Fellow Nigerians, tomorrow is Christmas day and, it is only in order that, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. This year has gone rather fast. I’m not sure if we all fulfilled our dreams but we must still thank God for His kind mercies for answering some of our prayers and more importantly for sparing our lives. Nothing is greater than life. And this is why we celebrate the death of every year and cuddle the emerging year with excitement and expectations. In about one week from now, we would have reached the end of another year and we all begin to dream big dreams again and make new year promises and resolutions which we keep for a few weeks or months if we have some discipline. Life is a rat race and we keep living on in hope and prayer. This is the case of our great country Nigeria.
Nigeria is a very great country indeed. We are well-endowed and originally positioned by God to be the greatest black nation on earth. By our sheer population, it should be obvious even to the less discerning how we were configured by God to lead the black race. But something has obviously gone wrong with us, especially, in the area of leadership. We’ve tried all sorts, from military regimes to civilian governments and even an admixture of both under President Babangida and, to a lesser extent, the Interim National Government (ING) under Chief Ernest Shonekan, but nothing seemed to have worked in our favour. We’ve continued to wobble and fumble as we search for direction, any direction, to no avail. Our leaders are the world’s greatest seat-warmers. They waste all the time on frivolities and white elephant projects, engaging mainly in fights of fury signifying nothing and extreme flights of fancy. In this Yuletide season, budgets come, budgets go, the economy is static and the country remains stagnant.
Whenever and wherever two or more Nigerians are gathered, the topic of discussion often revolves around our political debacle. We all profess to know the problems and solutions but none of us has been able to concretise our theoretical postulations. For me, we have very good Nigerian leaders from all parts of Nigeria, within Nigeria and beyond our shores. Trouble is, we never allow them to thrive. Democracy is not always as simple as it appears. Being a game of numbers, it means anyone can win an election no matter how hopelessly unserious and helplessly useless some of us consider the person. Recent events have clearly demonstrated the new wave of total madness in the world, the collapse of reason and rationality. Elections have become a reality TV game show. We are being shown that, even in the most civilised countries, the vast majority of the populace are less informed. They only care about issues that selfishly concern them and not necessarily those that concern the good of the country. Everything points in the direction of a suicidal attitude on the part of electorates globally who don’t seem to care if their decision leads to complete retrogression and possibly even annihilation.
My prediction is that Nigeria is not going to witness any substantial change in the near future. The politicians would continue to dictate the tune and pace notwithstanding the common man’s efforts to reverse this trend. Democracy is a very expensive business and the rich would also therefore continue to influence the politicians. The generality of the people will continue to exert precious little influence even though they have the most powerful tool for real change in their hands or, more appropriately, thumb!
By the second quarter of next year, the Buhari government would have completed two out of its four-year term. By the start of the third year, politicking would have started full-blown and in earnest. In fact, it has already commenced, albeit surreptitiously. By next year, all the pretentious hanky-panky would have disappeared and the genie would have escaped from its magic lamp. I wish to submit some of my predictions ahead of that time.
In 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari would have shown his intentions somehow, whether to run or not to run. There would be nowhere to hide if he wishes to make any appreciable impact. There are already speculations that he may not want to seek a second term. That is a fallacy being spread by those trying to be clever by half. I believe the aim is to lull other would be contenders into a false sense of security.
I predict with the greatest sense of responsibility that barring any major development, especially age and health reasons, President Buhari will contest the next Presidential election. Power is too sweet to be abandoned voluntarily, particularly by those in the corridors of power who have the most to gain or lose depending on how the President decides to swing. Accordingly, you can be certain that they will goad President Buhari on and tell him how Nigeria will come unstuck and expire if he does not run again. By the early part of the fourth year of this tenure, the Presidency would start yarning Nigerians a very predictable tale; that Buhari has spent his first term clearing the mess he inherited from President Goodluck Jonathan and he needs a second term to actually do the job of getting Nigeria on its feet again. That is a super alibi waiting to be unleashed to assuage the feelings of the masses for the lack of progress in the avowed developmental change we all clamoured for. And it would be a valid one. What I’m not sure of, is if Nigerians would fall for such a slant on the perceived failings of Government.
