After a tiring period of orchestrated silence, President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, said he would seek re-election in 2019, and immediately, his decision has begun to alter existing equation, writes Shola Oyeyipo
President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s political trajectory offers an interesting read anytime. His life, both public and private, is built around myth, the very reason the theory of his â€˜mysterious body languageâ€™ worked some magic at the very start of his administration in 2015 before it started to vanish and reach for anti-climax.
Although many reasons can account for this, one thing is certain: the talk about his integrity has since been muddled up in some of the high-wire intrigues, deliberate impunity, conspiracy of silence and of course, nepotism that have since typified his presidency.
Three times, Buhari had made attempts at the presidency and at those times, failed. In 2003, he ran against former President Olusegun Obasanjo and neither the courts nor the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could reconcile the vote difference. In 2007, it was against the late President Umar Musa Yarâ€™Adua and he alleged monumental fraud because he did not win. Again, in 2011, it was the turn of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who polled a comfortable win in spite of his supposed cult following.
For each of those times, he did not believe he lost. Indeed, he held the view that he was robbed of his victory and therefore, contested each of the results up to the Supreme Court. It was no wonder that in 2015, he expressed shock that Jonathan could give in easily, a reaction analysts are yet to fully comprehend. But before arriving at that juncture, he had said after the 2011 election that he gave up on Nigeria. Not only that, he wept.
Around the same period in 2011, he had said he only wanted to rule the country for just a term of four years because that was enough to set the country on the right path. But that dream packed up when Jonathan dusted him silly in 2011.
However, typical of politicians or people who desperately seek power, he forgot all those things he had said at the close of the 2011 elections, including his resolve not to seek re-election when the journey to 2015 began. His fancied integrity was not up for debate at the time and luckily, the government in power had literally lost it with the people. Thus, he saw an opportunity, which eventually yielded. He made it in 2015.
But soon after his government took off and his mystique had begun to vanish, he was quick to remind the people that at 73, there was a limit to what he could do. That is a no-brainer and of course, condonable. What it then meant was that he would quit in 2019 and leave the stage for much younger people, who not just have the physical strength to lead the nation but also the intellectual credentials to tame the challenges of the country in the 21st century.
On the contrary, Buhari still thinks he is in the best position to lead the country to the Eldorado. With an ill-health that is public knowledge, non-cohesive governance structure and gradually imploding party system, the tenor of the race as well as its permutations will begin to change.
Hitherto a reluctant candidate, the fact that he has openly declared his intention to seek re-election, albeit without regards to party politics, the battle within the opposition party will also gear up fast whilst the intra-All Progressives Congress (APC) intrigues will scale up significantly. And of course, the options before the public will be sufficient for an informed decision.
If there were plans to close the space and limit the options as it is typical of the political class every election year, this may not be so because the nation is already divided and heavily so along their perceptions as well as assessment of the current government, much as the people too have not forgotten so soon the sins of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 16 years it held sway.
However, the people have an ample opportunity to review their life under the PDP and what has become of it under the Buhari-led change regime in making their choice in 2019. That aside, the rivalry witnessed in the last three years on the social media amongst the supporters of the different political parties is now open for a conscious translation into reality as the nation counts down to 2019.
Without any scintilla of doubt, Buhari is already on his mark, determined to take his chances again in 2019, regardless of what the public opinion is. On the other hand, it is not certain yet, who will join him on the mark from any of the other parties. But at least, the race to 2019 is beginning to assume shape, thanks to the presidentâ€™s declaration of intention.