Buhari’s in­ten­tion to seek sec­ond term

Sunday Trust - - PAGE 3 COMMENT -

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

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