Buhari’s intention to seek second term
Political activities in this country in the run up to the 2019 elections engaged a higher gear on Monday last week when President Muhammadu Buhari announced his intention to contest for a second term in office. Even though some governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress [APC] had been clamouring since last year for Buhari to throw his hat into the ring, his announcement at a closeddoor meeting of APC’s National Executive Committee [NEC] took observers by surprise. This was not only because the NEC meeting was expected to be dominated by the issue of whether the party should hold congresses and convention to elect new leaders, but also because the president was billed to travel abroad that same day for official and private business.
Buhari said he was responding to the clamour by Nigerians for him to re-contest in 2019. He also said he wanted to accord APC’s NEC the honour of being the first to know that he will recontest. There are thousands of people in Nigeria who are aspiring to occupy various executive and legislative jobs in 2019, in addition to the thousands of incumbents who will be fighting to retain their jobs. While a few had been campaigning openly in the mainstream and social media, most had refrained from doing so, especially since the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] warned that it is not yet time for campaigns. The president’s declaration however opens the floodgate and all manner of candidates are expected to throw their hats into the ring.
Buhari is not new to election campaigns. He had contested presidential elections four times since 2003, three of them unsuccessfully. This is however the first time he is contesting as an incumbent, rather than as opposition leader. Rather than making lofty promises as he did in four previous polls, this time he must defend his record in office in the last three years. This will not be an easy task since Buhari and APC made very lofty promises in 2015, including the main one of changing Nigeria. Issues such as the president’s age, health status and his style of governance are also expected to feature prominently in the upcoming campaign.
Buhari’s declaration should not stop other aspirants, within APC and outside it, from throwing their own hats into the ring if they believe they have something to offer. APC must not repeat the mistake that PDP made in 2015 by printing only one nomination form and effectively shutting out all other aspirants apart from President Goodluck Jonathan. Anyone who believes that he has a good vision for national progress should also offer himself or herself to Nigerians so that we will have a credible choice. The opposition PDP has said governance will now take a back seat to campaigning. We hope not; our economy is so fragile that the next one year is still needed to firm it up, which is also an important campaign issue.
This is also President Buhari and APC’s final, decisive opportunity to prove that they are the agents of change by avoiding all the bad habits once associated with PDP such as candidate imposition, abuse of the public treasury, misuse of security agencies and manipulation of election officials. If any of that is noted in this election circle, then voters will not know the difference between the old order and the new one.
Buhari’s declaration should not stop other aspirants, within APC and outside it, from throwing their own hats into the ring if they believe they have something to offer