The term blunder has been prominently described as “a gross mistake made, especially through carelessness, confusion or without guidance.”
Long before the 24-hour news cycle came along, kings, presidents, and emperors committed all sorts of blunders which they later regretted.
One of recent history major missteps and biggest political blunders was the one committed by William Seward, a former New York governor who was the Republican Party’s frontrunner for the nomination leading up to the 1860 presidential election.
So confident was Seward in his selection, that for several months prior to the party’s 1860 convention, he travelled abroad, making stops throughout Europe and Asia. While in Beirut, he even purchased a few Arabian horses.
After returning to America, Seward found that a lawyer from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln had slipped in and gained the party’s support. Seward’s ill-timed trip was the main reason he lost.
And most recently, British Prime Minister Theresa May lost her gamble and working majority at Westminster after calling a snap election that delivered a hung Parliament.
Her decision to go to the polls three years early was tagged one of the biggest missteps in recent political history, with May’s critics accusing her of putting partisan political greed ahead of the good of the country.
In Nigeria, a couple of months away to the next round of fresh elections, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari appears set to commit another ridiculous political blunder.
Apparently confident in his legendary popularity with the northern masses, Buhari, just like America’s Seaward, does not appear to realise nor ready to admit that he is being led far away from the massive goodwill he enjoyed some three years ago.
By appearing not to notice the marked difference in pattern, circumstances, forces and events that shaped the 2015 election and those that would most certainly determine the outcome of the 2019 exercise, Buhari is likely to carry the unnecessary baggage accrued to some northern governors with him to the ring.
Kaduna State which gave Buhari and the APC about 1.5 million votes in 2019 is today fast slipping out of the control of the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai and the broken party hierarchy.
At stake here is not only the continued suppression and oppression of critical political players in the state through manipulating what remains of the state’s party leadership, it is also about the implications of another four years under an El-Rufai government or even APC generally.
Understanding these implications by Buhari requires understanding how the once loved APC reached this stage in Kaduna. El-Rufai came with the promise of security, ending poverty, protecting the vulnerable, and improving the economy. But the gap between El-Rufai’s rhetoric and reality keeps growing wider throughout the first three years of his first term, which may as well be his last with the concomitant likelihood of dragging the president down with him.
As the policies adopted in governing the state by El-Rufai most often contradict the APC and Buhari’s ideals, the trend also indicates that it has led to further deterioration of his electoral value as a consequence.
El-Rufai’s last three years have witnessed a drastic erosion of Kaduna State institutions – traditional, religious, and socio-political dynamics have been scandalised by his form of governance which stresses the absence of internal democracy in the APC, absence of real representative government, broadening legislation that undermines rule of law, and increasing influence of sycophants.
Everywhere in the state, concerns are mounting about the restriction of freedom of association, press, and expression, the use of state power with impunity as depicted in the mass sack of workers and bastardisation of the revered traditional institution.
The confinement of the ruling elite to a narrow circle of friends and relatives is another clear sign of the administration’s bad governance, that is damaging El-Rufai’s politics itself and the state’s future stability which could reflect negatively on Buhari in 2019.
This insular approach has already deepened the fragility of the APC in Kaduna with the probable consequence of raising the electoral stakes several notches beyond the reach of El-Rufai and Buhari next year.
Buhari must therefore wake up to the reality that unless he forgets El-Rufai’s deceptive antics and move personally to mend the broken fences with critical political players who wield considerable influence on the public, he risks losing the massive support he got in the state.
Buhari must dig in hard by moving fast to clip El-Rufai’s wings in order to pacify the mounting anger among the citizens particularly the aggrieved workers, the clerics and ulama, traditional rulers and elders of the state.
By way of suggestion, he can as well assign the responsibility of reaching out to the classes of aggrieved persons to a responsible Kaduna opinion leader who is genuinely respected across board.
Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, Abuja