Buhari would definitely wish to rely on his anti-corruption credentials if he runs again. He would expect Nigerians to support him all the way in the war against demonic looters. But let me warn and admonish that Buhari would need much more than this to win the next election. He should borrow examples from around the world. Before travelling far, he should remember the demolition of Dr Kayode Fayemi by the less educated and supposedly uncouth Peter Fayose in Ekiti State. Hunger speaks no Queen’s English. Hunger rumbles and roars like a lion. A hungry people are an angry horde of people. As Fayose crudely put it, ignore “stomach infrastructure” at your peril. The wind of change sweeping away leaders all over the world today is as a result of acute frustration. People are protesting against the establishment, whether justifiably or not. That was the reason Nigerians voted against President Jonathan last year. Unfortunately, that hunger has not abated despite our promises to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians.
If the Nigerian economy continues to nosedive along this present freefall path, Buhari is likely to face stiff opposition from within his own political party and from outside. My take is that APC would implode like it happened to PDP because of its marriage of incompatibles. There are already too many disgruntled factions and it is only a matter of time before they break away and move on elsewhere. Buhari will continue to hold sway in APC and his challengers would have to find somewhere else to try their luck. Buhari would try to unleash terror on such recalcitrant fellows and whip them back into line. Any potential challenger should be forewarned; he or she should be ready for war as Buhari would not take lightly to any act of rebellion or undue rascality. The only way Buhari can maintain control would be to apply force against his opponents. And there is no shortage of acolytes willing to encourage and assist the President in wielding the big stick!
Next, I predict the emergence of a third force. Two things are likely to happen. APC elements would combine with PDP factions and form a new party. I doubt if the PDP can survive its current tribulations. Its brand has become too weakened and may ultimately cave in, if care is not taken. It seems to me that with two factions at loggerhead and at each other’s throats it is only a matter of time before the main protagonists rip out the very jugular of the Party. If it exists beyond 2019, PDP would have become a mere apparition like other opposition Parties before it – AD, ACN and the like. There are already underground moves to seek a sympathetic undertaker and a few are hovering in the wings.
I have said it before and many dismissed me as talking humbug but the reality is beginning to dawn on many, that I may be speaking sense after all. Strange as it may seem after what has gone before, the number one contender against President Buhari is the immediate past President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, mark my word. The theory of those pressurising Jonathan to run is that he has shown himself to be a true democrat in his past conduct. They believe he has what it takes to perform better next time because he has learnt some big and useful lessons. They think no other candidate from the PDP camp is as ready as Jonathan. They have therefore tried to shore up his international standing by providing international platforms for him to articulate his resume. Jonathan himself has now come out to disclose that he is under intense pressure to contest again in 2019. If and when this happens, it would be a battle of familiar foes. It would also be fought along ethnic and religious lines as before. Jonathan is expected to tap into his old political, business and spiritual alliances and expect to triumph. Anyway, who knows? Anything can happen in politics. I will never write off anyone again. I’ve since discovered that there are not enough good people to stand up against abnormal candidates. For as long as this is a game of numbers, it could be anybody’s game.
The other major challenger is a member of the ruling APC party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He is an old veteran who has never hidden his intention to be the President of Nigeria after serving under President Olusegun Obasanjo as Vice President. He has worked tirelessly to achieve his dream and has crisscrossed a few political parties in the process. No one is sure as of now about how he hopes to navigate the murky and filthy waters of the Nigerian political ocean again. If he contests within his own party, he would have to beat an incumbent President for the ticket. That is a tall order. And although I have predicted that President Buhari will carry the day, against any opponent in his Party, his anti-corruption stance may well be his albatross particularly when one considers the cash and carry style of politicking presently holding sway in the country. If Atiku therefore wants to saunter over to PDP yet again, he would have to wrestle for the ticket with Jonathan as he did in what seems ages ago. If he hopes and works for the emergence of a third Party, there may be other strong contenders challenging him even in that Party.
In APC, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is seen as a potential crown prince if Buhari decides not to run. He has become a major player since the emergence of Buhari. He is intelligent, politically savvy and young enough. More importantly he controls a sizable following of youths on social media. Our youths may well determine the course of the next election so this is a handy demographic group to control. What is however not certain is, if the traditional politicians would hand over the party machinery to him…