Non-interference in national/states party crises and court processes are two known characteristics of President Muhammadu Buhari. In as much as the latter is a qualitative trait for a purposeful and just leadership, it is also a great recipe for flourishing of separation of powers and good governance. It is believed by many that PMB doesn’t get involved in managing party crisis due to his 2011 CPC experience and above all, he is not a skilled-mediator or crisis manager. It is an open secret that, whenever aggrieved party faithful seek his intervention in intra-party injustices, he declines to get involved but refers them to those same party officials that denied them fair play and political space.
However, the just concluded national convention of the All Progressives Congress, APC, (in real sense is Eagle Square appointments) came with a new twist, as the nation witnessed Buhari’s over the top interference on who got what in the party’s national executive to run the party affairs for the next four years. His maiden open intervention was seen during an “alleged coup” against the chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Committee of the party, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state, who was hoodwinked by majority of the APC governors. In that fiasco, after saving the caretaker chairman, Buhari went on to handpick the incumbent national party chairman, Sen. Adamu Abdullahi, truncating the ambition and dreams of other candidates to showcase their political and negotiation skills in the convention arena. It was reported by the media that instead of instilling internal democracy within the APC, the president went out of his way and presented a list of people to the party stakeholders as those he wanted to be adopted automatically for some strategic party positions without undergoing elections.
Unfortunately, only the chairman survived the axe of the APC governors, as they rejected all of the president’s choices except the chairman. Notable among those rejected was his preferred deputy national chairman (North) Faruk Adamu Aliyu, a man seen by many as an adopted political son and a longtime loyalist of the president. He has been with the president since his political debut two decades ago. His unapologetic rejection by the governors surprised many political observers, because in the past, the APC governors used to blackmailed the president and the party faithful that President Buhari is the only father figure in the party whose wishes are beyond alteration and criticism. Surprisingly, their action betrayed that long political rhetoric!
A sign of PMB’s retirement?
Despite the fact that the president has resisted numerous attempts to reveal his preferred successor, looking at the zoning arrangement of the party, there is no doubt that its presidential ticket is heading to the South. Now, it has become an unwritten law in the national political space to have the party chairman and presidential candidate from different regions. This is against the failed 2011 naive outing of Buhari’s CPC. However, a powerful indicator from the president’s body language is that Buhari is personally torn between repaying the undeniable support he enjoyed from the progressives of the South-west and caving in to the wishes of some powerful forces around him to let the ticket go to the South-south. As much as the confusion surrounding the APC camp on how to go about rewarding political loyalty, it is the same with the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which is in a quagmire for jettisoning the rotation arrangement.
Many southerners are of the view that, if they dare miss this chance, they’ll have to wait for another eight years before taking the shot again. And for the northerners, they want to retain the seat in order to compensate the lost tenure of late President Umar Musa Yar’adua and due to the fact that, they are the majority in Nigeria’s democracy project – democracy is a game of numbers, the majority have their way while the minority have their say.
Running mate confusion
Starting with the APC, its major dilemma is choosing a deputy or running mate. If a tired Muslim Bola Ahmed Tinubu clinches the party ticket, he will have to find an energetic and capable northern Christian as his running mate. In the North, politics always goes hand in hand with religion, thus, quite a number of northern Muslims will reject a Muslim southerner with a northern Christian as running mate, because many tend to see the southern Muslims as minorities in a majority Christian South. Anyway, here in the North, he will surely enjoy 90 percent of the votes of minority northern Christians. On the other hand, if Vice President Yemi Osinbajo emerges as the party’s presidential starboy, damning allegations against him by Prof. Farooq Kperogi on his religious bigotry and indifference towards Muslims’ sensitivities will surely hurt his chances in the eyes of many Muslims. Therefore, they must look for a trusted and experienced northern Muslim to pin the ticket in order to gain acceptability of northern Muslims. Based on experience in Nigeria’s politics, one can safely say that, in this scenario the choice of capable hand must come from the Progressive Governors Forum or religious circle. Now, to the former, this will only take us to either Governor Nasie El-Rufa’i of Kaduna state or Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state and in the religious circle to either Prof. Isa Pantami, minister of communication and digital economy, or Prof. Salisu Shehu, vice chancellor of Istiqama University, Sumaila for the APC to have a possible winning solution against those weighty allegations. And for the PDP, they are now in a dilemma of either being unfair for throwing away their zoning arrangement or pragmatically doing all they can to have an experienced and formidable candidate from the North, one who is financially and politically capable of unsettling the APC to win the presidency. In this case, any political blunder could cost them another eight years as opposition party.
PDP and consensus candidate
PDP is good in handling internal crises, but with bad history of imposition of candidates by its stakeholders against the wishes of the rank and file. Presently, a team of serving and past governors embarked on contacting major stakeholders in order to arrive at a consensus candidate for the 2023 elections. And by newspaper reports, it is possible that many aspirants may step aside to allow one person to stand as the party’s consensus candidate. This could be another tactics of handling internal crises.
So far, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, ex-Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governors Bala Muhammed of Bauchi state; Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state; and Nyesome Wike of Rivers state are the aspirants at the forefront working to have one among them as the consensus candidate of the party. In Nigeria’s democracy, consensus method of selecting candidate is accepted as a norm but easily abused by selfish party officials to destroy aspirations of party members not favoured in their political books. Additionally, it is a sort of dictatorship, because the candidate may not be the choice of the majority and is not made out of pure democratic process of internal elections. In this sense, consensus candidature is a bad recipe for a young democracy, primary election(s) is the best form to elect a candidate and give credibility to the party activities, sense of belonging to party faithful and the general public the best out of many or equals in the party.
Ibrahim, a graduate of economics, Bauchi State University Gadau writes via [email protected], 07019718681