Buhari Receiving Cheers from Supporters

In a pre-election year, the odds against President Muhammadu Buhari are mounting, writes Olawale Olaleye

For President Muhammadu Buhari, the much anticipated election of 2019 appears an anti-climax. For a man heralded into office with a lot of goodwill and staggering popularity at a most critical time, when all that was needed was a hands-on leader, what has characterised his government in the last three years is clearly a case for a political science class study – one that could throw up hypothetical options on how and why the president missed his way in his promise to deliver change as well as put to record, the inherent lessons of what might turn out his grand failure eventually.

Twenty-nineteen is not meant to show up insidiously. It had served a notice some three years ago, when the mandate of the current political office holders was handed out. Indeed, it has taken a deserving period to come around. Unfortunately, nothing so far has shown that the current actors are prepared for what is to come eventually, chief of whom: Buhari.

It was commonplace that the palpable incompetence of the Goodluck Jonathan administration had placed a huge responsibility on its successor – anybody at all. It didn’t actually have to be Buhari. This, of course, formed the basis for why the ‘Jonathan must go’ mantra was at the time a national anthem. But just like Jonathan, it has only taken Buhari three years or less to fritter away his goodwill, mystique and mysterious body language.

First, it was one of his biggest backers, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who in a letter with scathing truth, told Buhari what many shied away from saying. That Nigeria under him was on the precipice and that if it must be pulled back from the brink, Buhari would have to make a huge sacrifice, which is not seeking re-election. He advised Buhari to dismount from his high horse, see how he might have festered the crisis in the nation, albeit inadvertently and address it with such a huge sacrifice.

Not unexpectedly, Obasanjo’s ‘advice’ drew flaks from many of Buhari’s support quarters, but the message was not lost on an average observer of the polity. It was, perhaps, the reason another former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, added his voice too in a press statement that landed in controversy, because of an unapproved duplicate. Eventually, the truth was said of the two letters and it came out that Babangida too would love to see Buhari disembark from the 2019 flight and encourage a leadership with digital disposition.

Yet another missile from a former Army chief and Defence minister with name recognition, Lt-Col. Theophilus Danjuma, who penultimate Saturday encouraged self-defence in the face of the unceasing killings in different parts of the country. He accused the security agents of complicity in some of the killings and said the only way out was for people to defend themselves against their killers. After all, self-defence is constitutional, renowned lawyer, Itse Sagay, seconded.

This too attracted shocking reactions from government quarters, where a majority didn’t expect that a Danjuma would travel that route. But on a scale, his view appeared more popular with the majority and the fact that it came on a day the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) and 16 other northern groups came together to disapprove of the current crop of leaders from the north, Buhari inclusive, sent a very ominous signs of the ugly things to come.

Thus, when this is placed side-by-side with the lingering disagreement between the presidency and the National Assembly, particularly as it concerns the 2018 budget and the Electoral Act controversies, time is evidently ticking for the president.

Although efforts by the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership to intervene in some of the situations are ongoing, it may be unable to do much ultimately, because the situation has advanced critically.
Even more curious is that what appears like a political suicide was attempted last week by the president, when he objected to the proposed tenure extension of the current national and state leadership of the APC, citing constitutional breach in all the boxes of consideration.

Ironically, failing to see the political correctness in the proposal especially that it was one conceived to save his re-election since an elective convention at this time with the multi-dimensional crisis in the party could eternally undo the APC and impair his chances in 2019, quietly gave away Buhari and his poor reading of the entire equation.

Perhaps, like some have inferred, it could be a subliminal message from the president that given the mounting opposition, he might have begun to stand down on the 2019 project. After all, he has always been a reluctant candidate. This appears incontrovertible, because with the current state of things in the party and the country as a whole, the fall-out of any elective convention is certainly unmanageable and the president would have glibly played into the waiting hands of his traducers, who desperately desire to control the soul of the party.

As it is, the storm is gathering and those adept at the game of intricate politics are already calculating and evaluating the political capitals as well as making their ways in that direction. In all of these, however, one thing is crystal clear: the only opposition against the APC is the APC. If the party is unable to manage its internal contradictions, which seems late by the way, it might as well be laying its bed for unwanted visitors at the late hour. PDP with all its internal contradictions has a lot to take away from APC’s misfortune.

On the whole, whilst the equation is still fluid and yet to assume any particular shape or form, it remains an unfortunate political reading for a party that had it all going well for it at the start of this journey.