It’s election season in Nigeria once again and the political landscape is heating up as expected. Already, we have witnessed defections, disqualifications as well as inter and intraparty squabbles among political heavyweights. Unarguably, the most notable of these occurrences has been the truncated re-election bid of Lagos State’s incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. No thanks to the political machinery that deemed him unworthy of a second shot at the helm affairs in Nigeria’s most valuable State.
What started as a speculation and mere rumour turned out to be a reality. A controversial press conference, a primary that came to be after incessant postponements and Ambode’s fate was sealed.
He will not be the first citizen of Lagos come May 2019.
While many believe Ambode’s many sins eventually caught up with him—and they range from a deliberate attempt to obliterate his predecessor, Fashola’s legacy to the harsh treatment of civil servants to making himself unavailable to party members to evicting a man of God from the church, and pitching tent with the clearly incompetent Visionscape while PSP operators were rendered jobless. Others are of the opinion that he has been unfairly treated by the powers that be.
Nevertheless, the Lagos example appears to be a pointer to all the twist, turns and shenanigans we are still to witness in the build-up to the 2019 general elections. As political parties conclude their primaries and the main contenders emerge, the calculations and permutations that have already ensued are testaments to how important the next couple of months are to the average Nigerian.
As the days go by, the pretenders are being separated from the contenders. Some former candidates who had earlier been touted as successors to Buhari have already fallen by the wayside. A typical example would be Senate president, Bukola Saraki whose ambition had even received confirmation through the prophecy of a known clergy.
It’s also significant to note that the emergence of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the PDP has laid the marker for what promises to be an epic contest for the highest position in the land. At the risk of underestimating the many other political parties vying for the presidency, the general consensus seems to be that the actual contest is between the two biggest politicals parties–the ruling All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party.
In some quarters, Atiku represents hope —the political veteran and businessman who possesses just the right amount of clout and acumen to turn things around. However, to many others, he is the poster boy for the kind of Nigeria that led the nation into the quagmire it has battled for so long. He is perceived as an epitome of corruption who will only cause more damage to Nigeria’s already battered reputation. In any case, it’s only the beginning of the fierce battle to occupy Aso Rock come 2019.
What’s interesting to note is that the younger generation who have clamoured for a change in the demographics of political office holders seem to have all but given up on the idea of a young president. A cursory browse through social media reveals the almost non-existent belief that a third force, (majorly led by much younger presidential aspirants) can cause an upset at the polls next year.
Statements like “Let’s face it, Buhari and Atiku are the only real contenders we have, those younger guys are just pretenders” aren’t common. We count them out on the basis of experience, clout and lack of political structure. It is ironic that young Nigerians who rant daily on Twitter and Facebook about how the country has been sold to the old folks who have nothing to offer are already throwing their hands up in defeat because two septuagenarians in are in the race for president.
It makes one wonder if the youths think they will be handed an elective post on a platter or the electioneering process is some kind of rendezvous. The notion that power will automatically swing towards the experienced is a fallacy. Before the 2015 elections, it was almost ludicrous to imagine that an incumbent could be defeated at the polls, but it happened right before our eyes! Even if the present crop of young political leaders do not eventually win the 2019 race, they can make a statement if an unprecedented number of people cast their vote for them. A defeatist attitude when the main campaigns haven’t even kicked off shows that the vast majority only pay lip service to the “old folks must go” rhetoric, but that’s a topic for another day.
Aside from the usual strategy and politicking that accompanies every electioneering, the 2019 presidential elections are certain to witness plenty of mudslingings. So, folks, I suggest you order enough popcorn to last the next few months as theatrical events continue to unfold.
It promises to be a roller coaster.
Guest Blogger, Dike Obi is the CEO of Financial Control & Risk Management Services Ltd. A Finance/IT Business Analyst and Training Consultant, Dike is an ardent observer and commentator on political and economic matters. He is also a preacher of the gospel. He writes from Lagos.