Buhari, Atiku: The is­sues for 2019 please

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - With Mon­ima Dam­inabo email: monidams@ya­hoo.co.uk 0805 9252424 (sms only)

To state that po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion in the coun­try has changed since the emer­gence of Al­haji Atiku Abubakar as the flag­bearer of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP), and the af­fir­ma­tion of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari equally for the sec­ond term as the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC), is to state the ob­vi­ous. What with the stream of con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages to both of them and their re­spec­tive par­ties, the flurry of po­lit­i­cal align­ments and re­align­ments by sundry el­e­ments with the aim of se­cur­ing them­selves com­fort zones where they hope to see the green light.

This is just as the rhetoric of mu­tual re­crim­i­na­tion has also not been in short sup­ply as each party tries to outdo the other in cast­ing as much as­per­sion as pos­si­ble, on the re­spec­tive for­tunes of the op­pos­ing camp. What is miss­ing so far is com­pa­ra­ble af­fir­ma­tion in con­crete terms of the likely di­rec­tion any of them - if elected will take the coun­try through, with re­spect to defin­ing a fu­ture for it. Many Nige­ri­ans would have wished that by now the po­lit­i­cal class - es­pe­cially those seek­ing pub­lic of­fice would have en­gaged the coun­try with at­ten­tion on their spe­cific ap­pre­ci­a­tion and op­tions for mov­ing the coun­try for­ward.

In all fair­ness how­ever, for the in­cum­bent Buhari, the way for­ward is not as much of a mys­tery as that of the chal­leng­ing Atiku and his team. Af­ter all much of what can be said of him is that he was the sec­ond in com­mand in the Oluse­gun Obasanjo ad­min­is­tra­tion; which re­mains a far cry from what he would do when for­mally and per­son­ally in charge. Buhari there­fore still earns the ti­tle of tried and tested, while Atiku is tech­ni­cally a yet to be dis­cov­ered tal­ent.

Yet the wide spread ac­knowl­edge­ment of Atiku’s nom­i­na­tion by the PDP is a fac­tor which the rul­ing party will ig­nore at its peril. Even hith­erto Buharists are on the band wagon of wel­com­ing Atiku. That is why the forth­com­ing 2019 in which both Buhari and Atiku shall be the lead­ing com­bat­ants in a field fea­tur­ing other pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates but with less stature, re­mains a dis­pen­sa­tion which Nige­ri­ans need to de­fine the pa­ram­e­ters and hold them ac­count­able for such.

Al­ready the test­ing ground for much of what the fu­ture holds for the coun­try with re­spect to what to ex­pect from who­ever emerges as leader in one ca­pac­ity or the other or the other, has been re­vealed by the con­duct of the var­i­ous pri­mary elec­tions in which the core in­ter­ests of Nige­ri­ans were largely side­lined. Hardly did any of the hun­dreds of can­di­dates emerge from pub­lic en­dorse­ment of his or her can­di­da­ture based on con­vinc­ing out­line of mis­sion in of­fice. It was ei­ther such was hand­picked by the pow­ers that be or, he or she was a ben­e­fi­ciary of ro­ta­tional pol­i­tics, whereby pri­mor­dial sen­ti­ments ruled the day. Lit­tle won­der that the pri­maries have been trailed by so much ac­ri­mony es­pe­cially in the APC where the mere nom­i­na­tion to an of­fice is seen largely as an au­to­matic as­cen­dancy into the po­si­tion.

For of­fices at state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment lev­els such are usu­ally the feed­ing grounds for lo­cal po­ten­tates where they of­ten dom­i­nate pro­ceed­ings. Hence change from out­side is of­ten re­sisted ex­cept it comes from the di­rect stake-hold­ers. But with re­spect to the crit­i­cal of­fice of the Pres­i­dent, ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that al­low­ing as­pi­rants to ac­cess it with­out any con­crete and ver­i­fi­able agenda has been the bane of the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment.

The fore­go­ing con­sid­er­a­tion is crit­i­cal for the rul­ing APC as its big­gest er­ror of judg­ment shall be to think that 2019 and beyond will be a roll-over of its per­for­mances for the pe­riod 2015 to date and into the next dis­pen­sa­tion - that is if it even wins power in the forth­com­ing polls. Hence to rest on its oars is to mis­read the po­lit­i­cal jig­saw even with the new look PDP which has dra­mat­i­cally not only rein­vented it­self but has also drained crit­i­cal mass from the APC with re­spect to the re­cent wave of de­fec­tions from APC to PDP. If noth­ing else, the verve with which the PDP rein­vented it­self is enough im­pe­tus for re-view­ing what­ever pa­ram­e­ters which the APC could have been us­ing to ap­praise its big­gest ri­val. Ris­ing from the brink of dis­in­te­gra­tion the PDP came out strong and pip­ing hot, lead­ing to its lat­est mas­ter act be­ing the con­duct of its pri­maries in a most com­mend­able man­ner.

In con­trast to the PDP the rul­ing APC of­fered to Nige­ri­ans a regime of prom­ises of promised changes, which are yet to man­i­fest to the level pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tion was raised. The con­se­quence was a mis­match be­tween what Nige­ri­ans gen­er­ally were promised and what the ad­min­is­tra­tion was hard put to de­liver. The ques­tion then is, did the APC prom­ise more than what it could de­liver? The an­swer lies in the af­fir­ma­tive since the prom­ises were le­git­i­mate but the op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment was com­pletely mis­un­der­stood by the APC.

In the same vein the PDP should not see it­self as the peo­ples’ dar­ling for now. Not a few Nige­ri­ans are still view­ing its re­forms as mere gim­micks aimed at catch­ing votes af­ter which it be­comes busi­ness as usual. Nige­ri­ans are ac­tu­ally ask­ing metaphor­i­cally if the leop­ard has changed its spots?

The sit­u­a­tion be­comes more in­ter­est­ing when it is con­sid­ered that the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two par­ties is not more than that be­tween twelve and a dozen. This is just as the dif­fer­ence be­tween Buhari and Atiku has en­joyed a wide swathe of opin­ions which but for their dif­fer­ent ca­reer an­tecedents co­a­lesce into a com­par­i­son be­tween sharp cor­ner and a sharp bend. This fore­go­ing re­al­ity de­fines what can pos­si­bly be ex­pected of an Atiku Pres­i­dency in spite of the din from wel­come mes­sages now trend­ing.

The way out for the coun­try is for the var­i­ous as­pi­rants to high of­fice of the Pres­i­dent at least to be in­duced to mar­shal out for Nige­ri­ans, where they hope to take the coun­try to. There should not be any cer­e­mony about such as is clear to all the coun­try is in the woods. And the time to hold them is now, be­fore the ac­tual cam­paign starts and they will cite the al­ibi of be­ing too busy to come to terms with the true wishes of the peo­ple.

The way out for the coun­try is for the var­i­ous as­pi­rants to high of­fice of the Pres­i­dent at least to be in­duced to mar­shal out for Nige­ri­ans, where they hope to take the coun­try to. There should not be any cer­e­mony about such as is clear to all the coun­try is in the woods.

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