC. However, if APC makes the call earlier, it might have the fortuitous hope of rebuilding before the election.”
If there was ever any suspense about who would emerge as the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the anxiety would appear to have been doused now. The pointers are rife that APC’s protracted primary election process might turn out the one and the same General Muhammadu Buhari, going at least by the throng of APC strongmen who almost literally held the banners for him at his recent declaration.
Buhari is not a first-time contender for the presidency. He has been trounced repeatedly in consecutive election but this might be the first time the Nigerian electorates would weigh the Buhari-option seriously. It was first speculated that he would not contest again and that he might support his putative protégé, Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House of Representatives. With the turn of events, it does not appear the APC is still fascinated by the idea of finding an incredibly fresh, charismatic, visionary and competent candidate who would be a real alternative to the PDP candidate. APC knows that it would take the clout of a man like Buhari to get a fair probability of success at the poll in the north west and north east regardless of what Nigerians might consider as his drawbacks.
The race is still open but closed. Except other contenders for the ticket are on a flight of their imagination, they should know where they stand by now. For instance, APC has tacitly told Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar that he is a man on his own frolic. Atiku, old or “new Atiku” as he likes to be seen now, is an awful drain on APC’s political currency. Millions of PDP minions, if they know what the choice of Atiku means, would take to the streets in a pre-emptive victory celebration if APC chooses him. Where would Atiku’s vote come from? The way he carries on does not seem to show that he sees his ambition through the public lens. This bloated sense of political worth is common here. Every politician is man of the people in his own reckoning even if they pelt him with stones everywhere he goes. If it were not so, an Atiku Abubakar should have known that Presidency is not in his star in the nearest future of Nigeria.
If Atiku loses the bid for the APC ticket, will he change sides again? Although Atiku is not known to have abiding political loyalty, he has lost so much of the incentive for hopping from one party to another with the vagaries of the weather. He is stranded with the APC till another election, even if only as a passive member.
APC’s toughest challenge is perhaps how to reconcile the interest of Rabiu Kwankwaso, the incumbent Governor of Kano State who is one of the ardent contenders for the APC ticket. He is jostling for the ticket knowing that this might be his closest to attaining the topmost rung in his political career. Measured in terms of achievement as Governor, he would probably not be a bad face for the APC but he is not comparable to Buhari in political influence in the north. It will be a hard job for the APC. What will APC offer Kwankwaso as trade-off for shelving his ambition? Could this be an assurance that Buhari will do one term and pave the way for the Kwankwaso presidency? If Buhari wins the next election and defies the sit-tight bug by doing just one term, his natural successor, if the administration delivers democratic goods might be his deputy; not Kwankwaso. Such an assurance, if given, cannot even survive the intrigues of power. It is either that zoning would not favour him anymore, there are stronger contenders or the incumbency does not think the cap fits him. So, how will Kwankwaso advance his political career beyond 2015 if he concedes the Presidential ticket to Buhari?
APC cannot go through this decision-making process and remain the same. Whatever hue its decision takes, it would be tricky. The realignment and dissociation that will follow would emasculate the APC. However, if APC makes the call earlier, it might have the fortuitous hope of rebuilding before the election.
Again, the Buhari choice would not be readily endearing to a vast majority of young Nigerians and non-Muslims especially outside the north but he might be able to warm himself into more hearts over a considerable run of time. Buhari’s virtue of integrity, an endangered value in the tribe of Nigerian politicians, could be a great selling point in addition to the competency profile of his Vice-President. In any event, the consideration of leadership competence would not put Buhari on a more unfavourable spot than the incumbent President Jonathan who was bequeathed the PDP ticket on a platter. It seems that once again, politicians have presented Nigerians with an Hobson’s choice- a decision between a further four-year extension of the current state of affairs of Nigeria and whatever it means to a great many Nigerians on one hand; and on the other hand, a gamble with a new leadership under a man who is mostly touted for basic honesty than other essential leadership abilities required to lift Nigeria from the ruins.
Abimbola Ojenike is a prolific writer and a regular contributor in newspapers and in other local and international magazines. He writes exclusively for BREAKING TIMES every week in the column, Game of Thrones. He can be followed on Twitter at @beambini.
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