Thursday, 11 December 2014

2015: A Delicate Balancing Act.



2015: A Delicate Balancing Act.
By the time you are reading this article, the All Progressive Congress (APC) will have finished their presidential primary elections. There is no question that whoever emerges will slug it out with the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) President Goodluck Jonathan, with the entire arsenal available to the incumbent in an election as it were.
As it stands today, and if nothing changes, the 2015 elections fill many a Nigeria with a feeling of trepidation and foreboding due to the depths, as never before in recent times, of divisiveness across ethno-religious and regional lines, which have been further fuelled by the crises of insecurity in the northeast and the sheer rascality, opportunism and brinkmanship among politicians and their acolytes in the march to the elections. The piece today shall look at the five APC aspirants and what they can possibly bring to the table in the contest against a determined PDP, probably about to face the stiffest contest to the office of president since 1999.
Gen Muhammadu Buhari brings with him a cult followership amongst the common people, especially in the north, as none other. But beyond that is the fact that his credential of personal integrity and discipline is unimpeachable. He is a person that, as president, should be able to inspire some level of fiscal responsibility and discipline especially within the civil service, which is the engine room of development in any state. Under him, many believe, corruption will shirk by itself and begin to give this country some breathing space. Internationally, many presume him to be able to attract the kind of respect that this nation deserves as he will not go cap in hand looking for validation from some other nation or leader. He should also be able to look in the eyes of these big countries and make only decisions that are in the best interest of Nigeria.
The problem with Buhari, however, is that his political aspirations evoke very strong and polar emotions for various reasons he himself may have nothing to do with. He can actually beat the PDP and they are wary of that possibility and so they are ready to throw everything into the contest. Therefore, if he wins the APC primaries, we have to brace ourselves up for turbulent and acrimonious elections.
There is no single aspirant right now, both in the APC and PDP, with the kind of political structures and bridges across the length and breadth of this country as Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He is the most experienced of all in politics and he has got some very deep pockets, a major factor in the political works of this nation. But apart from all that, he is able to attract the best minds from every corner of this nation to come and contribute in government if elected: he is credited as having brought some of the best hands that worked under Obasanjo. Like Buhari, he has demonstrated immense belief in our judiciary by putting it to task in the past, which is a good sign.
The major challenge with him is that some Nigerians do not trust him as a man of character because of his endless defection from one party to another. Also, corruption allegation is another issue: there are still unanswered questions about the Haliburton scandal. However, apart from Buhari, if there is any other candidate capable of dislodging the PDP now, it’s Atiku. Apart from the reasons above, he against a Jonathan portends a far less combustible contest.
If there is an aspirant that basking in the blaze of glory for his very visible achievement in office as a political Chief-Executive, it is Rabiu Kwankwaso. He has transformed Kano State in ways never before since Audu Bako in the sixties; and within just four years. He embodies the Obama yes-we-can slogan. But Nigerian politics is more than just that. Parties have yet to be known to take a candidate on “the shoulders” into victory where such a person does not have own structures across the country. Kwankwaso does not appear to have it. In fact is it is candidates that carry the parties on their shoulder.
Sam Nda-Isaiah is a newspaper proprietor who built his enterprise to an enviable height. He is also an incisive and progressive commentator on national issues. What he is capable of bringing to the table is an option for all who are tired of politicians that we have seen so far: he is a new-breed. But there again is the problem. He is yet to cultivate his political field; except of course if he’s got some grounded patrons. But with the cry for the presidency to come to the north, a northern Christian, like Nda-Isaiah, can provide the needed modicum of appeal across board to douse the sectarian flames.
As for Rochas Okorocha, inspite of his achievements as governor of Imo State, his philanthropy and inroads across the length and breadth of the country, the time simply does not appear right for him. Even if APC fields him as a better accepted candidate, from the south, to the north than Jonathan, he is unlikely to beat PDP.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Dec. 11, 2014; p5.

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