By Mike Ikenwa
Many are expecting the 2019 general election to be, if not for anything else, the most closely contested presidential election in the history of Nigeria, but no, this is beyond Atiku Abubakar, the former Nigerian vice president, and President Muhammadu Buhari, a former Nigerian military general who defeated former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 General Elections to emerge as Nigerian president.
Just like President Buhari Mr. Atiku has contested in three elections to become Nigeria president but failed, and this time, winning the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket to emerge as the 2019 presidential election candidate is what seems to be his final push to Aso Rock, while President Buhari is gunning for his second term.
So many things are going to decide the outcome of the presidential elections, and yes, who is behind who is going to play a big role.
Prior to the 2015 PDP primaries which saw Atiku emerge as the flag bearer, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has criticized Atiku, who was his vice as president, calling him a corrupt politician and a ‘thief’, but what has changed, why has he changed his mind to support Atiku? This is where the politics comes in, and it’s bigger than Atiku and Buhari, it’s the issue of who should be the boss of Nigerian politics.
On the side of the President Muhammadu Buhari is Former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, a key player in the 2015 politics that saw the dethroning of a seating President and emergence of President Buhari as Nigeria’s president. Many have given Tinubu credit for the emergence of Buhari as president, but that’s not enough for Tinubu, who from all indications was not very satisfied with how he was treated by the president after the elections. The re-election of President Buhari as president will not just seal Tinubu’s place as a key figure when it comes to Nigerian politics, but will further make him the man to decide who wins and who loses Nigeria’s elections.
Tinubu has been accused of dominating South West politics and ruling the region by proxy, as seen in emergence of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode as Lagos state governor and emergence of Babajide Sanwo-Olu as 2019 governorship candidate of the APC in the state.
By staying back to support President Muhammadu Buhari to continue for another four years after such poor performance and run of government widely accused of corruption, tribalism and so much clamp down and destruction of the country’s democracy, it’s obvious that Tinubu want to expand his coast to other parts of Nigeria to become a leading political figure who no politician gunning for national post will neglect.
On the other hand, Obasanjo has a lot to lose if he continues to support president Buhari. After the 2015 presidential elections, one would expect Obasanjo to take credit for his support to APC and Buhari after he went to the extent of destroying his PDP membership card publicly and declaring his resignation from the party, but no, who want to talk about that? Not while Tinubu, who didn’t just form the coalition that brought Buhari in, but also put resources and man power to ensure Buhari’s victory is still alive.
Obasanjo being a smart Politian knows very well that continue support for re-election of Buhari would see him walking in Tinubu’s shadows and would quicken his death as a key political figure in Nigeria, going further to make him lose his place as one of the men that decides the outcome of elections in Nigeria, hence he declared support for his former number two and someone that did everything possible to make sure he doesn’t go for second term.
Let’s look at it this way. If Buhari wins, it’s the end of Obasanjo’s reign, and it’d go to the length of losing his respect and fame in Nigerian politics. Like they say, politics is a game of number, and a game of who commands who and who has the most loyal followership and support. Buhari’s victory will destroy Obasanjo’s fame and popularity and would install Buhari’s man, Tinubu as the next big thing in Nigeria politics, the man who decides not just what happens in the West of the country, but as far as what goes in and out when it comes to the national politics and its key players.
What if Atiku wins, that’s the biggest play for Obasanjo, and the death of Tinubu’s dream of expanding his territory to the national level. Buhari’s failure to win the presidential elections will force Tinubu to remain as the king of the West who doesn’t have much to say when it comes to the national level, and would even go to the extent of shrinking his popularity in the west, most especially Lagos state where he seem to be the hand that enthrones and dethrones whoever he wants at any given time – the end of a big dream.
Mike Ikenwa is a Nigerian digital media strategist, writer, Digital publisher and currently the host of The stream on Bloomgist Podcast. He is a contributor to Chichi-Nwa Africa and a former contributor to Afrivibes.